Demographic Dangers & Declining Birth Rates, Part Seven A: Aging & the Projection of Power.
Rapidly aging populations & decreasing numbers of potential military combatants creates complex security concerns that can affect global power shifts. How can nations combat this, or is the urge to react militarily overwhelming?
“…perhaps, we should recalibrate our expectation of the relationship between aging and national security. One relevant theory does come to mind: Power transition theory, which argues that a state with declining power will act aggressively while it still can, (and that) would explain Russia’s actions as a last gasp and shed light on why rapidly aging China is doubling down on its military.”
Jennifer Sciubba, 8 Billion and Counting… (1).
A new arms race…
I began this series on demographics with the quote above, and we have now come almost full circle. Demographics is fast becoming the single most influential factor in the future of global geo-politics. It may yet drive further conflict as population dynamics everywhere undergo profound, irreversible change.
It has long been recognised that a large, healthy population is a valuable resource in the projection of state power. In particular, a large cohort of young males of military age who can provide ‘boots on the ground’ can actively contribute both economically, outside of times of war, and physically, during conflict, to a states power.
Thucydides, writing in the 5th century B.C., tells us of the rousing speech of Pericles, son of Xanthippus, as he addresses the Athenians, in dread at the prospect of facing the much feared Spartans (2).
“…we have citizen Captains and petty officers in greater numbers and of higher quality than in all the rest of Greece combined. And given the risks they would run, none of our foreign sailors would choose to switch sides for a few days of extra pay, when the price is exile from their own homes and the greater likelihood of defeat.”
But as populations age and fertility drops, the median age of a population rises and the cohort of…