International security strategy: The socio-demographic and economic dawn of a new day

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4IntroductionThe world’s socio-demographic and economic plates are undergoing a shift of tectonic proportions. On the one hand, three types of socio-demographic worlds appear to be emerging (see Figure 1): An affluent first world of aging and declining populations, a second world composed of economically dynamic emerging countries with fairly balanced population dynamics that is urbanizing rapidly but risks growing old before it grows rich, and a third world composed of a rump of impoverished states with youthful populations that are growing at exponential rates, especially in urban areas with wholly inadequate infrastructure and services where “lagging economies, ethnic affiliations,intense religious convictions, and youth bulges will align to create a ‘perfect storm’ for internal conflict” in the near future (National Intelligence Council 2005: 97). Similar tothe youthful populations, rapid development, and urbanization of the first half of the nineteenth century, the pressure demographic developments of the twenty-first century are exerting on education, sanitation, energy supply, transportation, food storage and distribution, let alone interethnic relations are raising the spectre of systemic disorder,civil war, and political instability. On the other hand, the share of the first world’s – and especially the United States’ – share of the global economic pie is shrinking (see Figures2 and 3). In 1985 the United States peaked at one-third of global GDP. That share has since declined to one-quarter and is expected to reach one-fifth by 2017. Significant strategic implications follow from these developments. These implications differ considerably from those commonly propagated by pundits: The trends point to an end of the “big war” paradigm and they suggest that time may actually be on our side. At the same time though, youth bulges, migration and urbanization will drive political instability across concentrated areas of the global. That means more heavy lifting but fewer countries able to step up to the plate. The socio-demographic and economic challenges of this new security environment can be mastered if countries harness synergies and economies of scale and the conventional guardians of international security make up for shortfalls by making new friends.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationVienna, Austria
PublisherAustria Institut fur Europa und Slcherheltspolitik
Number of pages40
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • socio-economic factors
  • world economies
  • political instability


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