AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: AEI’s Nicholas Eberstadt outlines demographic challenges confronting the US-led international order


American Enterprise Institute issued the following announcement on June 11.

In a new piece, AEI demographics expert Nicholas Eberstadt analyzes the population changes threatening the US, its allies, and its adversaries on the world stage. His research reveals that while China and Russia are confronting serious demographic challenges, the US is also battling negative life expectancy and lower education attainment trends, which pose a risk to its international leadership. Eberstadt urges policymakers to address these risks and recognize that the future of the US-led international order may lie with the young and growing democracies of the developing world.

Eberstadt also outlines demographic risks for the United States:

In 2014, US life expectancy began slowly but steadily dropping for the first time in a century. Improvements in educational attainment have also been stalled for decades. Further, it is possible that consensus projections for US population growth are too optimistic.


If US demographic and human resource indicators continue to stagnate or regress, Americans may lose their appetite for playing a leading role in international affairs. Isolationism and populism could thrive, and the US electorate could be unwilling to bear the considerable costs of maintaining the international order.

Analyzing the United States’ rivals, Eberstadt writes:

Although China is the US main international rival and world’s most populous country, China’s working age population has been shrinking for the past five years and it is set to decrease by at least 100 million between 2015 and 2040. By 2040, China could have twice as many elder people over the age of 65 as children under the age of 15.

For Russia, the demographic outlook may be even worse: it has an aging, shrinking population and difficulties assimilating the low-skilled immigrant work force on which its economy increasingly depends.

Eberstadt recommends that US policymakers begin formulating a new strategy in a world in which demographic advantages no longer guarantee US hegemony:

Many of Washington’s traditional allies face even more daunting demographic challenges than the US does: the EU and Japan have both registered subreplacement fertility levels since the 1970s.

Washington should turn its attention to South and Southeast Asia. As Japan and South Korea lose population, for instance, emerging democracies such as Indonesia and the Philippines will continue to grow.

If the United States can begin to repair its human capital base and forge new alliances for the 21st century, it can strengthen—with the aid of demographics—Pax Americana for generations to come.

To read the full piece: With great demographics comes great power

Original source can be found here.

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