Event Date: 19 April 2012
Birkbeck Main Building
Birkbeck, University of London
Malet Street, Bloomsbury
London WC1E 7HX
The Politics of Population Change
‘If the 20th century was the century of the population explosion, the 21st century…is looking like the century of the fertility implosion,’ wrote New York Times columnist David Brooks on 13 March. Meanwhile, Richard Jackson and Neil Howe of the Center for Strategic and International Studies write that ‘Ten years ago, [demography] was hardly on the radar screen’ while ‘today, it dominates almost any discussion of America’s long-term fiscal, economic or foreign-policy direction.’ Rising media and policy coverage of the political effects of population change have not been matched by academic attention because politics and demography are discrete disciplines with few fora for interaction. This event represents an attempt to change this, and coincides with the publication of a new book, Political Demography: How Population Changes Are Reshaping International Security and National Politics (Paradigm/Pluto, 2012).
This event also launches the Birkbeck Politics Department’s Population, Environment and Resources Group. The nexus between population, environment, and resources is a vital one in an age of rising food prices, climate change and unprecedented demographic shifts. So too is the aging of populations in the developed world and the ‘youth bulge’ and continuing rapid population growth of sub-Saharan Africa and parts of west Asia. Global military power is related to relative population size and age structure, patterns of which are changing rapidly. Shifts in the ethnic and religious composition have stoked tensions in many societies. Meanwhile, global migration pressures, which lie behind ethnic change in the West, will peak in 2050. Finally, mass urbanization in the developing world is setting the stage for new social and political movements.
Professor Eric Kaufman (Birkbeck)
Professor Monica Duffy Toft (Harvard)
Professor Tim Dyson (LSE)
Dr Elliot Green (LSE)