Many believe that local, national and global population growth is exponential leading to calls to avoid immigration or cut, need for population control etc., but is it true? No, according to experts, outside of the UN Population Division, population will peak mid century then decline while ageing further.
What does this mean for the world and nation state economies? Competition for people whether immigration and temporary workers to fill gaps and support budgets.
From The Lowy Institute:
Competition for the world’s best and brightest will intensify as global population growth slows. Is Australia ready?
Once confident predictions that the world’s population will reach billion by the end of this century are beginning to be debunked. It is now appears more likely that the global population will hit a ceiling before reaching nine billion by mid-century, and then begin to decline.
This tapering of world population growth is being driven by two key revolutions. One is increasing urbanisation, with more and more people living in cities, which makes children less of an essential resource for families then they would be in rural areas. The other is female education and empowerment, with women deciding – when given the choice – that they desire no more than two children.
Such global trends have significant implications for individual countries, both in national capabilities and geostrategic calculations. This is particularly the case for Australia. Countries that are able to both retain and attract people will find themselves at a distinct advantage.
Currently there is a low-intensity competition for human capital between mostly Western states. These countries have recognised a basic demographic problem; that their birth rates are too low to replace their populations, and without immigration they will end up with elderly societies without the workers to sustain their living standards. Alongside this, attracting highly skilled migrants also boosts productivity.
Yet the population strategies of most of these countries are under threat by parochial narratives that place the political sustainability of their immigration programs at risk.
These narratives are born out of a paradox within the nation-state, where elements within these countries believe that the strategies of the state are undermining the nation. Such sentiment seems uninterested in economic imperatives, or indeed foreign policy concerns about their country’s capabilities in relation to others. Yet these issues are vital to a national interest, and therefore need to be aligned to how a country sees itself….
….. However, it would not be prudent for Australia to rely on this possibility. By seeking to enhance its own capabilities, Australia can help to escape the influence of external forces. Which means in a world of declining birth rates, Australia’s immigration program should be seen as the country’s principal strategic asset. This indicates that Australia may need to develop something it currently lacks – a prominent positive public narrative around its highly successful immigration story.
A recent speech from Canada’s Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer offers a good example of the way Australia can develop a positive public narrative around immigration. Scheer highlighted the bravery of migration, the honour Canada feels at being chosen by migrants, and the prosperity that has developed in Canada as a consequence of these migrant flows. It is a speech that no politician in Australia could seemingly deliver (bar its requisite politicking) but is a sentiment that is embraced by all Canadian political parties (with the exception of the Quebec nationalist parties).
As a competitor to Australia for skilled labour, the message Scheer conveyed helps to reinforce support for Canada’s immigration program. And if national competition for people intensifies as global population declines, it will provide Canada with a distinct advantage that Australia currently cannot match.’