• Welcome to politicaldemography.org

    This website is dedicated to political demography, and to The Age-structural Theory of State Behavior (download article here). Read "The 8 Rules" for a quick summary of the theory. See sidebar (homepage) for key publications and web essays. Please follow the development of this research on Twitter at @rpCincotta or visit the New Security Beat.

  • Education, Urbanization, and the U.S. Presidential Election

    Go to article here 

    Rather than delve into issue opinion polling, or assess presidential campaign strategies, political demographers assume that political change is the predictable product of a set of mutually reinforcing social, economic, and demographic transitions, which can be tracked using data. But is this true in a country like the United States that has been in the advanced stages of these development transitions for decades? If these transitions are as important as demographers believe, could their variation among the 50 states explain the outcome of the recent U.S. presidential election? If so, what could they tell us about America’s electoral future?

    My attempt to answer these questions begins with a brief discussion of the CNN exit polling during the 2016 presidential election and ends with an analysis of the 2020 state results. Given what has already been said about the Democratic Party’s appeal among college-educated Americans and the Republican Party’s appeal among rural Americans, the basic conclusions are not surprising. What I find surprising is the ability of these individual party strengths, almost by themselves, to divide America’s states into a hard-to-change red and blue pattern. ….. (continue)

    Read more at the Wilson Center’s New Security Beat or download article here.


    Figure. U.S. Presidential election results, Nov. 2020, showing each state’s proportion of college graduates (vertical axis) and proportion of urban residents (horizontal axis).
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    The Hidden Factor in COVID-19 Mortality


    “Population Age Structure: The Hidden Factor in COVID-19 Mortality”


    Figure. Relative age-structural vulnerability to COVID-19 mortality
    Applying New York City’s (NYC’s) COVID-19-related age-specific mortality rates to a country’s population age structure produces an estimate of the expected countrywide mortality, relative to NYC at a similar level of prevalence.

    Until several months ago, demographers regarded a youthful age structure as an unequivocally detrimental demographic characteristic. Where more than half of the population is younger than age 25, countries are unable to attain high levels of economic and human capital development and face an increased risk of some forms of civil conflict. Yet, so far, during the ongoing pre-vaccine stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, the most age-structurally mature countries have been hardest hit by the disease. These countries are generally urbanized, wealthy, well-educated, and include a large proportion of seniors. And, somewhat surprisingly—despite being equipped with advanced medical technologies—these countries are experiencing the highest rates of mortality from complications related to COVID-19. See more …

    To view the rest of this brief article, go to its New Security Beat site, or download the essay here.

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    Emulating Botswana’s Fertility Transition

    Emulating Botswana’s Approach to Reproductive Health Services Could Speed Development in the Sahel

    This new web essay (on the NSB website <click here>) reviews research that uses the relatively rapid changes in Botswana’s age-specific fertility rates to produce a “Botswana historic fertility variant” and applies this projection to the populations of countries in the Western Sahel—a contiguous cluster of states with populations that remain at the early stages of the fertility transition. For these high-fertility countries, projections of this variant (up to the year 2050) fall roughly around the TFR trajectory the UN low fertility variant.


    Figure.  Declines in Fertility Across Women’s Age Groups in Botswana, Niger, and Mali from 1980–85 to 2015–20. In Botswana, girls’ education and a quality family planning program helped adolescents postpone childbearing and helped older women avoid the risks associated with unwanted middle-age pregnancy (Data source: UN Pop. Div., 2019 Rev.)

    This exercise provides a glimpse of what could possibly be achieved in some states in tropical Africa by emulating Botswana’s efforts to ramp up access to family planning, to decrease the frequency of teen pregnancies, and to increase girls’ educational attainment. However, the essay notes how different the Sahelian countries are from Botswana—a well-governed, resource-endowed southern African country with a relatively small, urbanized (>65%) population (2.3 million)—and thus the formidable challenges those differences present in attempting to replicate the pace of Botswana’s fertility transition.



    Figure.  UN Population Division’s High, Medium, and Low Fertility Variants for Niger and Mali vs. Botswana Historical Fertility Variant (BHFV). In both cases, applying Botswana’s age-specific pattern of fertility declines would produce a projection roughly similar to the current UN low fertility variant. (Data Source: UN Pop. Div., 2019 Rev. & author’s research)

    For the full essay, go to the NSB website <click here>

    Or, download the essay <click here to download>

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    Insights: The Political Demography of Iran

    Site of the world’s most rapid completion of the fertility transition

    Read the background story of Iran’s political demography from the online library of PoliticalDemography.org:

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    Which Demographic “End of History”?

    Dec. 9, 2019
    [Among the top 5 New Security Beat Posts, December 2019]

    Demography’s theoretical end-state is a set of hard-to-escape conditions typified by low and often sub-replacement levels of fertility, large proportions of retirees, and an aging workforce—an endpoint that the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends reports refer to as post-maturity. The shift toward post-maturity is so unrelenting in parts of Europe and East Asia that some analysts imagine humanity plunging globally into post-maturity. However, this scenario, which I call “Post-mature World,” is looking much less likely than its non-endpoint alternative (see Figure 1), a chronically demographically “Polarized World.”

    To visit the complete essay on the New Security Beat website, click HERE. Or, download the essay HERE.


    MapsThe age-structural phases of countries in Europe and in parts of Africa and Asia, 2015 & 2035 (projected). Maps represent the UN Population Division’s current estimates of median ages for 2015 and projections for 2035 (UN medium fertility variant). By 2035, most of Europe’s states will likely have advanced into post-maturity, whereas in the Sahel and tropics of Africa, countries will probably still be in the youthful phase of the age-structural transition. 

    Figure 1.  Post-mature World and its alternative Polarized World, showing the Global Trends four-phase schema representing the path of the age-structural transition. Black arrows indicate the transition’s path and identify the two hard-to-escape demographic conditions, the youthful and post-mature phases. In a Post-mature World, countries age and their populations eventually decline. In a Polarized World, human population continues to grow in the youthful regions, stimulating increased migration to nearby states and to more mature regions.
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