10 Countries On The Verge Of A Crippling Demographic Crisis

japan map

Photo: google maps

When people are having too few babies or too many, there’s only so much that government can do.

Demographics crises may be the ultimate determinant of the fate of nations and the easiest to predict. In most cases, the population shift has already occured that dooms a country to slow or sudden decline.

We picked 10 countries that stand out for extreme shifts in population and age, as well as countries facing unique situations due to political structure. For instance: even moderate shifts occuring in countries with large populations and economies, like the US, can be cataclysmic.

These 10 countries are all developed or emergent markets, which is to say they do not include minor and undeveloped countries that are already locked into demographic chaos (see Niger, home to the world’s highest birth rate).

See The 10 Countries On The Verge Of A Demographic Crisis >

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title=”Part One: Emerging Economies With Out Of Control Population Growth”
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[slide
permalink=”pakistan-167-billion-gdp-2″
title=”Pakistan: $167 Billion GDP”
content=”Population change by 2040: +38%
Median age in 2010: 21.3
Median age in 2040:
29.4
Birth rate:
65 out of 223

Pakistan is rapidly becoming the fourth most populous country in the world, but that does not make it one of the BRICs. Far more than neighbours India and China, Pakistan lacks the infrastructure for educating its surging population and the economy for employing them.

‘Time is running out to put appropriate policies in place. The absence of this may result in large-scale unemployment and immense pressure on health and education systems. In short, a socio-economic crisis may take place, making the demographic dividend more of a demographic threat,” said Durr-e-Nayab of the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.

Source GDP & Birth rate: CIA World Factbook
Source Population & Age: UN

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[slide
permalink=”egypt-188-billion-gdp-3″
title=”Egypt: $188 Billion GDP”
content=”Population change by 2040: +32%
Median age in 2010: 23.9
Median age in 2040:
32.8
Birth rate:
69 out of 223

Egypt has more than twice the GDP per capita of Pakistan, but just about the same birth rate, median age, and blazing population growth. The rising population threatens to overwhelm the emerging economy, causing a rise in unemployment, pollution, disease, and unrest. Already there are not enough jobs for the half-million Egyptians that join the job market each year, according to the AFP.

Extreme population density is another problem.

‘Egypt, outside the desert, has the highest population density in the world, with 2,000 inhabitants in every square kilometre, twice that of Bangladesh,’ said population specialist Philippe Fargues of the American University in Cairo.

Source GDP & Birth rate: CIA World Factbook
Source Population & Age: UN

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[slide
permalink=”saudi-arabia-380-billion-gdp-4″
title=”Saudi Arabia: $380 Billion GDP”
content=”Population change by 2040: +54%
Median age in 2010: 24.6
Median age in 2040: 33.8
Birth rate: 51 out of 223

The quintessential job for a Saudi man used to be an executive position in state-sponsored company, with a big pay check and very little work. But there are only so many jobs the Sultan can give away. With the population growing at a third-world rate, the government is struggling to diversify the economy away from petroleum, according to the CIA World Factbook.

‘In a country with a young demographic profile–those below 30 make up over 60 per cent of the population–the need for change has not been as strong for quite some time, and yet the current situation forebodes a rare combination of both challenges from a long time past and a unique opportunity to confront them,’ said Hassan Hakimian, an economist at the Cass Business School.

Source GDP & Birth rate: CIA World Factbook
Source Population & Age: UN

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permalink=”part-two-advanced-economies-that-will-shrivel-and-die-5″
title=”Part Two: Advanced Economies That Will Shrivel And Die”
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[slide
permalink=”ukraine-116-billion-gdp-6″
title=”Ukraine: $116 Billion GDP”
content=”Population change by 2040: -21%
Median age in 2010: 39.5
Median age in 2040: 46.6
Birth rate: 202 out of 223

Low birth rate and high emigration rates are the story throughout eastern Europe. Ukraine stood out for its rate of population decline, which is the highest of all developing countries, according to the CIA World Factbook. Former President Viktor Yushchenko saw an even more dire picture when he warned Ukraine could lose half of its population by 2050, according to Ukraine news site ForUm.

Source GDP & Birth rate: CIA World Factbook
Source Population & Age: UN

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[slide
permalink=”south-korea-800-billion-gdp-7″
title=”South Korea: $800 Billion GDP”
content=”Population change by 2040: -2.5%
Median age in 2010: 37.9
Median age in 2040: 51.0
Birth rate: 212 out of 223

South Korea is swiftly catching up to Japan in terms of old populations with dismal birth rates. As such it may be heading toward its own lost decades: stagnation, labour deficits, and burdensome pensions and health care. Meanwhile, North Korea is turning out babies at a quick rate, which has scary implications for the island balance of power.

