Stratfor on Demography

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Stratfor does geopolitics. Geopolitics involves geography, and geography is intimately tied to demographics. You can only understand a society by its people. Now, it varies what the problems are. In some places, you have exploding populations; in some places, you have declining populations; in some places, you have people living in territory not large enough to sustain their needs.

All of this can predict things as to what's going to happen. All of this can of course explain contemporary problems. So demographics is something we study constantly. And in some countries, it's vital and you can't understand it in any other way. So for example to understand the demographic problems of Central Africa, it's crucial for understanding Central Africa and to understanding China's one-child policy — you cannot understand China without that. And so on. Demography is a critical dimension of everything we do.

We are already facing the major demographic shift, which is the declining birthrate. In every group, in every ethnic group, in every region, the number of children being born to women is in decline. The world is undergoing a fundamental shift — the process that began 300 years ago of population explosion is coming to an end. The population is still growing of the world but at a diminishing rate. And by the end of the century, you will have stable global population or even declining population. While¬†today¬†countries like Germany and Japan are already facing massive population busts, and over the next 20 years it's going to be one of the major issues in the world.

Countries that both have declining populations and cannot compensate for them for technology may well have a declining place in the world order. But I think one of the important things to understand is that it is the advanced and industrial countries that have the falling populations, and they're the ones most likely to introduce solutions — solutions such as robotics, solutions such as life-extending medicine, life-enhancing medicine. It is not the falling population that is the problem; it is the falling population without technical solutions. And worst of all, a falling and aging population in which the older people live for an extended period of time while suffering debilitating diseases and the younger people are too few to take care them. That is the problem.

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