The risks of future demographic inequalities
Global demographic inequalities are continuing to become more of a challenge. With warfare and disease ever more prominent and with food security requirements now at a premium, it is key for policymakers and practitioners to understand what lies ahead.
Long-term demographic trends influence government policies and international politics in multiple ways. Forecasts on the size, age and gender composition of the global population until 2080 is predicting a weaker pool of workers, forcing a greater divide between those in charge and those who are not. The ideas surrounding megacity warfare and riots, as well as climate change, are making a quicker impact, meaning practitioners need to move quickly to arrest key negative trends. It is key that coherent functional data models for impact on mortality, fertility and migration patterns are woven into the fabric of a country in need due to jolts to demographic lines.
The world’s population has aged rapidly over the past half-century. Some countries are already or will soon be experiencing prolonged periods of working-age population decline and aging, with major negative implications on appropriately trained labor pools. However, this is incomparable to what is projected to happen in the future. There need to be new approaches that look at the age composition of the population. Research shows that older people purchase a much higher share of services relative to goods, which tend to reset their prices less often.
The trendlines illustrate that countries and their demographic outcomes are harbingers of future contestation between the individual and the methods used to help bring states out of inequality over time. China is one example whose foreign policy mode is trade logistics networks and investment patterns. In 2013, Beijing launched the Belt and Road Initiative, including a so-called 21st-century Maritime Silk Road that crosses the Indian Ocean and continues up into the Mediterranean. There are now branches that go through the Middle East.
With a new surge in COVID-19 cases in China, lockdowns are returning. Various strains are popping up and long-term side effects are beginning to show lasting damage. The genetics and lineage damage are going to impact labor. This type of action is used to bring a halt to daily activity in several Chinese cities, but also in countries related to Belt and Road Initiative development. Halts in the supply chain lead to a prevalence of food insecurity. There needs to be more attention paid to vulnerable populations when formulating economic stimulus plans and coping strategies for food insecurity.
Age and rural issues are also complicating the challenges ahead in terms of demographics. Age now matters greatly. The world is becoming older and aging in developing countries is unfolding faster than most developed countries. Old-age dependency, an increase in life expectancy and gross domestic product per capita all have an impact on labor force productivity.
Meanwhile, in many developing countries, financial exclusion among the poor has been a major constraint to poverty reduction. Now, with upheaval in some locations, the damage is done. A remedy can be paying attention to how mobile phones and telecommunications are important in terms of connectivity between people — an approach that is ongoing and is now undergoing a serious upgrade in telecoms competition. But these networks form the baseline of what future generations may see as having damaged labor pools almost through a type of culling.
Forecasts on the size, age and gender composition of the global population until 2080 is predicting a weaker pool of workers.
Dr. Theodore Karasik
Finally, financial literacy, trust and income adequacy become important building blocks to achieve “community” for food security and, ultimately, positive factors that contribute to the demographic landscape. In the type of conditions many countries find themselves in today — rising prices, growing stresses and the continuance of disease and illness — the impact on government technocratic efficiency and trust in government ability flies out of the window, leading to more disenfranchisement instead of recovery.
Overall, population trend lines when combined with changing requirements for labor pools is going to require international organizations and governments to work more closely together to reverse inequalities. The growth of these inequalities can lead to violent reactions by those individuals and groups most affected by a lack in food security and safety nets. Technological solutions, while valuable, need to be applied more judiciously and with pinpoint accuracy for maximum benefit, guaranteeing future human security.
- Dr. Theodore Karasik is a senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @tkarasik