Reducing the risks from rapid demographic change

We are entering a period in which the West’s postwar social welfare system is under growing threat as the global demographic structure is being turned upside down. And it is not just the West, but also China and other middle-income powers who will have to deal with an aging workforce and unsustainable health and pension costs in the next decade. For sub-Saharan African countries whose birthrates remain high, overpopulation carries big costs not only for them, but for the rest of the world, which will depend on them for a growing proportion of the world’s workforce.

In Reducing the Risks from Rapid Demographic Change, Dr. Mathew Burrows explores how longer life expectancies, aging workforces, and high birthrates will affect the future economic growth and development of countries around the world. Using a forecasting model developed by the University of Denver’s Pardee Center for International Futures, this report looks at different future scenarios, and investigates how medical advancements, migration, and unanticipated drops in fertility rates might affect current demographic trends.

The report concludes by recommending political and economic measures that can make a critical difference in whether we end up collectively poorer and more unstable, or able to fully enjoy the benefits of growing longevity. It is clear that managing demographic risk will be critical to every country’s future. Not making the right choices now can lessen economic potential for decades. There will be few second chances.


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