Relationship between population growth and international security

National Security and Population |

relationship between population growth and international security

Conflict in International Relations by both policy-making and academic communities of the close links between population and security. High rates of population growth were seen as having a detrimental effect on economic development. It is not so much a question of how population growth threatens world security, the implications for the international political order and the balance of world. The impact of the growth and decline of population on important types of Yet, the relationship between population and war is not one of them. .. In these conditions, scholars of international politics expect security dilemma logic to drive .

Where a country's population grows faster than the government's revenues, administration and welfare provision become increasingly difficult. Criticism of the state is likely to mount along with state debts, and elites are more prone to oppose a decaying government. Among elites, if their numbers are growing rapidly relative to the growth of the economy, and hence of jobs suitable for elites, they are more likely to become polarized and initiate violent conflicts over control of the government and resources.

In addition, where elites are drawn from all major ethnic or religious groups in a society, there seems to be less violence. However, where elites are concentrated in one dominant ethnic or religious grouping that excludes and discriminates against other groups, violent conflict is a greater risk. Finally, countries with greater material deprivation as indicated by higher rates of infant mortality, or scarcity of land or jobs for peasants and workers often have large populations that can readily be tempted by elite promises of better material conditions in return for enlisting in campaigns of violence.

This is especially true in societies with larger proportions of urban population, and of young men, as such societies have potentially more people who are concentrated and easily mobilized for group violence. Goldstone has shown how these effects contributed to numerous rebellions and revolutions throughout history, including the English and French Revolutions, and the Taiping Rebellion in China.

Because certain demographic conditions can create opportunities favorable for elites to mobilize populations for violence, researchers examining particular cases of conflict often find demographic preconditions such as rapid population increase, high rates of urban growth, and large youth cohorts. However, this does not mean that in general such conditions conduce to violence. Rather, population growth can lead to violence where state revenues, economic growth, and the expansion of elite positions fall behind the demands created by population increase.

Countries with fiscally sound governments, strong economic growth, and stable elites can avoid violent conflicts regardless of demographic conditions. Non-violent Environmental and Demographic Security Threats In contrast to violence, the range of non-violent environmental and demographic security NEDS threats is widespread; but doubts about the severity of these problems remains high.

relationship between population growth and international security

Damage to the atmosphere—mainly in regard to ozone destruction and global warming —has led to extensive international negotiations and treaties, although thus far these have only been effective with regard to controlling ozone depletion. Debates on the magnitude of the threat to global well-being from climate changes due to human activity continue to hamper political agreements.


All of these NEDS threats are affected by changes in the size, density and geographic distribution of populations. In particular, larger populations, dispersed over larger areas, generally increase their use of energy for production and transportation, and destroy habitat and spread pathogens. Population changes thus tend to increase NEDS threats if their consequences are not appropriately controlled.

However, control of such threats is often difficult because actions and events in one country can create NEDS threats in others. Acid rain and particulates are carried thousands of kilometers by high altitude winds; over-fishing affects all countries that exploit a given fishery; carbon emissions or forest destruction affect global and not just local atmospheric and weather conditions.

Efforts to deal with NEDS threats often stumble on the need to build complex international agreements that meet the needs of countries at vastly different levels of economic development and with very different degrees of responsibility for the creation of such threats.

In sum, the relationships between demographic variables and national security are varied and complex. Simple and direct relationships are absent; rather, contingent and indirect relationships dominate. In the area of VEDS threats, demographic conditions generally facilitate, rather than cause, political violence, creating more or less fertile ground for elites to mobilize groups for violent action. Yet elite conditions and motivations, and the political institutions that regulate elite interaction, are the key factors that determine whether violence will arise.

For the more diffuse NEDS threats, dealing with the impact of population growth and dispersion seems critical. However, political factors again are key, for the international agreements that seem necessary to regulate NEDS threats have been difficult to achieve, given the varied goals and prospects of different countries. Revolution and Rebellion in the Early Modern World.

relationship between population growth and international security

University of California Press. Paul Diehl and Nils Petter Gleditsch.

  • Population and Security

State Failure Task Force Report: Science Applications International Corporation. Hauge, Wenche, and Tanja Ellingsen. Homer-Dixon, Thomas, and Jessica Blitt.

Therefore, attainment of a New International Economic Order is essential to the resolution of population problems. On the other hand, was the view that demographic variables are an essential aspect of social and economic development. Attention to population issues, therefore, must accompany the formulation of any social policy.

Demographic policies must be considered as essential to overall development as economic policies, and specific attention has to be given to population interventions. These competing perspectives focused mainly on the position of population policy in the overall priorities for development.

Population policy in this context was viewed largely in terms of policies designed to control fertility. Demographic issues continued to be defined in terms of births, deaths, and attendant social implications. The full range of population variables--size, composition, distribution, and change--was not the subject of explicit debate or discussion.

Since the World Population Conference, there have been numerous international conferences which have drawn attention to the problems of developing countries and to overall international transformation and change.

relationship between population growth and international security

During the s, population issues assumed a more prominent position on all international agendas. Yet while discussions of issues such as urbanization, pollution and desertification have included demographic dimensions, the focus of such discussions has mainly been the concern of developing countries for development. Thus, even though demographic considerations have been integrated with general economic development, they have been implicitly viewed as exogenous to development.

