So, with all that as prelude, you won't be surprised that I was very pleased by a blog post suggesting that political demography is coming of age. The report was inspired by sessions at this year's International Studies Association, which opened up a new section on political demography just a few short years ago.
“Political demography is a discipline whose time has come,” said Rob Odell of the National Intelligence Council at a gathering of demographers and researchers in New Orleans. “You can sense this inherent dissatisfaction” with a lot of analytical and predictive tools in international relations, he said, and “political demography provides policymakers a way to think about long-term trends.”
The Arab Spring, with its images of youthful mass protest, has helped popularize demographic terms, like “youth bulge.” And in Europe and East Asia, fears over aging – its effects on welfare, labor force, even military power – are routinely addressed by senior policymakers, said George Mason University’s Jack A. Goldstone. “Why? Because they’re concerned about demographic decline.”
Besides the fundamental rights-based argument for gender equality, political demography also illuminates a colder calculus. “We can say, ‘look at how impossible it is to get to a modern nation state without doing these things for women,’” said Wilson Center Global Fellow Richard Cincotta, referring to things like access to education, health care, and agency for women. “Political demography screams these things.”There are very few courses on political demography in universities, so it is not a field that has a lot of visibility yet. The insights from demography are just too important to ignore, however, and so we have to keep working on increasing awareness among policy-makers, in particular. Indeed, that is the exact point of the paper that Greg and I will be presenting in Charleston.