Uncomfortable Companions: Fertility decline and Ideology in Iran

Essay entitled “Uncomfortable Companions” published in the Woodrow Wilson Center’s New Security Beat, March 5, 2018. Also see “Iran in Transition,” Carnegie Endow. Int’l Peace.

It should be an excellent time to be a young Iranian: High school and college enrollments in the Islamic Republic rank near the top of Muslim-majority countries. Women have only about two children on average, compared to 6.5 in the mid-1980s. And childhood mortality is projected to approach North American levels in the next 15 years. Yet, as the recent protests show, many young Iranians feel left out. Job growth—especially for young adults—has failed to keep pace with development, while persistently high rates of inflation steadily drive up the cost of living and cut deeply into Iranians’ savings.

Clearly, young Iranians expect more from their country’s economy. They aren’t alone. In Iran in Transitiona recent report published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Karim Sadjadpour and I show that Iran is traversing its demographic window of opportunity—an economically advantageous period marked by small proportions of dependent children and seniors, and a large proportion in the most productive working ages. In fact, Iran’s current worker bulge (Fig. 1, below) rivals those that helped make “economic tigers” out of Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and China.

Iran Demographic Pyramid

[To read the entire essay, go to version on the Wilson Center’s New Security Beat]

or download Uncomfortable Companions_ Fertility Decline and Ideology in Iran here. 

Attachments

Iran in Transition


Iran in Transition: The Implications of the Islamic Republic’s Changing Demographics

Richard Cincotta & Karim Sadjadpour

December 2017,  Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

In the late 1980s, Iran’s revolutionary government deployed a series of contraceptive and counseling services that would become one of the world’s most effective voluntary family planning programs. The country’s total fertility rate—the average number of children an Iranian woman could expect to bear during her lifetime—fell from five and a half at the program’s inception to two children per woman about two decades later. Consequently, Iran has entered an economically advantageous demographic window of opportunity, during which its working-age, taxable population far outnumbers children and elderly dependents. This transition has important implications for the country’s economic and political trajectory, as well as for U.S. policy toward Iran. [read more of the summary]

Go to the online version of Iran in Transition.

Download: Iran in Transition.

 

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 …  

Arab Spring: High Food Prices an Unlikely Cause of Revolts

Read “High Food Prices an Unlikely Cause for the Start of the Arab Spring” by Richard Cincotta, posted on the New Security Beat, April 2014.

Just months after popular uprisings toppled Tunisia and Egypt’s authoritarian regimes, a trio of complex-system researchers published a brief article linking these demonstrations with high levels of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s international Food Price Index. Marco Lagi, Karla Bertrand, and Yaneer Bar-Yam’s model, which predicts outbreaks of deadly social conflict when the index tops 210, has since become a popular explanation wielded by many for bouts of popular unrest, including the Arab Spring and overthrow of Ukraine’s government. But were food prices really an underlying “hidden” cause for the start of a wave of instability that is still being felt today?

Not everyone is convinced, least of all, international food policy analysts.

Read the rest of the essay here …. 

Israel: Ethno-religious Demography and the Future of Electoral Politics

View “Government without the Ultra-Orthodox?: Demography and the Future of Israeli Politics” by Richard Cincotta, published in the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s E-Notes, December 2013.

It would be hard to conjure up a more grave and immediate set of peacetime challenges than those that Israel faces—from the advances in Iran’s nuclear program, to the political instabilities that continue to play out along the length of its borders. Yet, the outcome of the January 2013 election of the 19th Knesset appears to have been shaped less by the Israeli public’s perceptions of foreign threats, and more by its domestic concerns.

This brief note raises two questions: How did Yesh Atid rise from a virtual standing start to claim a critical position in Israel’s 33rd government? And what does this party’s electoral achievement mean for the future of Israel’s democracy?

Download “Government Without the Ultra-Orthodox?” here …