In addition, nowhere in the international communitys agenda have the conflict producing effects of population variables, nor the changes in demographic characteristics due to conflict situations, been considered. Conversely, the contribution of demographic change to conflict resolution and the prospects for peace likewise have been ignored. Post Bucharest During the s, the international communitys concern with demographic issues assumed two new guises: Such activities not only have broadened the basic discussion of economic development, but also have changed the idiom of international discourse.

Throughout, the developing countries have insisted that their developmental problems are fundamentally different from those faced by industrial countries at an earlier historical period and that their solutions also would differ.

This insistence by the developing countries on the importance of defining issues in terms relevant and appropriate to them is by far the most significant outcome of the long deliberations of the s. This trend is part and parcel of the increasing politicization which surfaced at the World Population Conference, and promises to remain as a necessary consequence of international change and transformation during the last quarter of the twentieth century.

There have been several major United Nations Conferences since the World Population Conference excluding special sessions of the General Assembly. They have dealt with food, the role of women, employment, human settlements, desertification, technical cooperation among developing countries, agrarian reform and rural development, science and technology for development, the management of radio frequencies, and new renewable sources of energy.


Although these global forums took account of demographic issues, none of them focused explicitly and comprehensively on population factors. While these meetings have helped to maintain global concern for population issues, the resulting recommendations have not yet reached the level of global diplomatic discourse. The International Conference of Parliamentarians on Population and Development issued the Colombo Declaration in September which recognized that world population could continue to rise to eight to ten billion people by the year This would mean a need for nearly an additional billion jobs in developing countries.

The Conference Declaration called on governments to facilitate the attainment of goals of the New International Economic Order. The role of legislators as active agents in the development process was put forth as a major tenet of the Conference.

This factor in itself both further legitimized and politicized concerns over population issues and their developmental implications. The target of one billion dollars in international population assistance byconstituted the Conferences specific recommendation regarding financial allocations. The Rome Declaration on Population and the Urban Future, issued in Septemberargued that strategies sustained by national legislation and financial support should focus on three areas: This conference is important for its recognition of urban-related problems, a sphere where many of the most glaring population-conflict linkages are the most readily apparent.

Recognition of these linkages would have strengthened the Rome Declarations thrust immeasurably. Sixty per cent of the worlds population is located in Asia. If present trends continue, the declaration stated, 90 per cent of the worlds poor will be in that region.

Almost 60 per cent of the total population of Asia is under 25 years of age, a factor that has critical implications for development. However, Asian parliamentarians made no use of the accumulating evidence regarding the implication of youthful populations for social disruption and potential conflict.

The evidence comes, admittedly, from social science analysis in the West and cannot, therefore, be transferred uncritically to other regions. The Beijing Declaration expanded further its recognition and affirmation of the role of legislators in the formation of population policies and as critical actors in the process.

The Beijing Declarations statement that "peace, national security, and stability are preconditions for development" is a major landmark in the international communitys acknowledgment of the many dimensions of population issues. Any global agenda for action during the decade of the s should emphasize efforts to implement the directives outlined in calls for a New International Economic Order that were expressed in almost every major international conference throughout the s.

In the process, demographic considerations, and a host of attendant population issues, will remain in the forefront. The international meetings since the World Population Conference reiterated the multi-faceted aspects of population issues.

As a result, population variables have been recognized as essential factors--more than building blocks, mortar, and concrete--for development. Nonetheless, other dimensions of the population issue--those that bear directly on conflict propensities and national security--remain to be recognized.

By the end of the 1 s, the international community was manifesting its concern with developmental problems in another way through intensive analysis by international groups of scholars in conjunction with decision-makers from different parts of the world. One important consequence of this new trend has been a set of international reports on the development issues. Several reports are particularly noteworthy as they represent the evolution of developmental thinking.

World Population and Development: Hauser, focuses on the relationship between population and economic development.

This volume is comprehensive in its identification of population-related problems. A notable omission, however, is an explicit analysis of the relationship between demographic change and conflict. However, Hauser and his contributors do state that economic development is the intermediate factor between population growth and violence.

They indicate that only if developed countries were unwilling to cooperate with the developing countries in pursuing the latters economic growth, would population pressures perhaps contribute to violence. The Global Report to the President projects world population in the year to be 5.

The report analyzes global trends and predicts that dramatic changes in demographic characteristics induced by conflict or violence can be expected to create further changes in relations among nations. It argues for greater international cooperation, coordinated by the United States, but provides few specific directives or suggestions. The report stresses the need to stabilize world population as soon as possible, in order to avert massive dislocations, and the need for population policies to accompany economic growth.

It notes the effectiveness of family-planning programmes, with particular reference to specific developing countries, and argues that the world will be racked by economic, social, and political conflict unless fur ther efforts are made to assist in reducing the unfulfilled demands of poorer states.

Among the recommendations of the Brandt Report are the following: In this respect the Brandt Report shares with the other inter national assessments a notable lack of recognition of the conditions under which rapid population growth could lead to large-scale conflict and of the conditions under which conflict, within and between countries, could result in massive popu lation dislocations. A NationalAgenda for the Eighties is an overall assessment of the United States economic and social prospects for the s.

The demographic back ground for issues likely to arise in the s is the subject of one chapter.