4 April 2013


With the global population set to plateau at 10 billion by the year 2050, the April issue of The World Today looks at the global winners and losers in a grey new world of falling birth rates and increased mortality.

Advances in medicine and health care mean that people all over the globe are living longer. At the same time mothers in most countries are having fewer babies. The combination is a demographic timebomb, says Sarah Harper of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing. She discusses the global economic and political challenges that lie ahead.

Economist George Magnus argues that population ageing is a fundamental economic problem. He warns that governments must think seriously about adopting more open immigration policies and encouraging older citizens to remain in work for longer.

Demography is no longer solely a European concern. Qiyu Tu, from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, examines China's attempts to come to terms with a sharply decreasing supply of cheap labour while The Economist's Simon Long looks at the astonishing decline in fertility rates in the Asian 'Tigers'.

Richard Jackson, director of the Global Ageing Initiative at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, warns that dealing with Japan's chronic demographic problem will require a government-led response no less momentous than the transformations of the Meiji Restoration and the post-Second World War revival.

Finally, author Caryle Murphy argues that Saudi Arabia's ruling 'gerontocracy' is not sustainable in the long term and will soon come under pressure from the kingdom's cyber-savvy youth population.

Notes to Editors

The World Today is Chatham House's bi-monthly international affairs magazine. Articles from the current issue are available online and are open-access.

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