Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Other: The Demographic Paradigm Shift

The Spring 2009 issue of the Wilson Quarterly has an article by Martin Walker on the increasing realization that global and regional birthrate projections need regular revisiting, as small trends can eclipse the once-larger trends over time.

Particularly interesting in the light of the Iranian election fallout is this quote:
Iran is experiencing what may be one of the most dramatic demographic shifts in human history. Thirty years ago, after the shah had been driven into exile and the Islamic Republic was being established, the fertility rate was 6.5. By the turn of the century, it had dropped to 2.2. Today, at 1.7, it has collapsed to European levels. The implications are profound for the politics and power games of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, putting into doubt Iran’s dreams of being the regional superpower and altering the tense dynamics between the Sunni and Shiite wings of Islam. Equally important are the implications for the economic future of Iran, which by ­mid­century may have consumed all of its oil and will confront the challenge of organizing a society with few people of working age and many ­pensioners.
Of course, an important point of the article is that demographic projections can change when no one's looking. But while the birthrate can still rise, the oil levels can't.

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