Welcome to politicaldemography.org
This website is dedicated to the scientific study of age-structural political demography. Updates can be followed on Twitter at @rpCincotta .
Abstract: Whether their responsibilities cover foreign assistance, diplomacy or defense, policymakers and their staffs regularly seek out realistic assessments of future trends in states and regions upon which they focus. In 2006, as part of its Global Trends publications effort, analysts at the US National Intelligence Council began to explore the possibility of producing ‘timed statistical forecasts’ by coupling theories from age-structural political demography with the UN Population Division’s demographic projections. The effort has produced easily-communicated graphical models that can be regenerated and tested, and forecasts that have regularly out-performed conventional analyses by country and regional experts. Although limited in scope, these simple demographic models provide fresh insights into the expected timing of the rise of specific political, social, and economic indicators (including liberal democracy; civil conflict; and discrete levels of per-capita income, educational attainment, and child survival) among modern states—some of which disagree with conventional wisdom.
The lecture summarizes the methods and findings of the recent Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics (2017) article entitled “The Age-structural Theory of State Behavior“.
Speaker: Richard Cincotta
Date: Nov. 22, 2017, Time: 18:30-20h
Venue: University of Duisburg-Essen, Room LS 105, Lotharstr. 53, 47057 Duisburg
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 Beat, see this page.
Download this New Security Beat essay on Sub-Saharan Africa’s Demographic Window .
WHITE PAPER: Assessing Political Demography’s Potential Application to Foreign Policy, Defense, and Intelligence Analyses
Authors: Richard Cincotta, Jack A. Goldstone and Jennifer Dabbs Sciubba
This white paper describes ongoing progress in political demography and its contributions to foreign affairs analysis, defense planning, and intelligence analysis. Political demography—“the study of the size, composition, and distribution of the population in relation to both government and politics” (Weiner and Teitelbaum, 2001)—has accumulated a substantial body of descriptive and predictive theory over the past 50 years. Although slow and discontinuous during much of that history, the field has more recently begun to coalesce, as evidenced by a spike in publication of works in the field and the creation of the Political Demography & Geography Section of the International Studies Association.
To continue, download full paper
To visit the National Academies’ Social and Behavioral Sciences Decadal Survey on National Security web page, click here.
The Age-structural Theory of State Behavior
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;
Early advances in age-structural political demography were pioneered within the (U.S.) National Intelligence Council’s Long-range Analysis Unit (now called “Strategic Futures”). That work has continued through collaborations between the NIC and political demographers. Some of the NIC’s political demography products are featured in three of hte NIC’s quadrennial strategic foresight series, entitled Global Trends.
Political demography can be found in the following sections in these 3 Global Trends publications, beginning in 2008:
Global Trends 2025, A Transformed World (published 2008): Chapter 2: the Demographics of Discord, pp. 19-26.
Global Trends 2030, Alternative Worlds (published 2012): MEGATREND 3, Demographic Patterns, pp. 20-29.
Global Trends: Paradox of Progress (published 2016): People, pp. 161-166.