Monday, June 25, 2007

It's all about the demographics

David Foote is a Canadian demographer who has written about how demographics affects everything and how societies should plan around this foreseeable phenomenon.

For instance, it should not be surprising that Quebec's aging population will strain the healthcare system while Alberta's younger population will be using less healthcare services and paying more in taxes. The result: Alberta has not budget deficit, nor any debt. (True, the oil revenues help. But it's also about good demographics.)

What about the rest of the world? What kind of demographic facts should we be noticing to plan better?

German sociologist Gunnar Heinsohn argues that the "youth bulge" phenomena (when 30 percent of the population is young men) causes many societies descend into mass murder and revolution. That's why he doesn't have much hope for an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict anytime soon and in worried by the ability of the European welfare state to support the Muslim "youth bulge" in Europe itself.

Heinsohn argues that lasting peace in Europe was possible after the Second World War because Germans put the brakes on the rapid birthrate they had previously.

“In Europe we have just celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Rome Treaty and in all the newspapers we could read that this treaty ended war in Europe. This is absolutely wrong. If the Germans after 1945 had reproduced as they did between 1900 and 1914, then we would have had a German nation of almost 500 million citizens, and we would have had about 80 million German men between 15 and 29. In reality we have 7 million. And we may well ask ourselves whether these 80 million would have been as peaceful as the present 7 million, or would have been detonating bombs in Breslau or Danzig.” (These former German cities - now called Wroclaw and Gdansk - were ceded to Poland following Nazi Germany’s defeat in 1945, ed.)
Read the rest.

(Disponible en francais aussi.)

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