This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Demographic Vulnerability--Looking Forward

Yesterday I looked back at the countries of the Middle East to show that the most rapidly growing countries 25 years ago are, with few exceptions, the ones in which we today see the greatest level of violence and instability. That prompted Steve Kent at the Population Institute in Washington, DC to point me to an excellent report that they have just published on "Demographic Vulnerability: Where Population Growth Poses the Greatest Challenges." You can see the top 20 in the map below and the details for each country are provided in the report, which also has a lot of other good discussion and analysis. Indeed, I will say that I did not see a single thing with which to disagree. As the press release for the report indicates:

Robert Walker, president of the Population Institute and the principal author of the report, noted that, “Some of the countries profiled in this report—such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen—are ‘headline’ countries commonly recognized as ‘fragile’ states, though demographic pressures are seldom acknowledged. Others—such as Niger, Malawi, and Mozambique—don’t get much press coverage, but the challenges they face are no less daunting.”
World population is projected to increase from 7.3 billion today to 9.6 billion or more by 2050. Virtually all that growth will be in the developing world, and much of that increase will occur in countries struggling to alleviate hunger and severe poverty. Many countries with rapidly growing populations are threatened by water scarcity or deforestation; others are struggling with conflict or political instability. While progress is not precluded, population growth in these countries is a challenge multiplier.

I too have tried repeatedly to remind us all that the "population problem" is not "solved" just because rates of population growth are low in the richest countries. Population growth in these other countries is a storm headed our way, and we need to act now to help them and ourselves create a better future, not a worse one.

1 comment:

  1. Just got back from a trip to Brasil. Very interesting. They can support themselves with food. But 85% of their population is living in cities. It's a problematic trend worldwide.

    YES - the problem is ... what are we going to do with the extra 2.3 billion people who are born over the next 35-40 years. It appears that no-one has a plan to handle this situation, least of all the governments where these people will be born. The situation is extraordinary. If someone had told me - when I was a young college student - that the world would become retroactive in its planning for the future ... I would never have believed them.

    Can the West really sit back and imagine that we are insulated from these population trends this Century? I believe that we have discussed this before. The answer is NO.

    Pete, Redondo Beach, California

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