Welcome to politicaldemography.org
This website is dedicated to political demography, and to The Age-structural Theory of State Behavior (download article here). Read "The 8 Rules" (view). Follow on Twitter at @rpCincotta or visit the New Security Beat.
This year, 2018, marks the 60th anniversary of a landmark publication by a pair of academic social scientists who first recognized the close relationship between population age structure (the distribution of a country’s population, by age) and development. In Population Growth and Development in Low Income Countries (Princeton U. Press, 1958), demographer Ansley Coale (1917-2002) and economist Edgar M. Hoover (1907-1992) theorized that eventual declines in fertility would transform developing-country age structures. Coale and Hoover demonstrated that these newly transformed age structures would exhibit larger shares of citizens in the working ages, and smaller shares of dependent children and seniors. This transition, they argued, would someday help lift countries with youthful populations in Asia, Latin America, and Africa out of the low-income bracket. [read more … ]
UN figures indicate that Bangladesh, a state once identified with natural catastrophes and rock-concert relief, is on the cusp of its demographic window (reflected in its age structure, shown in Figure 1, below)—a period of favorable age structures that researchers associate with an increased pace of development and a more stable political future. Bangladesh is already a solid member of the World Bank’s lower middle-income class. According to a set of statistical models that we have developed, by 2030 Bangladesh appears to have an even chance of reaching the Bank’s upper middle-income class (roughly US$4,000 to $12,000 per capita annually). For a country that Henry Kissinger famously dubbed “a basket case” at independence in 1971, that prospect is impressive.
This remarkable turnaround is not a big surprise to international health specialists. In 1975, the government in Dhaka began collaborating with the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR/B) to initiate a program of community-based contraceptive distribution in Matlab subdistrict, a long-term health and demographic surveillance site.
Click here to read the rest of … “Bangladesh & Pakistan: Demographic Twins Grow Apart” on the New Security Beat, or download the .pdf here.
Since the seminal research of Herbert Möller in the late 1960s and Jack Goldstone in the early 1990s, numerous political researchers have called attention to the tendency of countries with youthful populations—often called a “youth bulge”—to be more vulnerable to civil conflict than nearby states with a more mature population. Then a 2016 article upset political demography’s apple cart. When investigating countries with at least three consecutive years without an intra-state conflict, Omar Yair and Dan Miodownik found a fundamental difference between ethnic and non-ethnic warfare. The risk of a non-ethnic conflict was, indeed, higher under youth-bulge conditions. However, they found that youth bulges (measured at the country level, rather than at the ethnic level) were unrelated to the risk of an onset of an ethnic conflict.
La Différence Vit?
In research for a soon-to-be-published article, I set out to investigate a bit beyond Yair and Miodownik’s conclusions, asking two new questions:
- Do the differences that Yair and Miodownik observed extend to countries with a history of recent of conflict?
- How do these effects play out over the course of the age-structural transition—as populations age, shifting from a youthful population with a low median age, to a more mature population with a high median age?
Fig. 1. The patterns of 5-year risk of (a.) revolutionary conflict and (b.) separatist conflict over the length of the age-structural transition. While the three types of conflict-history cases of revolutionary conflict (absent, intermittent, persistent) all respond to aging, the same classes of separatist conflict appear much less less responsive.
Conflict history classes: Absent: without conflict during the prior four years; Intermittent: 1 or 2 years of conflict during the prior 4 years; Persistent: 3 or 4 conflict years during the prior 4 years.
Tracking Forecasts and Their Outcomes. It’s one thing to make timed forecasts (difficult), it’s another to track them (boring), note the successes and failures (a bit more interesting), and modify the theory to learn from the outcomes (painful). The theory behind these forecasts are summed up in the New Security Beat essay, “The 8 Rules of Political Demography“. Age-structural theory is covered in a longer article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics.
The following spreadsheet (image posted below, downloadable here as an Excel Spreadsheet) is an effort to account for both the successes and failures of age-structural forecasts. Several forecasts have been discussed in lectures, but have not yet been published in either journals or in web essays. The next web essays will put these in print.
“Global Political Demography” in progress [Sept. 2018]. Editors Achim Goerres (U. Duisburg-Essen) and Pieter Vanhuyesse (U. Southern Denmark) are currently managing the review and editing processes of Global Political Demography, which is scheduled to be published in 2019. The initial meeting of authors was held in November 2017, at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Center for Global Cooperation Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. My contribution to this book is entitled, “Youthful Age Structures and the Risks of Revolutionary and Separatist Conflicts” (author: Richard Cincotta).