29 June 2009
The human tide: An Australian perspective on demographics and security
By Mark Thomson
This report, authored by Mark Thomson, looks at demographics and security from an Australian perspective.The economic and demographic transition of countries from poverty to prosperity has been a driving force of history over the past two centuries, and is set to remain so for the remainder of the century. In the decades ahead, development and demographics will drive two profound changes in Australia’s strategic environment.
First, emerging countries like China and India will increasingly become major economic powers. The result will be a steady shift of economic power from the West to the East and from the rich to the poor.
Second, although economic growth will deliver improved standards of living to most of the world’s inhabitants, some vulnerable countries will be left behind as their populations grow. Critically for Australia, East Timor and parts of Melanesia are among those countries with poor prospects in this regard.
While Australia has limited scope to influence the seismic geopolitical shifts wrought by the rise of new powers, we can help mitigate the risks associated with demographics in developing countries.