The Global Balance of Population and Power Is Shifting

(AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

The UN recently announced that India will become the most populous country in the world, surpassing China by the middle of this year. That’s only the tip of the iceberg in a massive global shift in population that will alter the balance of world power in the next 30 years.

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China lost population last year for the first time in six decades. As Axios reports, China will eventually end up in the same boat as Japan — an aging population with a workforce insufficiently large to care for it.

China will increasingly face a similar challenge to Japan — where the population peaked 15 years ago, and the government is turning to automation and foreign workers to help care for the elderly and stoke the economy — at a much larger scale.

With 69% of its population between the ages of 15 and 64, China’s young people (17% between 1-15) are going to have a hard time breaking into the labor force.

Meanwhile, India’s population and economy are the fastest growing in the G-20, and they may have the third-largest economy in the world by 2030.

Companies including Apple are increasing manufacturing in India, often at the expense of China. The UN report had already led to a flurry of stories analyzing whether India could become the more economically powerful Asian giant.

Yes, but: The economy is still not creating nearly enough jobs for all the young people entering the workforce. More than 80% of Indians polled in the UN report said India’s population was already too high, with 63% saying economic issues tied to population growth were a top concern.

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By 2080, the UN expects there will be 10 billion people on planet Earth. And yes, we can feed that number. Despite what the Malthusians believe, we really are a very clever species and have proved the “Population Bomb” people wrong time and time again.

But growing food is only part of the equation today. A larger part of sustaining human populations is decent governments. There is not a famine today that isn’t manmade, and that includes nations affected by droughts and other natural calamities.

The upper limit of population on the planet is probably closer to 11 billion than 10 billion. And even that’s a bad guess. The real question is food production, and predicting how much better we can get at growing food is a crapshoot.

Today, we’re looking at a population explosion in sub-Saharan Africa.

The population of sub-Saharan Africa is growing far faster than any other region, and is expected to nearly double to 2.1 billion by 2050.

The region’s demographics look markedly different from every other region. In Nigeria, for example, 43% of the population is under 15 while just 3% is over 65, while the fertility rate per woman is 5.1.

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Political instability will hinder development in those countries, as will poverty and ignorance. And the number of refugees from that region is skyrocketing. It’s hard to see how conditions can improve much in the region and given present circumstances, they can only get worse for the vast majority of the people.

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