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.

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Monday, April 2, 2018

The Predictive Power of Political Demography

Thanks to Duane Miller for the link to a very good post from Richard Cincotta titled "8 Rules of Political Demography That Help Forecast Tomorrow's World." If you've read the book that Debbie Fugate and I edited on "The Youth Bulge," you'll know that Cincotta is author of one of the chapters in that volume. And, despite the fact that the "8 Rules..." article was published several months ago, its insights are timely.
Political demography, the study of population age structures and their relationships to political trends and events, has helped some analysts predict geopolitical changes in a world that, from time to time, appears utterly chaotic.
Much of my recent work has focused on democratic transitions and age structure – that is, what the median age of a country can tell us about its propensity to become a “liberal democracy” or remain either undemocratic (without free, fair, and politically meaningful elections) or illiberal (short on civil liberties and rule of law). There is, in fact, a strong correlation in recent history between increasing median age and increasing liberal democracy, and vice versa (the younger a population is, the less likely it is to be a liberal democracy). These and other age-structural relationships have become so evident over the past three decades of research, that political demographers can now identify “rules” that link demographic characteristics to expected political outcomes.
Why do political demography’s rules work as well as they do? Because age structural maturity both affects and reflects multiple aspects of society and state capacity. After all, the past century’s dramatic age-structural changes, where the world experienced tremendous growth in population followed by steep declines in fertility rates in many countries, are the result of many changes, including higher educational attainment (particularly women’s education), gains in wealth, advances in sanitation and health care, and access to modern contraception. 
There really isn't space in this blog post to enumerate Cincotta's 8 rules, but I strongly encourage you to go over his list while, at the same time, paying attention to this graphic:

I also encourage you to visit the website that Richard Cincotta has created on political demography--there are a lot of valuable resources there.

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