Commentary on generational conflict and the radicalism of youth goes back at least as far as the ancient Greeks. Such conflict is probably always present to some degree in every family and every generation. Yet the coalescence of individual youthful impatience with the ways of the older generation into social movements of rebellion or revolution is something that happens more rarely and only when certain economic, political and social conditions prevail.
The Demography Trap: Global Trends, Policy Challenges
A number of global demographic trends are poised to impact human societies in the coming decades on scales ranging from local to regional to planetary. Youth bulges have been increasingly identified as drivers of revolution, but in fact a number of social conditions must be in place for youth cohorts to coalesce into rebellion. The spreading phenomenon of nonreplacement birth rates is leading to an aging global population, with profound implications for the future of humanity. And as the link between demography and security deepens, how a society treats women will determine whether demographic outcomes are favorable or not.
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The spread of nonreplacement birthrates has profound implications for the future of humanity. For one it means that the rate of human population growth has already slowed to less than half what is was in the 1970s, while the populations of several major countries are already shrinking in absolute size. And what growth of global population that does remain will primarily come from increases not in children, but in the numbers of old people.
Four major demographic trends will shape the global security landscape this century: differential fertility rates across nations, differential fertility rates within nations, differential sex ratios across nations and differential mortality rates across nations. Two decades of research have led me to conclude that the primary source of these demographic trends that breed insecurity is the systemic insecurity of the world's women.