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Entries in demographics (55)

8:25AM

Millennials as a new way of approaching capitalism/consumerism

Interesting USA Today story on how "Millennials are demanding capitalism with a conscience, and some of America's biggest brands are delivering."

I give a lot of speeches to middle-aged audiences (now borderline Boomers/Gen X like myself) and they express the usual concerns over the Millennials as the next to pick up the torch - so to speak.

So I talk about my oldest two and say most of the things stated in this article, so it was good to come across it and realize I wasn't unduly extrapolating from my kids:

This trend-setting, if not free-spending groupd of 95 million Americans, born from 1982 to 2004, live and breathe social media and are broadly convinced that doing the right thing isn't just vogue, but mandatory.  With nearly a third of the population driving this trend, kindness is becoming the nation's newest currency.

It always amazes me how America raises the next generation that it needs.

10:08AM

The elder entitlement conundrum: raising retirement age doesn't get you what you want

To me, this is the ideological conflict of the 21st century:  money = access to bio revolution = longer lives, so access to tech is self-licking ice-cream cone (I live longer and therefore vote more and - BTW - have more money to spend on politics, which increases my access to tech, which makes me live longer, which ...).

Check it out from WAPO:

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — This prosperous community is the picture of the good and ever longer life — just what policymakers have in mind when they say that raising the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare is a fair way to rein in the nation’s troublesome debt.

The county’s plentiful and well-tended golf courses teem with youthful-looking retirees. The same is true on the county’s 41 miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches, abundant tennis courts and extensive network of biking and hiking trails.

The healthy lifestyles pay off. Women here can expect to live to be nearly 83, four years longer than they did just two decades earlier, according to research at the University of Washington. Male life expectancy is more than 78 years, six years longer than two decades ago.

But in neighboring Putnam County, life is neither as idyllic nor as long.

Incomes and housing values are about half what they are in St. Johns. And life expectancy in Putnam has barely budged since 1989, rising less than a year for women to just over 78. Meanwhile, it has crept up by a year and a half for men, who can expect to live to be just over 71, seven years less than the men living a few miles away in St. Johns.

The widening gap in life expectancy between these two adjacent Florida counties reflects perhaps the starkest outcome of the nation’s growing economic inequality: Even as the nation’s life expectancy has marched steadily upward, reaching 78.5 years in 2009, a growing body of research shows that those gains are going mostly to those at the upper end of the income ladder.

The tightening economic connection to longevity has profound implications for the simmering debate about trimming the nation’s entitlement programs. Citing rising life expectancy, influential voices including the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission, the Business Roundtable and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have argued that it makes sense to raise the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare.

But raising the eligibility ages — currently 65 for Medicare and moving toward 67 for full Social Security benefits — would mean fewer benefits for lower-income workers, who typically die younger than those who make more.

“People who are shorter-lived tend to make less, which means that if you raise the retirement age, low-income populations would be subsidizing the lives of higher-income people,” said Maya Rockeymoore, president and chief executive of Global Policy Solutions, a public policy consultancy. “Whenever I hear a policymaker say people are living longer as a justification for raising the retirement age, I immediately think they don’t understand the research or, worse, they are willfully ignoring what the data say.”

So counter-intuitive:  raising the age = even more disproportional burden on less weathy.

The segregation is already well underway between the long- and short-lived.

The two counties in FLA:

Now globally:

It won't be the "clash of civilizations" in the 21st century, but the clash of generations.

9:18AM

China: The race up the production/development/political ladder is on!

Wow, that took a long time!  

Recall my recent post on China's college graduates (8m strong per year) and their expectations.

Right on cue, the NYT runs another front-pager that follows the logic up nicely:  "With diplomas, Chinese reject jobs in factory."

This is the development conundrum in a nutshell for the single-party state:  you give the people what they want (factory jobs that generate income so people moving off the land can make it in the city and send their kids to college) and then they just want more - in the form of those college kids.  And the more they want and you provide and they accomplish and achieve, the more they're running their own complex lives and get tired of hearing how only the one party and the one way are acceptable.

Best example of this was South Korea in the 1990s - four decades of essentially single-party rule and then things got a bit tumultuous.  But now look at South Korea - a second-tier great power on the move and becoming a soft-power exporter (Psy's hilarious and catchy "Gangnam Style" is just the hardest door-knocker of the burgeoning flow; personally I love the horror movies best) in addition to being a powerhouse product exporter. In many ways, China wants to replicate South Korea's path.  It's just the Party that assumes it can (or should) be done in a single-party format.

