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Josef Schmid (2000)

Population Growth and International Conflict Potential – The Shift from an Ideological Split of the World toward a Demographic Century*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 25, 3-4/2000, p. 477-494, Opladen: Verlag Leske + Budrich, ISSN: 0340-2398

Social scientists with particular interests in world affairs were for a long time, i.e. the period of the Cold War, accustomed to a rather stable world. This was made apparent by clear borders and ideological creeds which could be assigned to clear-cut territories as well. Since the end of the Cold War the world seems to have transformed itself into a situation of disorder characterized by emerging local wars and ethnic conflicts. Among the factors behind precarious movements and regional turmoil, we find, more or less hidden, the demographic one. An appropriate look on the new "World Disorder" will have a focus on three theses:

  1. Globalization provokes local forces and local cultures which, in their turn, are in search of self-assertion and survival
  2. The concept of "ethnicity" will gain importance: which, in their turn, are it will breed both a national consciousness where the ethnic group forms the majority in a nation state and an ethnic consciousness where the ethnic group is a minority and usually at odds with the nation state when requiring more rights or a higher status.
  3. Demographic transition in developing regions will be only completed in the next mid-century (or after) and cause a big shift in the population weights on the global scale.

A focus on the demographic factor reveals a twofold effect: a sharpening of existing or impending conflicts but also a growing need for peace in war-torn areas. This ongoing change of the world will be accompanied by convulsive phenomena because an increase in population will entail, inevitably, an increase in political, economical and military power as well for many countries counting today among the less developed. So the Third World will experience a fundamental change and exert an economic and migratory pressure on Europe whose political and cultural consciousness will be challenged by that on the whole.

* Original title: Bevölkerungswachstum und internationales Konfliktpotential – Vom ideologischen zum demographischen Jahrhundert (full text in German only)

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