‘The challenge facing Korea is especially daunting, and quite simply no other society at a similar stage of development faces an age wave that is as massive as Korea’s, or as fast-approaching,’ said Keisuke Nakashima, a researcher at the centre for Strategic and International Studies.

Source GDP & Birth rate: CIA World Factbook
Source Population & Age: UN

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[slide
permalink=”russia-1255-billion-gdp-8″
title=”Russia: $1,255 Billion GDP”
content=”Population change by 2040: -13%
Median age in 2010: 38.1
Median age in 2040: 45.5
Birth rate: 178 out of 223

Although Russia fared well in the past decade — named alongside Brazil, India, and China as Goldman Sach’s favourite developing economies — it is now doomed to a long and inevitable decline. Low birth rates are already depleting the population. The labour force can only be preserved with a massive influx of immigrants, but immigrants are hardly breaking down the door.

ageing populations will produce a heavy pension burdens, as in other developing countries. Russia may be thankful, however, for a high death rate that keeps pensions in check. The world’s twelfth highest death rate has much to do with alcoholism and cigarettes, said the NYT.

Source GDP & Birth rate: CIA World Factbook
Source Population & Age: UN

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[slide
permalink=”germany-3235-billion-gdp-9″
title=”Germany: $3,235 Billion GDP”
content=”Population change by 2040: -10%
Median age in 2010: 44.3
Median age in 2040: 51.2
Birth rate: 220 out of 223

Deaths have outnumbered births in Germany since 1972, according to Steffen Krohnert at Berlin’s Institute for Population and Development. With this demographic debt, Germans are doomed to watch their industrial power fade, and fade faster each year. Germany lost its place as the world’s top exporter last year to China.

In the past decade, Germans have attempted to stave off decay by extending maternity leave to encourage reproduction. They have even considered revising immigration laws in order to recruit a supply of foreign laborers, according to the AP.

Source GDP & Birth rate: CIA World Factbook
Source Population & Age: UN

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[slide
permalink=”china-4758-billion-gdp-10″
title=”China: $4,758 Billion GDP”
content=”Population change by 2040: +7.5%
Median age in 2010:
34.2
Median age in 2040:
44.1
Birth rate: 151 out of 223

What does it mean for a billion-plus population to become 10 years older? An incredible surge in senior citizens that will break the back of China’s state pension system, according to Harvard demographer Nicholas Eberstadt. A big part of China’s elderly care — their children — are already suffering from policies that limited families to one child.

On the other end of the age spectrum, China’s labour force is growing faster than available jobs. Unemployment won’t be a serious problem if China keeps booming, but it will be a huge problem if the China bubble pops.

Source GDP & Birth rate: CIA World Factbook
Source Population & Age: UN

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[slide
permalink=”japan-5049-billion-gdp-11″
title=”Japan: $5,049 Billion GDP”
content=”Population change by 2040: -15%
Median age in 2010:
44.7
Median age in 2040:
54.7
Birth rate:
222 out of 223

Hatoyama and other optimists talk about bringing Japan out of its two decade slump. Unfortunately, ongoing demographic shifts could mean the situation is going to get much worse. Japan has just about the oldest population with the world’s lowest birth rate, and the median age is going to rise another 10 years by 2040.

In fact, floundering Japan may be the next in line for a rating downgrades from Standard & Poor’s.

Source GDP & Birth rate: CIA World Factbook
Source Population & Age: UN

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[slide
permalink=”part-three-dont-forget-the-usa-12″
title=”Part Three: Don’t Forget The USA”
content=””
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[slide
permalink=”usa-14270-billion-gdp-13″
title=”USA: $14,270 Billion GDP”
content=”Population change by 2040: +22%
Median age in 2010: 36.6
Median age in 2040: 40.8
Birth rate: 154 out of 223

Although the demographic shift is not as severe as some, the effects will be magnified in America’s unparalleled economy. Caring for the elderly will cost more than it does in South Korea because our population is over six times larger. At the same time, it will cost more than in China because we have a higher degree of social welfare legislation, like Social Security and Medicare.

As the timing works out, the latest recession may be the moment demographics catch up to America. The retirement of baby boomers will redefine our basic economic structure. Industries like manufacturing are predicted to decline through the decade, while jobs in medicine and senior care are going to boom.

Source GDP & Birth rate: CIA World Factbook
Source Population & Age: UN

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[slide
permalink=”now-heres-the-big-picture-14″
title=”Now here’s the big picture…”
content=”STRATFOR’S TOP PREDICTIONS FOR THE NEXT DECADE: China Collapse, Global labour Shortages, New American Dominance
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