But yes, all the same tipping points eventually get reached. The size differential isn't key; it's a matter of generational turnover, and this article is a big pointer in this regard:  college grads who turn down their noses on factory jobs.

There's no turning back at this point:  China's future evolutions are already a fait accompli.  The only thing left for the West is to NOT screw it up, which typically occurs whenever we freak out over perceived "gaps" or "being passed by" or other such declinist nonsense.

The "victory," if you need such things, has already been won.  And we have Deng Xiaoping to thank for that.

China must live in the real world of its own making.  It cannot exist in the imaginary balance-of-power environments posited by the realists - on either side of the Pacific.    That real world of its own making forces very hard compromises.

And they are just beginning across China.

8:15AM

China's future with a only-child society

NYT story on Science article describing Australian research on the only-child phenomenon inside China.  This wasn't interview based, but actual work with kids, testing their trust behavior (a simple drill involving money).

The result:

The researchers concluded that the "one-child-policy" players were less trusting, less trustworthy, less competitive and more risk-averse than the older participants.

And on the basis of a personality test, they were also "less conscientious, more neurotic and more pessimistic ...

What is interesting:  China is already all those things in terms of top leadership stuck in a single-party mode. What this says is, there is quite possibly no hope on the horizon in terms of top-down reform/democratization dynamics.  Yes, the leadership will talk such lines (reforms) and hint at such possibilities (democracy), but they won't move down this path without pushing from below - and hoping generational changes will trigger top-down dynamics is probably far too optimistic.

A bit more depressingly, it also says there may only be a generational window of people, roughly corresponding to the 6th generation of leadership (on slate to rule 2022-2032), who are able to trigger the bottom-up dynamics necessary for change (i.e., serious demand for it from below that pushes the way-too-cautious elite to finally do something real and not just experiment and talk and promise).  To me, that says the 2020s may be it - as in, get the system moving in the right direction or China loses its nerve - both above and below - to make the difficult steps happen for the post-Mao system's full maturation (reforms, marketization, globalizing, middle-class and then democracy).

A worrisome observation, but not an insurmountable one.  The Chinese system is already rife with intense populist anger and it's growing by leaps and bounds.  We can hope Xi Jinping and Co. catch a clue, because if they don't, China - in terms of generational leadership - might have only one more swing at the plate to get it done before turning - yet again - back in on itself.

 

10:03AM

China's rising pool of college grads - and expectations

NYT story on the 8m college grads that China cranks each year at the cost of about $250B a year.

The comparison that comes to mind is the US post-WWII and the remaking of society and politics that ensued (think of all that change across the 1960s and 1970s).

Yet another reason why I stick with my prediction that China is democratized by 2030.  This article speaks more of economic strengths than challenges, but the real danger (which appears only when you get to the jump page) are the social expectations and - if they are met - the resulting political confidence that will be hard to manage on a mass basis.

When people make the effort and sacrifice for that degree, the same-old, same-old factory job won't do.  This forces China into a race up the production ladder alright, and that fits the nation's desire to base more future growth on domestic consumption.  But that desire forces a progressive agenda to fix their healthcare and pension problems, which are not all that different from the US in their ability to mess up economic growth.  In China's case, the two issues combine to depress consumption by forcing individuals to save mightily against fate's whims. So if the government wants all that domestic consumption-led growth to make all those white-collar jobs happen so all those college grads can be happy (and not too disruptive politically), then major government efforts along the "great society" trajectory will be forced by all these dynamics.

Even if China pulls all that off, and then suffers the natural slow-down in growth that occurs when you start better covering the needs of the left fortunate (Freudian slip, as I meant less unfortunate) in society (a costly proposition), then you move into the next tier of problems:  all those college grads now making it and living complex lives will bristle at being spoken down to regarding political debates and government transparency.  We saw this big time in South Korea roughly a generation ago.  China is now 10-15 years (at best) from confronting that fabulous problem.

All of this is to say that, if you imagine that China somehow becomes truly powerful down the road but will still look like today's single-party state, you'd be wrong by every experience of history that we know.  Once you embrace the markets and all the other great aspects of modern society, the politics must change in reponse - eventually.  Yes, the Chinese are adept at postponing that reality.  

