Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Four Population Trends

In the January/February 2010 issue of Foreign Affairs, author Jack Goldstone in his article "The New Population Bomb: The Four Megatrends That Will Change the World" outlines four important demographic trends to watch:

  1. The relative demographic weight of the world's developed countries will drop by nearly 25 percent, shifting economic power to the developing nations.

  2. The developed countries labor forces will substantially age and decline, constraining economic growth in the developed world and raising the demand for immigrant workers.

  3. Most of the world's expected population growth will increasingly be concentrated in today's poorest, youngest, and most heavily Muslim countries, which will have a dangerous lack of quality education, capital, and employment opportunities.

  4. For the first time in history, most of the world's population will become urbanized, with the largest urban centers being in the world's poorest countries, where policing, sanitation, and health care are often scarce.

Goldstone has an interesting idea - reverse immigration. If older residents of developed countries took their retirements along the southern coast of the Mediterranean or in Latin America or Africa, it would greatly reduce the strain on their home countries' public entitlement systems. The developing countries involved, meanwhile, would benefit because caring for the elderly and providing retirement and leisure services is highly labor intensive.

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