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Friday, May 17, 2019
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 7 2015 (IPS) - As the unprecedented flow of hundreds and thousands of migrants and refugees continues from war-ravaged countries to Europe, a new study warns that large-scale migration from poorer to rich nations will be a permanent feature of the global economy for decades.
The joint study by the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), released Oct. 7, says the world is undergoing a major population shift that will reshape economic development for decades.
And, while this poses challenges, it also offers a path to ending extreme poverty and shared prosperity if the right evidence-based policies are put in place nationally and internationally.
Joseph Chamie, an independent consulting demographer and a former director of the United Nations Population Division, told IPS that in contrast to the recently adopted UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the WB/IMF report does not ignore population growth, but rightly acknowledges its vital role in the global economy and development efforts.
He said rapid rates of population growth in some regions, population decline in others, population aging, increased longevity, urbanization, international migration including increasing refugee flows and other critical demographic trends are ushering in a “new international population order.”
According to U.N. officials, the United Nations at onetime battled with two such concepts: a new International Economic Order and a new World Information and Communication Order.
“This new population order is increasingly affecting social and economic conditions, political representation and influence and international relations. Yet, politicians and their policy advisors by and large disregard those dynamics except when a crisis emerges, such as the recent refugee flows from the Middle East,” Chamie pointed out.
There is not a single development concern – including poverty, hunger, housing, education, employment, health and environment – that would not benefit from reducing high rates of population growth, predicted Chamie.
In a new twist to the migrant and refugee flows, the Wall Street Journal says the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also known as the Islamic State) is wooing doctors, teachers and skilled workers and preventing them from fleeing to Europe because the militant organisation is urgently in need of these workers.
“Islamic State’s pre-occupation with the migrant crisis reflects its increasing worry over a brain drain in its territory, which stretches across parts of Iraq and Syria,” said the Journal in a report published Oct. 7.
The Journal quotes one Mosul resident as saying: “They’re telling people that this migration is a conspiracy against Islamic State and that the same European countries that humiliated you long ago are trying to enslave you again.”
The WB/IMF report says the share of global population that is working age has peaked at 66 percent and is now on the decline.
World population growth is expected to slow to 1.0 percent from more than 2.0 percent in the 1960s. The share of the elderly is anticipated to almost double to 16 percent by 2050, while the global count of children is stabilizing at 2.0 billion.
The direction and pace of this global demographic transition varies dramatically from country to country, with differing implications depending on where a nation stands on the spectrum of aging and economic development. Regardless of this diversity, countries at all stages of development can harness demographic transition as a tremendous development opportunity, the report says.
“With the right set of policies, this era of demographic change can be an engine of economic growth,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.
“If countries with ageing populations can create a path for refugees and migrants to participate in the economy, everyone benefits, Most of the evidence suggests that migrants will work hard and contribute more in taxes than they consume in social services.”
According to the study, more than 90 percent of global poverty is concentrated in lower-income countries with young, fast-growing populations that can expect to see their working-age populations grow significantly.
At the same time, more than three-quarters of global growth is generated in higher-income countries with much-lower fertility rates, fewer people of working age, and rising numbers of the elderly.
Chamie told IPS that due to the substantial differences in rates of demographic growth, the population of the least developed countries (LDCs) is expected to surpass the population of the more developed countries by 2030.
Another clear future trend acknowledged by the WB/IMF report, he said, is large-scale international migration flows, including refugees and illegal migration from poor countries to richer regions.
“It is evident, as noted in the WB/IMF report, that demographic developments pose fundamental challenges for policy makers in the years ahead. However, it is not at all clear – and perhaps even doubtful – that political leaders will be effective in addressing those challenges, especially if they continue discounting critical demographic trends and disregarding the new international population order,” he declared.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde was quoted as saying: “The demographic developments analyzed in the report will pose fundamental challenges for policy-makers across the world in the years ahead.”
“Whether it be the implications of steadily ageing populations, the actions needed to benefit from a demographic dividend, the handling of migration flows – these issues will be at the center of national policy debates and of the international dialogue on how best to cooperate in handling these pressures,” she said.
The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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