Sub-Saharan Africa: Looking Toward the Demographic Window

Over the past 25 years, economic and political demographers have focused on documenting the improvements in state capacity and political stability that have been realized in the wake of fertility declines in much of East Asia, Latin America, and most recently in the Maghreb of North Africa (Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria). Nonetheless, foreign affairs, defense and intelligence analysts still seem confused over when and where this demographic dividend should occur—and whether the youthful, low-income states of Sub-Saharan Africa are due to experience the dividend’s economically favorable age structures anytime soon. Because two very different development narratives vie for these analysts’ attention, their confusion is not that surprising.

     In this essay, I discuss the concept of “the demographic window” and compare economists’ perspectives on sub-Saharan Africa to that of political demographers.  I also identify 4 groups of countries in sub-Saharan Africa that have very different schedules for reaching the demographic window (and thus reaching the World Bank’s upper middle income category and other development milestones). For the entire essay, posted in the Woodrow Wilson Center’s New Security Beatsee this page.

Download this New Security Beat essay on Sub-Saharan Africa’s Demographic Window .

Putting Mali Back Together Again: An Age-Structural Perspective

Read “Putting Mali Back Together Again: An Age Structural Perspective” by Richard Cincotta, posted on the New Security Beat, May 9, 2013.

Once considered a model for Sahelian democracy, Mali’s liberal regime (assessed as “free” in Freedom House’s annual survey of democratic governance continuously from 2000 to 2011) virtually disintegrated in March 2012 when a group of junior army officers, frustrated by the central government’s half-hearted response to a rebellion in the state’s vast northern tier, found themselves – somewhat accidently – in control of the state. With renewed elections in Mali slated for July and French troops containing Tuareg and Islamist insurgents, the Sahelian state appears to be on track to start again where it left off just over a year ago. However, several African and Western political commentators contend that putting Mali’s laudably democratic, yet habitually fragile and chronically ineffectual regime, back together again is simply a bad idea.

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Whither the Demographic Arc of Instability

Read “Whither the Demographic Arc of Instability?“, an essay by Richard Cincotta featured on the Stimson Center Spotlight, November 2011.

One map that quickly garnered the attention of strategists outlined the world’s weak and politically fractious states – a pattern that came to be known as the “arc of instability” (Map 1, for 2000). Inside the arc, authoritarian governments ruled with little regard for law, insurgencies undermined economic hopes, and militant organizations capable of international terror, some linked to Al Qaida, were equipped and trained. Outside the arc existed a world of modern industrial and service economies, globalized communications, and trade.

Download “Whither the Demographic Arc of Instability? ” here …