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Population Decline and the Remaking of Great Power Politics Hardcover – December 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Great Power Politics is a book that keeps strong ethical principles in mind while analyzing the real-world demographic problems of great powers."—Joseph Meaney, National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly
(Joseph Meaney National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly)

"Demography isn’t destiny. But demography is important, and its implications are often surprising. The essays in this book avoid the twin traps of fatalism or wishful thinking. At once remarkably informative and intellectually challenging, they force us to confront realities one might prefer to avoid but also invite us to think in imaginative ways about how to deal with global aging and population decline."—William Kristol, editor, Weekly Standard
(William Kristol)

"The authors of Population Decline and the Remaking of Great Power Politics shine a bright light upon a tremendously important but underexamined aspect of international security, demonstrating the powerful influence of demography on the development of the strategic environment."—Thomas G. Mahnken, Jerome E. Levy Chair in Economic Geography and National Security, U.S. Naval War College
(Thomas G. Mahnken)

"We live in an era of many challenges. But few are as certain as global aging—and few are likely to have as large and enduring an impact on the shape of the world order. Planning national security strategy without regard for the implications of demographic change is like setting sail without a map or a compass. The essays in this volume offer a wealth of insightful analysis that will help those navigating tomorrow’s turbulent geopolitical waters to steer a safer and surer course."—Richard Jackson, senior fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies, and coauthor of The Graying of the Great Powers: Demography and Geopolitics in the 21st Century
(Richard Jackson)

About the Author

Susan Yoshihara is director of the International Organizations Research Group and senior vice president for research at the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. She is the author of Waging War to Make Peace: U.S. Intervention in Global Conflicts (2010), and her work has appeared in numerous periodicals. She received her PhD in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. She lives in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.

Douglas A. Sylva is a senior fellow at the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. He has also served on various Holy See delegations at the United Nations. He is a widely published writer whose articles have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, the Washington Times, the Weekly Standard, and National Review. He holds a PhD in political science from Columbia University and lives in Summit, New Jersey.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books (December 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597975508
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597975506
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,224,701 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Jeri VINE VOICE on April 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
There is a revolution taking place, but few seem to have noticed. Most of the developed countries of the world are plagued, not by overpopulation, but by a stunning decline in their populations.

For half a century or more, the belief has been that fertility decline will result in, as Cincotta argued, "'a more peaceful and secure world'" (p 109). Fewer children would mean greater resources for everyone and lead to prosperity. Which is why the EC spent "650 million Euros on sexual and reproductive health" (p 110) to produce fewer children in poor countries.

This book challenges the assumption that population decline will lead to peace and prosperity. In many ways, it overturns it utterly. The authors of these essays conclude the world may well be "headed for a period of instability among the great powers on account of population decline" (p 202).

Europe itself is undergoing a drop in population so dramatic there will likely be "88 million fewer Europeans by the end of the century" (p 34). Will these developed nations be able to continue their social programs when the ratio of retired senior citizen to worker shrinks to almost one to one? Under such circumstances, can Europe afford a military? Or expect to have any influence in the world?

Certainly it is possible that many of the developed countries in the world will see their influence dim as their manpower and military might lessens. One possible outcome of having nations overburdened by large numbers of the elderly is that they prefer peace to almost anything.

But, as one essay points out, they might also end up "trapped between a policy of appeasement...and a strategy of massive nuclear retaliation" (p 144), a worrisome prospect.
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Slowly... oh, so slowly, the word is getting out that we are in the midst of a demographic transition. Most of the attention is given to changing ethnicity in the West and North America--especially when it changes the results of an election! The more important demographic transition, however, is the inexorable decline in birth rate across the board. The future of that trend is now in Japan, other parts of Asia, and most of Europe, Seniors become an ever-increasing percentage of a society with all the consequences that entails in terms of retirement benefits and especially health care. Few have continued to connect the dots to another result: the decline of overall military and economic vigor as there are fewer and fewer young, energetic individuals. Yoshihara and company do so. And, yes, they consider the possibility that a graying society will become less militaristic, but they do not hold out a lot of hope for a wide-spread geriatric peace, and rightly so.

This book is worth the investment. I wish political leaders on both sides of the aisle in the US were reading it, too.
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