But it will not be postponed forever.

A truly strategic thinker worries about handling a democratizing China down the road more than some single-party state.  A single-party state is inherently cautious; it cannot suffer a genuine overseas debacle because there is no throw-the-bums-out dynamic to stabilize the system.  But a democratizing China looks more like the rising US of the late 19th century.  I personally don't foresee that being an unmanageable problem, given all the domestic issues that China will still be finessing throughout that transition, but it will definitely be a new and different China "challenge."

12:02AM

Chart of the day: globalization vastly improves death

NYT story.  Simply fascinating.

There's no arguing this:  over the last 20 years, or the apogee of globalization's rapid expansion, more babies live into childhood, more children live into adulthood, and adults live longer.

So much for globalization impoverishing everyone and making their lives more miserable.

Check it out:  communicable yields to lifestyle diseases.

The tough work for any global progressive effort is already done.  Now it's all about living that much longer - primarily - because we'll eat that much healthier.  Obesity feeds all the major lifestyle diseases.

Overall, striking evidence that globalization has improved lives the world over:

The shift reflects improvements in sanitation, medical services and access to food throughout the developing world, as well as the success of broad public health efforts like vaccine programs. The results are striking:infant mortality declined by more than half from 1990 to 2010, and malnutrition, the No. 1 risk factor for death and years of life lost in 1990, has fallen to No. 8.

At the same time, chronic diseases like cancer now account for about two out of every three deaths worldwide, up from just over half in 1990. Eight million people died of cancer in 2010, 38 percent more than in 1990. Diabetes claimed 1.3 million lives in 2010, double the number in 1990.

“The growth of these rich-country diseases, like heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes, is in a strange way good news,” said Ezekiel Emanuel, chairman of the department of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania. “It shows that many parts of the globe have largely overcome infectious and communicable diseases as a pervasive threat, and that people on average are living longer.”

The truth is good.

 

11:07AM

Great summarizing FT article on "global food security" risk

Notice the equatorially-centric band? Remind you of another map?

Starts by calling farmers "the canaries in the mine when it comes to climate change."  Brilliant.

What affects farmers affects the global food supply and causes the price rises that hit middle class wallets and increases the risk of hunger for the world's poor.

CC isn't the "only culprit" when it comes to good security.

The primary drivers, the article notes, are population growth and the stunning growth of the global middle class, which, as we know, likes to eat and eat well.

Next is the loss of land to food crops due to urbanization and the diversion of crops to fuels (dumbest idea in human history).

But here's the quote that caught my eye:

If these were the only pressures on the global food supply, feeding the world sustainably could still be achievable, says Jerry Nelson, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).  "If you didn't have climate change, you could tell a story about how it will be challenging and how we need to invest more in productivity, reduce waste and manage international trade," he says.  "But this would be something we could accomplish.

"When you throw climate change into the mix, that makes everything a lot more difficult."

Or better said - with regard to risk - more uncertain.

Great little piece in "FT Special Report: Managing Climate Change."

12:03AM

THE big global long-term financial threat: Asia's "flowering" welfare states

Excellent Economist piece.

Idea I've spoken about before:  Asia has been the savings center of the global economy for a while.  The West (outside the oddly still-young US) is slouching toward retirement, when traditionally a society needs capital because it's burning up its own.  Meanwhile, the South is like a young couple that needs start-up capital.  

Point is, we expect Asia to fund both - plus take care of its own continuing rise.

The good news: while China's demographic dividend shrinks from here on out, SE Asia's will be around for decades, as will that of the emerging demo-div King Kong - India.

But what happens if Asia adopts the West's cradle-to-grave welfare state model?  Or what the Economist dubs "tigers turning marsupial"?

The Economist's point:  forget Asian values.  When societies reach a certain level of wealth, people expect the same things the world over.

It seems that every country that can afford to build a welfare state will come under mounting pressure to do so. And much of Asia has hit the relevant level of prosperity (see chart 1). Indonesia is now almost as developed as America was in 1935 when it passed the landmark Social Security Act, according to figures compiled by the late Angus Maddison, an economic historian. China is already richer than Britain was in 1948, when it inaugurated the National Health Service (NHS) which, to judge by political ructions—and Olympic opening ceremonies—has become crucial to its sense of national identity.

We are expecting a lot from Asia between now and 2050 . . .. 

