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East Asia’s Coming Population Collapse

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the dramatic demographic shift that East Asia is expected to experience in the coming decades, with the populations of China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan projected to decline significantly. It explores the implications of this depopulation on the region's economic and geopolitical power, as well as the potential impact on the United States.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Why Ukraine Should Keep Striking Russian Oil Refineries

1. What are the key points made in this article about the demographic changes in East Asia?

  • East Asia's main states - China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan - are set to experience a significant population decline in the coming decades, with their populations projected to fall by 8-18% between 2020 and 2050.
  • This demographic shift is driven by falling fertility rates across the region, which have dropped well below the replacement level of 2.1 births per woman.
  • The population decline will lead to an aging population, with the "oldest old" (those over 80) making up a much larger share of the population by 2050.
  • This demographic transition will have significant economic and geopolitical consequences for the region, including:
    • Smaller economies and labor forces
    • Increased pressure on social safety nets and elder care
    • Weakened military recruiting pools, especially for China relative to the United States

2. How does the demographic outlook for the United States compare to that of East Asia?

  • The U.S. population is projected to continue growing, in contrast to the declining populations of East Asia.
  • The U.S. has higher fertility rates and greater immigration compared to East Asia, which helps sustain population growth.
  • The U.S. is also expected to have a higher potential support ratio (working-age population to elderly population) than major Western economies by 2050.

3. What are the potential geopolitical implications of East Asia's demographic decline?

  • The weakening of East Asia's militaries due to shrinking recruitment pools could benefit the United States geopolitically, as it will limit China's options and make it harder for Beijing to project power.
  • However, the demographic decline in U.S. allies like Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan may also reduce their ability to contribute to regional security, potentially increasing the burden on the United States.
  • The article cautions that the United States should not take advantage of its allies' demographic challenges, as that could undermine collective security in the region and benefit China.

[02] Washington's Fears About Energy Markets Are Misplaced

This section is not covered in the article, as the article is focused on the demographic changes in East Asia and their implications.

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