Article: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics

The Age-structural Theory of State Behavior

Richard Cincotta

ABSTRACT: Over the past three decades, economic and political demographers, using various measures, have discerned that increased age-structural maturity makes significant statistical contributions to levels of per capita income, to educational attainment, to declines in the frequency of onsets of intrastate conflict, and to the likelihood of achieving and maintaining liberal democracy. Some of the stronger statistical relationships have been used in forecasts. For example, using the United Nations Population Division (UNPD) demographic projections, political demographers have relied on the strong statistical association between age structure and stable liberal democracy to forecast the rise of democracy in North Africa more than two years in advance (in 2008)—at a time when regional experts believed that forecast to be absurd.

Whereas critics remain skeptical of the murky causal connections of age-structural theory, its proponents counter that causality in the development of state capacity is complex and is less important than the theory’s positive qualities (namely, that it is forward-looking, its statistical findings are easily repeated, its forecasts have out-competed regional experts, and its predictive products can be readily adapted to the needs of intelligence foresight, defense planning, and foreign policy analysis). Perhaps most important, the age-structural theory of state behavior has yielded a surprising number of “novel facts”—new knowledge concerning the observed pace and timing of state political, social, and economic behaviors.

Full article is published in: 

Cincotta, R. (2017) “The Age-structural Theory of State Behavior.” In William Thompson (Ed.), Oxford Research Encyclopedia: Politics, Oxford Univ. Press. DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637 .013.327;

The full article is downloadable here or request article from author (click here).

And it is available as a web article at the Oxford Research Encyclopedia site, at Oxford University Press.

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The Beginning of History: Advanced Aging and the Liberalness of Democracy

Read “The Beginning of History: Advanced Aging and the Liberalness of Democracy” by Richard Cincotta, originally published in the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2030 blog in August, 2012.

Are the combined effects of population aging and immigration powerful enough to place at risk the liberal content of Europe’s democratic regimes? In this essay I’ve argue that it could; that today’s confident clusters of European and East Asian liberal democracies (states rated as “FREE” in Freedom House’s annual survey) will, as they age beyond the median age of 45 years, incur greater risks of losing elements of the political rights and civil liberties that previous generations of their citizens and political leaders worked hard to attain.

Download “The Beginning of History” here …

 

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Myanmar’s Inability to Ascend to Liberal Democracy

See the New Security Beat essay by Rachel Blomquist and Richard Cincotta on Myanmar’s long-term inability to integrate minorities and to ascend to liberal democracy (FREE in Freedom House’s annual assessment).

According to political demographers, who study the relationship between population dynamics and politics, two characteristics when observed together provide a rather good indication that a state is about to shed its authoritarian regime, rise to a high level of democracy, and stay there. Myanmar has both.

So why, despite an impressive succession of social reforms and political reversals, including the recent victory of the National League for Democracy led by Aung San Suu Kyi and the first elected civilian president, U Htin Kyaw, should analysts remain somewhat skeptical of Myanmar’s ability to make the leap to liberal democracy? The answer can be found in Myanmar’s dismal record of managing inter-ethnic politics, particularly the systematically disenfranchised Muslim Rohingya minority.
Read more ….

Venezuela’s Turn? Age Structure and Liberal Democracy in South America

View the article, “Venezuela’s Turn?”, originally published on New Security Beat.

Over the coming months, political demographers will be closely watching the evolution of events in Venezuela. Why? Theorists in this field expect states to rise to stable levels of liberal democracy when they meet two criteria. One is demographic, the other political. For the first time, Venezuela meets both. Nonetheless, the lead choice for a new liberal democracy in South America is Colombia, which (according to Freedom House’s most recent assessment) is on the verge of entering its “Free” category — at 3.0 and trending upward. Next year’s assessment will hinge on the success or failure of the government’s FARC demobilization process.

For those following the “2008 prediction” made in the Wilson Center publication “Half a Chance“, Colombia’s climb to liberal democracy would mean the fulfillment of both predictions (at least one FREE in North Africa, at least one in the northwest corner of South America by 2020).

Read more …

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Will Tunisia’s Democracy Survive? A View from Political Demography

View the article, Will Tunisia’s Democracy Survive? A View from Political Demography, originally published on The New Security Beat.

What chance does Tunisia’s democracy have of withstanding the formidable challenges that periodically arise? Surprisingly, a good chance, according to recent research in political demography, a field that is focused on a limited yet robust set of relationships between demography and political outcomes.

Read the rest of “Will Tunisia’s Democracy Survive?” A View from Political Demography” here …