6:17AM

Ancient Chinese secret: Modernity shapes society just like any country in West

NYT story (As China Ages, Beijing Turns to Morality Tales to Spur Filial Devotion) shows that China not really all that different from West:  urbanization, industrialization, modernity all conspire to make "sandwich" generations (caring for kids and parents at same time) less caring about their elderly parents.

Beijing tries to instruct them with old morality tales.  It ain't working.

Great piece.

I sneak off to Denver for another speech.  This time it's a commodities (gold) focused convention.

10:39AM

China's worker-to-retiree ratio will be as bad as West's come 2050

Fascinating chart.  When you run the numbers globally, the worker-to-retiree ratio was 12 to 1 in 1950 and 9 to 1 in 2000.  But when you jump ahead to 2050, it's down globally to 5 to 1.

But then you note the distinctions:

  • Old Core West is 2 to 1
  • New Core East and South is 5 to 1
  • Gap is still 10 to 1.

Now, you look at that and think China's doing okay, but as my research into the mean age by nation shows, China moves from the mid-age cohort (where it exists with US now at about 36 years old) to the old-age cohort (Russia, Europe, Japan) by 2050, when China's mean age will be 47-48 years old and the US will still be just under 40 years old (thanks to higher birth rate and immigration).

Well, this chart confirms how unique China is among the New Core "risers" just as the US is unique among the Old Core great powers.

Among the Old Core powers, the US simply doesn't age like the rest:  by 2050, the US mean age is still a hair below 40 while the rest are all deep into the 40s.

And among the New Core powers, China will suffer a PSR (potential support ratio) come 2050 that's more in line with the Old Core's 2-to-1 PSR instead of the New Core's 5-to-1.

Further proof that China gets old before truly rich, or perhaps better said, by the time it gets rich, it'll be as old as the old West (with only Japan serving as demographic lead goose, as it does today).

And - again - truth be told, China should track Japan as its future, far more than the US should ever feel it should.

12:06PM

Why the special relationship (US-Israel) isn't going anywhere

Fascinating factoid:  80 percent of the world's Jews live in US and Israel (roughly an equal split in numbers).

Then look at the lower right-hand bar charts and realize - Holocaust or no - that the 20th century was the best century the Jews ever had, because of the location of, and population concentration within, the two great safe places in the global system: the Jewish homeland of Israel and the next best thing called America.  The Economist (where the chart is drawn from) notes that the Jewish faith is now stronger and more "alive" than it's been for a very long time.  Naturally, Judaism experiences the same crises of all religious identities in this modernizing world (absolutely nothing "special" about the Jews in that regard, even as they consider themselves "chosen" like every other faith on the planet - the Lake Woebegon effect that all religions suffer ("I get it!  You don't!")), but there's no question it's a powerful and well-placed faith in a world experiencing religious awakening (everywhere but Europe's non-Muslims).

Expats and coreligionists driving US foreign policy constitutes a long and storied tradition in America.  It - for example - essentially defines our special relationships with the Brits and Europe in general.  Is it weird or "unfair" with regard to Israel?  Hardly.  People want to see conspiracies and what not.  But it's the simple - and beautiful -business of money talking.

America is a supremely fair place when it comes to minorities - save African Americans for obvious historical reasons.  But, in general, if you're an immigrant group or otherwise minority, you can make yourself heard and somewhat obeyed in our political system simply by organizing yourself and applying your collective wealth to the system of influence that is our political system.  Many people find this process slimy, but I love that the only color that matters in this country is green, because that's eminently more fair than skin tone. (And yes, the fact that our first African-American president is a genius at raising money in small amounts is highly indicative of this process - thank God!).

Simply put, NOBODY in this country gets what they want until they organize and start donating money (or spending in the market corollary) - i.e., start making their market heft known.  We've seen it with ethnic group after ethnic group over the decades, and we're watching now with Hispanics and Asians - and Indians in particular (who are becoming amazingly adept at it at a rather fast pace).  We likewise watch it now with the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender).

Again, cry all you want, but I like a process where money beats prejudice.  If you want to deny the party in question, then you mount a bigger effort. But, fortunately, people operating on the basis of love for something win out - time and again throughout history - over people operating on the basis of hatred (my personal fave being the early Christians v. Roman empire).  This is why I don't argue over things like gay marriage or America's continued support to Israel:  the connectors always win out over the disconnectors.  May take some time, but it always happens.  

