At a conference on the Chinese economy in 2012, Cai Fang, a demographer at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, issued a dire warning: “There’s now no doubt China will be old before it is rich.” He was expressing a view widely held by economists and China watchers. Over the past 65 years, life expectancy in China has more than doubled, from 35 years to roughly 75, as the fertility rate has plunged. Many fear that if these trends continue, China’s population will age faster than the country can accommodate.
This is an idea first proposed by Vice President Biden in 2006 when he was a senator. It was a non-starter then and it won't work any better today. While the Kurdish region in the north is already almost an independent country, neither Shiites nor Sunnis are interested in splitting up the rest of Iraq—something that would be hard to do, in any case, because the two sects are intermingled in Baghdad and other areas. Just as the solution to Iraq's last major bout of bloodletting, in 2003-2007, wasn't partition, so it isn't today.
Populations throughout the developed world are aging and shrinking, with dire consequences. Yet decline is not inevitable. Even in the industrialized world, governments can encourage childbearing through policies that let women reconcile work and family.
Michael W. Hodin says the most recent crisis in the Netherlands may actualy be an opportunity for the Dutch to provide an economic model for nations to follow, where an aging population is the solution for economic growth.
As the world's population surpasses seven billion, CFR Senior Fellow for Global Health Yanzhong Huang identifies the variety of ways in which different global regions are impacted by population growth. Huang argues that a region- and issue-specific approach is needed to address population issues.
Large numbers of unemployed youth have been behind the protests for change in the Middle East. Demographics expert Ragui Assaad says the region must move toward democracy and open economic systems to turn the youth bulge into an opportunity.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.
The authors argue that the United States has responded inadequately to the rise of Chinese power and recommend placing less strategic emphasis on the goal of integrating China into the international system and more on balancing China's rise.
Campbell evaluates the implications of the Boko Haram insurgency and recommends that the United States support Nigerian efforts to address the drivers of Boko Haram, such as poverty and corruption, and to foster stronger ties with Nigerian civil society.
Learn more about CFR’s mission and its work over the past year in the 2014 Annual Report. The Annual Report spotlights new initiatives, high-profile events, and authoritative scholarship from CFR experts, and includes a message from CFR President Richard N. Haass. Read and download »