"Any way the wind blows" - Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody
I just finished reading ‘Empty Planet’ by D. Bicker and J. Ibbitson. Briefly summarized, the book essentially argues that the demographic challenge is not rapid population growth (as is often argued) but the opposite. The book makes a strong case that this is already the case (or a near certainty in the short-term) in many countries (including large population ones like China). Moreover, while we are used to deal with population growth – we have grown beyond numerous population milestones that predicted our certain demise since Robert Malthus – this is hardly the case for decline at the rate we will face it.
Some link the decline in population growth to increases in inflation and others to slower technological progress. It is becoming such a source of concern that some countries are making drastic policy changes. Of course, it should be noted that some point out that the changes in the demographic pyramid could be managed through better health (at old age) and other changes (such as remote work and the increased use of technology).
What does that mean for Africa and development? First, while Africa has a demographic opportunity, it is certainly not automatic that it will reap the benefits. The demographic shift needs to be accompanied by significant investment to reap the potential benefits. Secondly, Africa’s population growth could help address the foreseen labor gap in Europe, but this necessitates reflection and policy action in a wide range of areas such as migration and education. Who would have thought that within a decade or so, when we speak of a ‘migration crisis’ we will not be speaking of too many migrants but too few…
26.6.2021, Brussels, Belgium
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Online encampment of A. S. Barry. Disparate and not-so-disparate thoughts on international relations, development, writing, and life.