You just can't bet against people wanting to connect. 

Strategy-wise, you just doom yourself to failure.

Pulling back the lens, this is why I don't - in the end - worry about globalization's future.  The fear-meisters will have their days (and revel in them), but history is stunningly clear on the subject - once America rose up and started running the show.

There is a reason why this is the greatest country in the world.  It's not that we're the best at doing this (personally, I would choose Canada or the Netherlands or Sweden or Norway - all very Wisconsin-ish, so it wouldn't be a big change for me), it's that we're right up there with the best AND we have the capacity and will to spread our system across the planet.  Notice how world history improves incredibly over the past several decades?  It's no accident. It's America doing on a global scale what minorities do on a national scale within our country.

Again, money talks . . . and wins over prejudice and tradition and intolerance and hatred and violence and . . ..

10:04AM

The only solution to our immigration "crisis" that matters

In the 1950s, there was a scare (mostly in NYC) about the seemingly endless influx of Puerto Ricans (you remember "West Side Story" and Leonard Bernstein's attempt to dance the problem away?), but the stream thinned out dramatically when the local GDP per capita reached somewhere in the region of 40% of the US's number.  When it got to that point, all things being equal, PRs preferred staying in PR.

This dynamic is well know and has been pointed out many times before in print.

Point of these charts from WAPO story about how returning migrant workers are bolstering Mexico's middle class is that we are reaching that point on Mexico, where - commensurately and with no surprise - the birth rate falls dramatically.

No, it doesn't end the flow of immigrants from LATAM writ large, but the point is made:  as long as a huge opportunity disaparity exists, they will come.  If you want a more manageable flow, you need to whittle down that delta along the lines I just described.

From the story:

 For a generation, the men of this town have headed north to the land of the mighty dollar, breaking U.S. immigration laws to dig swimming pools in Memphis and grind meat in Chicago.

In the United States, they were illegal aliens. Back home, they are new entrepreneurs using the billions of dollars earned “on the other side” to create a Mexican middle class.

The migrants “did something bad to do something good,” said Mexican economist Luis de la Calle.

Where remittances from El Norte were once mostly used to help hungry families back home simply survive, surveys now reveal that the longer a migrant stays up north, the more likely the cash transfers will be used to start new businesses or to pay for homes, farm equipment and school tuitions.

From Santa Maria del Refugio, a once rural, now almost suburban, community of 2,500 in central Mexico’s Guanajuato state, young men have gone to the United States seeking the social mobility they could not find at home.

Their money, and many of the workers themselves, have since returned, as the U.S. economy slowed in the global recession. For the first time in 40 years, net migration is effectively zero. About the same number of Mexicans left the United States last year as arrived. Migration experts expect the northward flow to pick up again as the U.S. economy improves. It is also possible that as Mexico provides more opportunity for upward mobility, some potential migrants will stay home.

In Santa Maria, dollars scrimped and saved in the United States have transformed a poor pueblo into a town of curbed sidewalks, Internet cafes and rows of two-story homes rising on a hillside where scrawny cattle once grazed.

“Look at this place — it’s practically a city now,” said Roberto Mandujano, 50, who moved back to his home town and opened a hardware store five years ago. “There was nothing here when I left.”

Mandujano is a member of a new demographic in Mexico, the anxious, tenacious, growing middle class who own homes and cars and take vacations. They see the United States more as a model than an exploiter.

Another argument for the US focusing more on amping up growth across LATAM: If we want to grow long-term above what history says we should be restricted to as a mature economy, then the best way to achieve that is for countries in our neighborhood to be experiencing rapid growth. [NOTE: this is ultimately why China will need to cool it on seabed territoriality disputes, but no, this logic does not rule out Beijing's stupid behavior in the meantime - as humans have an unlimited potential for letting idiocy trump logic.]

The resurrection of cheap energy in the US is the lure we should use in such an integration effort, and yes, we should most definitely be thinking about adding more stars to our flag.

You either get busy growing or you get busy shrinking in this globalized world.

11:45AM

The generational shift emerging in Chinese society

Nifty FT piece on the emerging post-Tiananmen generation - or anyone too young to remember that. Here they're talking only up to 24 years old, but in truth, you could easily go as high as 30-32, because people don't come of age on political matters til around 13 at the earliest.

