Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Demographics and the rise & fall of nations (6)

It is tempting to see the fall of nations as externally driven events, like earthquakes, military conflict, pandemic diseases and so on. Wednesday’s (Dutch) Telegraph featured an article of electoral geographer Josse de Voogd. Thursday’s Telegraph featured an article of senior citizens complaining about the Dutch PM’s political party. This made me wonder about a fall of nations, driven by internal events. The diagram below is the result of my thinking.

My diagram captures several developments, like declining Western child birth, urbanisation, (political) chaos, and the 3 main stages of society (Needs, Wants & Beliefs).

This diagram may explain (i) the fall of Western social democratic political parties, (ii) UK’s Brexit, and (iii) the rise of Trump in USA. These 3 regions are in the Beliefs stage of civilizations (see part 4 in Monday’s blog).

Brexit is a good example. Guardian, 2016: “it’s clear that densely populated urban areas with a lot of young people such as Hackney and Islington in London voted overwhelmingly to remain in the European Union.” “Local authorities with a high proportion of people born outside the UK, typically in London, also voted to remain in the UK.” Note: italic markings by LO.

The US Electoral College system makes rural states much more important than in a system based on proportional representation. Hence, the immense margin of 2.1% and some 2.9 million votes between both election outcomes. It’s tempting to wonder how the USA could look like.

In the forthcoming decades, China will test my hypothesis. Today, China is still in the Wants stage. China’s one-child policy “was introduced in 1979 and began to be formally phased out in 2015”. The toppling of China’s pyramid would bring China in the Beliefs stage of society for the simple reason that older people generally dislike – or even hate – Change.

Civilizations on the rise usually have the left pyramid with a predominantly young(er) population. The younger average population age brings them in the Needs stage (eg, Africa) or in the Wants stage (eg, China). Wikipedia’s list (and chart) of countries by median age appears to evidence my hypothesis.

It’s tempting to see age as nothing but a number. Usually only young people view age that way. Ageing brings resistance to Change and protecting what you have achieved (my 2016 blog). Young people typically embrace Change because they have less to protect (my 2016 blog). 

Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number (1994) by Aaliyah – artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2


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