What graying world can teach America
January 30th, 2014
11:48 AM ET

What graying world can teach America

By Bruce Stokes, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Bruce Stokes is director of global economic attitudes at the Pew Research Center. The views expressed are his own.

The inexorable aging of the U.S. population has been one of Washington’s rationales for raising the retirement age, reforming health care and cutting the government deficit and debt. Continuing policy debates driven by fears of the economic consequences of a graying society are almost inevitable.

But the fiscal and societal burdens of an aging America are far from unique. Indeed, when it comes to getting older, Europe and increasingly much of Asia face a far more challenging future in which there is a mismatch between demographics and slowing economic growth. Compounding the problem in some nations is public opinion, with expectations of government often out of synch with projected economic growth and the ability of states to foot the bill for their aging populations.

In 2010, 13 percent of the U.S. population was age 65 or older. By 2050, that proportion is expected to grow to 21.4 percent, according to estimates by the United Nations. But notable as those numbers are, they are even more dramatic in Europe – Spain’s retirement age population is expected to grow by about 17 points, to 34.5 percent, while Italy’s elderly population may increase by 13 points to 33 percent. Germany’s 65 and older population, meanwhile, is likely to expand by 12 points, to almost 33 percent.


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Topics: Asia • Demographics • United States
Could Britain see a baby boom?
July 31st, 2013
10:36 AM ET

Could Britain see a baby boom?

By Stijn Hoorens, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Stijn Hoorens is associate director and head of the Brussels office of RAND Europe. The views expressed are the writer’s own.

Prince George, the first child of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, arrived last week, an event watched with king-sized anticipation across the globe. The royal birth comes at a time when fertility in Britain is increasing after decades of decline. Today, the U.K.’s total fertility rate, a proxy for the average number of children per women in a given year, is the third highest in Europe behind only France and Ireland. Is Britain on the cusp of a baby boom?

Fertility rates across Europe declined year-on-year between the post-war baby boom and the end of the 1990s. Europe’s total fertility rates dropped in most countries below the threshold needed to maintain a stable population, the so-called “replacement level” of 2.1 children per woman. But the dawn of the new century saw the declines cease and birth rates actually began to trend upwards in many countries, including the U.K.

And, while fertility rates in some European countries have resumed their downward trajectory in the last couple of years, Britain stands out as an exception, a place where a baby boom may well be taking shape.


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Topics: Demographics • Europe • United Kingdom
No country for 15 million 'legal ghosts'
In Myanmar, the Rohingya people are denied citizenship because they don't belong to the official “national races."
August 20th, 2012
01:07 PM ET

No country for 15 million 'legal ghosts'

By Stewart M. Patrick and Isabella Bennett, CFR

Stewart M. Patrick is director of the International Institutions and Global Governance Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. Isabella Bennett is program coordinator. This entry of The Internationalist originally appeared here. The views expressed are solely those of Stewart M. Patrick and Isabella Bennett.

Guor Marial, a cross-country All-American athlete at Iowa State, ran two marathons in Olympic qualifying times. But with no passport and no country — and no coach nor a sponsor — he watched the Summer Games’ opening ceremony from Flagstaff, Arizona.

After fleeing from a Sudanese refugee camp at the age of 8, Marial had eventually escaped to Egypt and then the United States, where he lives as a permanent U.S. resident but without citizenship.

The day before the competition began, the International Olympic Committee finally granted Marial permission to run as an independent athlete. Marial, who works at night and trains by day, finished 47th in London. No medal, but a rare triumph for the world’s stateless.

As many as 15 million people worldwide cannot claim a state as their own, because they lack legal citizenship or formal documentation of their status. They are, in effect, “legal ghosts,” lacking even the “right to have rights.” And unlike Marial, many are not even considered refugees — placing them in a precarious legal limbo. They may be deprived of education, employment, housing, public health and welfare benefits, the right to vote, and access to legal justice.


