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 .
“Democracy in Iran? The demographics say YES” — but the Regime Type says NO
Bloomberg View (plus Bloomberg Business Week) has published Leonid Bershidsky’s excellent article on age-structural theory. Clearly, Bershidsky has read through and grasped much of the research (thank you, Leonid!). Bershidsky uses the theory to discuss recent anti-regime demonstrations in Iran and their outcome, and he neatly summarizes the theory’s predictions and points out its strengths. Notably, he also explores some of the theory’s weaknesses dealing with various types of authoritarian regimes that persist despite the societal changes that are associated with a more mature population and passage through the demographic window.
The article can be viewed at the Bloomberg View website, here.
Bershidsky is right — that aspect of the theory remains weak. To strengthen it, I’ve been using the Authoritarian Regime Data Set (Hadenius, A., J. Teorell, and M. Wahman. 2012. “Authoritarian Regimes Data Set, version 5.0: Codebook.” Lund, Sweden: Department of Political Science, Lund University). Putting Hadenius et al.’s regime types into “age-structural time” produces the following hypothetical relationships with population age structure (click on image to enlarge it).
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.
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.