As it is (rough eye-balling here), you think the under-25 crowd in China is close to 1/3rd of the population.

Piece argues that recent enviro demonstration "exposed a new vein of activism" among this crowd.

You know the old bit (repeated by me) where Chinese activists said, "Before Tiananmen, we thought freedom was 90% political and 10% economic.  After Tiananmen, we decided that freedom was 90% economic and 10% political."

When I first heard that bit, I loved it immediately as a basic expression of the lesson that virtually all revolutionary generations learn throughout history:  it's easier to revolutionize the environment through technology and commerce than through politics (which, in Marxian fashion, reflect those deep underlying realities).  So what I'm saying here is that most revolutionary generations learn that it's smarter to inexorably reshape the base than attempt to smash - one afternoon - the superstructure.

Why environmentalism is such a signpost of change: it's the political issue that translates so clearly to economic progress, because it defines the point where people look up from their economic successes and start asking the tradeoff questions. Yes, labor wages tend to precede as an issue, but that's such an intra-business issue (especially in a place like China where you're talking foreign owners). Environmentalism, in contrast, is undeniably local - even intimate (your bodies and what you put in them).

Overall, a great piece worth reading.  The "post-90" generation is starting to graduate from college and displaying a keen interest in politics.  With a tougher economy awaiting them, the instinct to seek better answers will be strong - along with the communication capacity for self-organization (see the unsurprising youth skew on "netizens").

No, I don't see some fast wave a'coming.  I see about a two-decade struggle where the government and Party consistently yield ground because it's the best choice for continued growth accompanied by political stability.

12:43PM

The political/generational impact of the Great Recession

Check out this bit from today's NYT:

In the four years since President Obama swept into office in large part with the support of a vast army of young people, a new corps of men and women have come of voting age with views shaped largely by the recession. And unlike their counterparts in the millennial generation who showed high levels of enthusiasm for Mr. Obama at this point in 2008, the nation’s first-time voters are less enthusiastic about him, are significantly more likely to identify as conservative and cite a growing lack of faith in government in general, according to interviews, experts and recent polls.

Polls show that Americans under 30 are still inclined to support Mr. Obama by a wide margin. But the president may face a particular challenge among voters ages 18 to 24. In that group, his lead over Mitt Romney — 12 points — is about half of what it is among 25- to 29-year-olds, according to an online survey this spring by the Harvard Institute of Politics.  And among whites in the younger group, Mr. Obama’s lead vanishes altogether.

Among all 18- to 29-year-olds, the poll found a high level of undecided voters; 30 percent indicated that they had not yet made up their mind. And turnout among this group is expected to be significantly lower than for older voters.

“The concern for Obama, and the opportunity for Romney, is in the 18- to 24-year-olds who don’t have the historical or direct connection to the campaign or the movement of four years ago,” said John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Harvard Institute of Politics. “We’re also seeing that these younger members of this generation are beginning to show some more conservative traits. It doesn’t mean they are Republican. It means Republicans have an opportunity.”

There is the strong evidence that a minority-white/majority non-white America favors the Dems long term, but history also says that an extended "tough time" favors the GOP, especially when you remember that the average voters behaves - over the course of his or her life - much like a car-buyer, meaning your first "purchase" typically creates a brand loyalty that is highly consistent over your life (meaning, it has an imprinting function that is profound).  Simple example:  If the first car you buy is a Ford, you will  - on average - buy more Fords over the rest of your life than any other car - hands down.  Same is true in voting for president.

Point being, while the demographic shift will still favor Dems (as currently defined) against Republicans (as currently configured), this long recession will have its own profound imprinting impact as well.  I see it in kids through the prism of my 20-year-old daughter (now in college).  They face a hostile labor market not unlike the one my generation faced in the early 1980s.  Between that point and 2008, college-age cohorts faced a fantastically (in historical terms) consistent positive labor environment. But my impression is that those days are gone - probably for good given the competitive landscape now created by a maturing globalization.

So, again, you have your demographic trends and you have your economic realities trend.  Both are profound influencers. I'm just saying nothing is carved in stone in terms of long-run trends, especially as I expect both parties to be significantly reshaped by these dueling trends over the next decade or so.

Still, I see little in any of these reports that convinces me Obama will fall in the Fall.

11:37AM

Asians become America's top incoming immigrant cohort

From WSJ story noting that fastest-growing pop groups "supplies US with skilled workers."

