For decades, a basic tenet of the international population-control lobby has been that declining fertility rates will generate a more stable international order. But according to an impressive panel of scholars who have contributed to a new book, this scenario of “geriatric peace” is untenably optimistic.
Population Decline and the Remaking of Great Power Politics is a collection of nine research essays, published by Potomac Books and edited by C-FAM senior vice president Susan Yoshihara and C-FAM senior fellow Douglas Sylva. In the book’s foreword, demographer and political economist Nicholas Eberstadt applauds its contributors for tackling the “profound and as-yet unanswered questions” associated with population decline and international politics.
The prevailing assumption that relatively old countries are predisposed automatically to peace is not historically defensible, as Population Decline and the Remaking of Great Power Politics points out. In the last century relatively aged regimes like Nazi Germany and Serbia in the 1990s were notable for their aggression against younger neighbors, and in classical history democratic Athens reacted to the demographic shock of a devastating plague by initiating a series of costly and ill-judged military actions.