“Long-term trends really are what shape the environment in the future,” said Jennifer Dabbs Sciubba in this interview with ECSP. “As we’ve seen recently with…revolution in North Africa, it’s the long-term trends that act together for these things to happen – I like to say demography is not usually the spark for a conflict but it’s the fodder.”
Sciubba is the Mellon Environmental Fellow in the Department of International Studies at Rhodes College. In her new book, The Future Faces of War: Population and National Security, she discusses the importance of demographic trends in relation to security and stability, including age structure, migration, youth bulges, population growth, and urbanization.
One of the most important things to emerge from the book, said Sciubba, is that countries that are growing at very high rates that are overwhelming the capacities of the state (like many in sub-Saharan Africa) really will benefit from family planning efforts that target unmet need.
Afghanistan, for example, “has an extremely young age structure,” Sciubba pointed out. “So if you’re trying to move into a post-conflict reconstruction atmosphere…you absolutely have to take into account population and the fact that it will continue to grow.”
“Even if there are major moves now in terms of reducing fertility, they have decades ahead of this challenge of youth entering the job market,” Sciubba said. “Thousands and thousands more jobs will need to be created every year, so if you have a dollar to spend, that’s a really good place to do it.”