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Karl Schwarz (2000)

Call to Demographers to Enter Population Policy*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 25, 3-4/2000, p. 431-440, Opladen: Verlag Leske + Budrich, ISSN: 0340-2398

Population policy is intended to influence the development and structure of the population. Its area of activity lies in strategies with which it attempts to affect reproductive behaviour, to improve the health situation and life expectancy of the population, as well as to steer migration within and beyond national borders. Social objectives orientated in line with the public interest are an indispensable prerequisite for this. Population policy can be understood as a scientific discipline and as a practical commitment. The former is a matter of course for population scientists. Whether they also wish to enter the arena of political debate and decision-making depends on their own preferences, and in part on whether they are offered such opportunities.

The author of this article calls for both; he is of the opinion that Germany (together with many other countries in the Old World) finds itself in a demographic situation which permits no other choice. This doubtless applies to fertility trends, which have reached a historic low, and to their impact on the size and age structure of the population. They jeopardize the maintenance of human capital and Germany as an industrial location. Additionally, the ageing of the population places unheard-of demands on inter-generational solidarity. Finally, we must ask to what degree the native population is able to integrate millions of immigrants without leading to tensions.

These are all tasks that certainly cannot be solved by demography alone. Demographers cannot however restrict their responsibility solely to providing a diagnosis of the demographic situation.

* Original title: Aufforderung an die Demographen zum Einstieg in die Bevölkerungspolitik (full text in German only)

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