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Topics: Demographics • Global • Human Rights • Immigration • Inequality
Predicting the 2040 Olympics medal table
August 10th, 2012
10:07 AM ET

Predicting the 2040 Olympics medal table

By Fareed Zakaria

I’ve been in London this week, and I couldn’t help but catch the Olympics bug. The Games are the ultimate meritocracy – or so it seems. But why do some countries win lots of medals? Do they have more talented people than others? We’ve spent some time looking at the data.

A few trends are clear.

Countries with large populations tend to do well. Logic suggests that the more people you have, the more likely you are to have a few excellent athletes. In the 2008 Beijing Games, China was the runaway leader with 51 gold medals. The United States came second, but it won the most medals overall with 110. The two countries are of course among the three most populous in the world.


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Topics: Brazil • China • Demographics • Japan • Sports • United States • What in the World?
Young adults choose "cool cities" during recession
Among metropolitan areas with populations exceeding one million. Data pertain to successive 3-year periods: 2005 through 2007 and 2008 through 2010. Source: William H. Frey analysis of 2005-7 and 2008-10 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey data. (Courtesy: Brookings)
November 4th, 2011
10:10 PM ET

Young adults choose "cool cities" during recession

Editor's Note: William H. Frey is a senior fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. He specializes in national security and defense policy and is senior author of the IraqAfghanistan, and Pakistan Index projects. The views expressed in this article are solely those of William H. Frey.

By William H. Frey, Brookings Institution

The Occupy Wall Street crowd is seemingly ubiquitous across much of America. But it is not surprising that these groups, mostly made up of young adults, are congregating in cities known to be friendly to twenty- and  thirtysomethings as confirmed by new Census data on migration.

Previously data showed that rates of migration declined as the recession began and places that grew the most during the fat part of last decade - both states and metropolitan areas - saw those gains begin to evaporate. But the American Community Survey’s new data for the years 2008 through 2010, inclusive, provides the first clear glimpse of migration gainers and losers during the Great Recession and permits a comparison with the three previous economically supercharged years. It also allows for a clean “before and after” comparison of destinations for young adults, whose preferences may differ from movers in general.

Beyond the “occupiers” concerns about lost job prospects and presumed corporate greed, recent demographic data on homeownership declines, delayed marriages, and doubled-up households show that the lives of many young people have been put on hold.  The new migration data show something else as well. To the extent they are moving at all, young adults are headed to metro areas which are known to have a certain vibe -  towns, high-tech centers, and so-called “cool cities.”


What the Chinese do when an old person falls down
An elderly woman exercises at an outdoor mini-gym, one of many physical fitness stations that are found in residential neighborhoods across Beijing, on November 22, 2010. (Getty Images)
September 8th, 2011
08:31 AM ET

What the Chinese do when an old person falls down

By Hannah Beech, TIME

China's bureaucracy has a lot to handle these days: rooting out corruption, facilitating global trade, censoring independent thoughts online that might “endanger state security.” But on Sept. 6 the Chinese Health Ministry issued a 41-page set of guidelines that was two years in the making. The topic? Technical Guidelines on Intervention When an Old Person Has Fallen Down. FULL POST

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Topics: China • Demographics • Odd
August 28th, 2011
05:25 PM ET

America reaches its demographic tipping point

Editor's Note: An internationally known demographer, Bill Frey specializes in issues involving urban populations, migration, immigration, race, aging, political demographics, and the U.S. Census. He is also a research professor in population studies at the University of Michigan.

By Bill Frey, The Brookings Institution

The latest wave of 2010 Census data, released this week, confirms what earlier surveys have strongly hinted: virtually half of recent births in the U.S. are minorities. We are becoming a more globalized nation than most Americans have experienced in their lifetimes. The great demographic change has potential long term benefits for our population growth in terms of our economic competitiveness in the international marketplace. But these changes, coming so quickly and evolving from the “bottom up” of our age structure, may exacerbate existing cultural generation gaps, as older, largely white generations may be slow to recognize the promise of this change. FULL POST

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Topics: Demographics • United States • Youth