›August 31, 2012 // By Blair A. Ruble
›August 30, 2012 // By Schuyler Null
Since its inception, there’s been a great deal of prognostication about the role and goals of the U.S. military’s newest regional command, AFRICOM. The smallest of the six regional commands, in terms of staff and budget, its objectives have included traditional roles like building local military capacities, confronting transnational threats (terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, small arms, drugs, etc.), and helping to mitigate violent conflicts, but also more development-oriented goals, like fighting HIV/AIDs and malaria, “strengthening democratic principles,” and “fostering the conditions that lead to a peaceful, stable, and economically strong Africa.”
Once again, the Iranian government is reversing its population policy – its fertility policy, to be more precise. Alarmed by the country’s rapidly aging population, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is now calling on women to procreate and have more children, and the Iranian Minister of Health and Medical Education Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi has recently said, “The budget for the population control program has been fully eliminated and such a project no longer exists in the health ministry. The policy of population control does not exist as it did previously.”
Burma (also known as Myanmar), a country plagued by internal political turmoil and direct or tacit military rule since 1962, had its first general elections in 50 years in 2010 and long-time jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi won a seat in the National Assembly, but questions remain as to how much power the military is willing to cede. Demography provides reason for hope that this turn towards democracy is more than temporary.
›August 27, 2012 // By Schuyler Null
“Population-health-environment [PHE] connections have really been a focus of ours here at the Wilson Center for the last 15 years,” said outgoing ECSP Director Geoff Dabelko in an interview at the Wilson Center. The goal of ECSP’s project – HELPS (health, environment, livelihoods, population, and security) – is “really trying to understand these issues together.”
›August 24, 2012 // By Kate Diamond
Over the next two decades, as many as three billion people will join the middle class, even as billions more live without electricity, modern cooking fuel, and safe and reliable access to food and water. Resources are becoming more scarce and more difficult to extract, and combined with environmental factors ranging from climate change to soil erosion, those changes will make meeting middle class demand all the more difficult while leaving the world’s poorest more vulnerable to price shocks and resource shortages. In a recent report, the McKinsey Global Institute concludes that nothing less than a “step change” in how resources are managed will be required if individuals, businesses, and governments are to overcome these trends and pave the way for a more sustainable and equitable future.
Every year, there are mixed reactions over the rankings and the efficacy of the Fund for Peace’s Failed States Index (FSI), the eighth edition of which was released in June. But this year, the criticism seems especially intense.
“Failed means there is no way back. Failed means a binary division between those countries that are salvageable and those beyond redemption. It is a word reserved for marriages and exams. It does not belong in a pragmatic debate,” wrote Claire Leigh for The Guardian in June.
›August 23, 2012 // By Wilson Center Staff
Economies benefit when people start having smaller families. As fertility falls, the share of working-age adults in the population creeps up, laying the foundation for the so-called “demographic dividend.” With fewer children, parents invest more in each child’s education, increasing human capital. People tend to save more for their retirement, so more money is available for investment. And women take paid jobs, boosting the size of the workforce. All this is good for economic growth and household income. A recent National Bureau of Economic Research study estimated that a decrease of Nigeria’s fertility rate by one child per woman would boost GDP per head by 13 percent over 20 years. But not every consequence of lower fertility is peachy. A new study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health identifies another and surprising effect: higher inequality in the short term.
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