And before you start griping about too many Asian immigrants:

Half of Asians have a college degree, compared with 30% for all Americans, and their median annual household income is $66,000, versus $49,000 for Americans as a whole.

Asians are more likely than the overall U.S. population to be married, or to live in a multigenerational household, and their children are more likely to be raised in a two-parent home, the report says.

"Asians exceed Americans on educational credentials and socioeconomic markers of success despite being predominantly first-generation immigrants," Mr. Taylor said. He added this sets Asians, three quarters of whom are foreign-born, apart from previous waves of immigrants.

So plenty to like.

The key reason why China ages 3x faster than America over the next four decades (PRC's median age rises from 36 to the late 40s by 2050 while America goes from 36 to just under 40) is that America takes in immigrants - Asians and Latinos.

Our immigrant nation status remains our greatest long-term strength.  China will belong to the old-crew powers come 2050.  America will be sitting with the young-crew great powers (India, Brazil, Turkey, South Africa, Indonesia, etc.).

10:59AM

Wikistrat post @ CNN-GPS: Millennials shaping foreign policy with Kony 2012?

Editor’s Note: The following piece, exclusive to GPS, comes from Wikistrat, the world's first massively multiplayer online consultancy.  It leverages a global network of subject-matter experts via a crowd-sourcing methodology to provide unique insights.


The Kony2012 Youtube sensation has triggered a secondary op-ed explosion, as “real experts” sound off - mostly negatively - about having their sacred analytic turf encroached upon by celebrity endorsers and ADHD-addled “slackivists” who’ve merely clicked a couple of buttons (Like! Donate!) before moving on to the next viral sensation.

There’s nothing more disturbing to the national security intelligentsia than having American foreign policy crowd-sourced, especially when those allegedly apathetic Millennials are preemptively arguing for aU.S.military intervention.

Doesn’t America’s biggest-ever generational cohort realize that the country is tired of performing global police work?

This week’s Wikistrat crowd-sourced drill looks at the Kony2012 video phenomenon, offering several reasons why it signals something new and important in U.S. foreign policy debates – and not.

Read the entire post at CNN's GPS blog.

9:38AM

WPR's The New Rules: In Gaming the Future, Don't Bet Against the Millennial Generation

As someone who thinks long and hard about global futures, I participate in a lot of professional forums where experts discuss the growing complexity of this world and question the ability of existing political systems, both democratic and authoritarian, to handle it. Some professionals, like Thomas Homer-Dixon, fret about an “ingenuity gap,” while regular readers of this column can attest to my frequent accusation that today’s political leaders lack “strategic imagination.” In short, we’re all arguing that politics isn’t keeping up with economics, much less technology.

And it scares us.

Read the entire column at World Politics Review.

11:39AM

WPR's The New Rules: Extended Life Expectancy Globalization's Next Political Battleground

Human life expectancy at birth, which remained stunningly fixed for thousands of years before suddenly doubling over the course of the 20th century, now seems destined to experience a similarly bold leap across the 21st century. When it does, it will shift human thinking about population control from its present focus on the outset of life to the increasingly delayed final curtain. The problem is that the technological advances that will make extending life expectancy possible are likely to come far faster than our political systems -- including the democracies -- can handle. 

Read the entire column at World Politics Review.

10:36AM

WPR's The New Rules: 3-D Printing Could Ease Strains of Global Population

According to the United Nations, today marks the birth of the world’s 7 billionth person, an event sure to cause great angst among the many surviving Malthusians who still believe that humanity’s ingenuity and the planet’s resources are both finite. But thanks to globalization’s continued advance and the modernization it enables, roughly four-fifths of humans live in societies with falling birth rates and half live in societies featuring lower than replacement-rate fertility. So we now know that the trajectory of global population growth will proceed somewhat more slowly toward our eighth and ninth billions, and that we may never reach the 10th.

Read the entire column at World Politics Review.

12:01AM

Wikistrat's "The World According to Tom Barnett" 2011 brief, Part 2 (Flow of People)

Part two of the Sept 2011 briefing to international military audience in Washington DC area. This section focused on the flow of people as captured in Wikistrat's GLOMOD (online, wiki-based "global model" of globalization), then moves on to the inevitabilities surrounding demographic aging, then explores how demography drives the Arab Spring, and then offers a regional evolution projection for the Middle East.