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Do demographics still weigh in on geopolitics?

3 episodes
  • 1
    The weaponisation of demography in geopolitical relations
  • 2
    “Demographics in the US are a source of power”
  • 3
    Geopolitics: “the impact of migration is essentially regional”
Épisode 1/3
Richard Robert, Journalist and Author
On November 24th, 2021
3 mins reading time

Key takeaways

  • For a long time, power was determined by population number; along with GDP per capita, it remains a major determinant.
  • But geopolitics is dynamic: more than absolute figures, there are trends should be followed.
  • Moreover, the power logic is now capital- and technology-intensive, rather than labour-intensive, so the capacity for innovation could weight in over demographic factors.
  • The theme of “climate migrants” has replaced the “demographic boom” of the 1960s, but so far disruptions have been local rather than geopolitical.
  • On the other hand, the “weaponisation” of migratory movements must be considered carefully because it renews the repertoire of hybrid conflicts.
Épisode 2/3
Richard Robert, Journalist and Author
On November 24th, 2021
4 mins reading time
Nicholas Eberstadt
Nicholas Eberstadt
Senior adviser to the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR)

Key takeaways

  • A large population is a necessary condition for being a global geopolitical player, but beyond the head count another key factor is human capital.
  • In the short run, the risk of demographic decline or low human capital does not affect authoritarian regimes’ will to show strength on the international stage – even if it is detrimental for them in the long run.
  • China’s spectacular rise to the status of a ‘superpower’ was associated with demographic factors that are now having a negative effect.
  • Thanks to its demographic profile (natural growth, educational level, and qualified immigration) the US still has a comparative advantage. But as for its demographic dynamism, there might be trouble in paradise.
Épisode 3/3
Richard Robert, Journalist and Author
On November 24th, 2021
3 mins reading time
Hervé Le Bras
Hervé Le Bras
Research director in demographics at EHESS and Emeritus research director at Ined

Key takeaways

  • The geopolitical impact of migration remains low when considering relations between major powers, but it is more marked on a regional scale.
  • Some of the tensions within the European Union are based on the issue of migration and the use of migration to exert pressure on the EU by some of its neighbours is a new development.
  • Outside Europe, “climatic” migration nowadays takes place over very short distances.
  • The refugee phenomenon, both in Africa and in Europe, can affect the stability of states and their relations.