Articles & Other

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The End of the One Child Policy

After years of hesitation, the Chinese government has finally repealed its controversial one-child policy. As GAI President Richard Jackson explains in this commentary, the move is welcome on human rights grounds. It may also help to mitigate China’s gender imbalance. Unfortunately, it won’t do much to advance the government’s main objective, which according to the Central Committee’s official announcement is to “counter the aging of the population.”

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Published: Oct 2015

Authors: Richard Jackson

Type: Article


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The Future of Retirement in East Asia

The role of the family in retirement security is receding in East Asia, but adequate government and market substitutes have not yet taken its place. In this article, GAI President Richard Jackson previews the findings of Wave 2 of the East Asia Retirement Survey, which offers powerful new insights into how rapid demographic, economic, and social change are reshaping retirement attitudes and expectations across the region.

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Published: May 2015

Authors: Richard Jackson

Type: Article


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Attitudes toward the Role of the Family, the Individual, and the State in Providing Retirement Security:
Survey Evidence from Emerging East Asia

How are retirees in East Asia coping with the cultural and social crosscurrents of rapid modernization? How are workers now planning for their own future retirement? And what type of retirement system would people actually prefer, if given the choice? In this contribution to Equitable and Sustainable Pensions: Challenges and Opportunities (IMF, 2014), Richard Jackson discusses what the first wave of GAI’s East Asia Retirement Survey reveals about changing attitudes toward the role of the family, the individual, and the state in retirement provision.

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Published: Mar 2014

Authors: Richard Jackson

Type: Book Chapter

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How Global Aging Will Reshape the Economic and Business Environment of the 21st Century

Over the next few decades, global aging will have a profound impact on economic performance, social and political stability, and investment risks and opportunities worldwide. In this article, Richard Jackson offers a concise overview of how falling fertility and rising life expectancy will reshape the future economic and business environment. 

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Published: Jul 2013

Authors: Richard Jackson

Type: Article


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And Then There Was One

With its chronically low fertility rate, world record life expectancy, and aversion to migrants, Japan is ground zero for global aging. Yet, as Richard Jackson argues in this article, Japan also enjoys a number of enviable advantages that may better position it to cope with its aging population than many western countries—at least for a while.

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Published: Mar 2013

Authors: Richard Jackson

Type: Article


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How Demography is Reshaping the Economic and Social Landscape of the Twenty-first Century

Ten or fifteen years ago, global aging barely registered as a policy issue. Today, with large age waves looming just over the horizon in most of the world’s leading economies, it has become the focus of growing concern. In this contribution to Addressing the Global Ageing Challenge: Funding Issues and Insurance Solutions (Geneva Association, 2012), Richard Jackson explores the implications of the unprecedented demographic transformation now sweeping the world and discusses six critical policy strategies that can help countries prepare.

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Published: Jun 2012

Authors: Richard Jackson

Type: Book Chapter


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7 Billion Is Not the Problem:
Why Malthusians Have It Wrong

When the global population reached the 7 billion mark in 2011, it triggered renewed alarm that the world is headed for a Malthusian crisis, with growing resource scarcity, environmental degradation, and “youth bulge” driven instability. In this article, Tobias Peter argues that the alarm is largely misplaced. The global population growth rate has been decelerating for decades and, according to the latest UN projections, will fall to near zero by mid-century. The greatest demographic challenge facing the world today is no longer rapid population growth, but rapid population aging.

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Published: Mar 2012

Authors: Richard Jackson

Type: Article


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Demography and Geopolitics:
Understanding Today’s Debate in Its Historical and Intellectual Context

There has recently been an explosion of worldwide interest in (and worries about) the impact of demography on geopolitics. In this contribution to Political Demography: How Population Changes are Reshaping International Security and National Politics (Paradigm Publishers, 2012), Neil Howe and Richard Jackson step back and survey what policy leaders and thought leaders have been saying about population and power since the dawn of civilization, as well as how population actually has influenced power over the broad sweep of time.

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Published: Dec 2011

Authors: Neil Howe and Richard Jackson

Type: Book Chapter

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How Ready for Pensioners?

As the world’s populations age, it will become increasingly difficult for societies to provide a decent standard of living for the old without imposing a crushing burden on the young. Which countries are most prepared to meet the challenge? And which are least prepared? In this article, Neil Howe and Richard Jackson discuss the findings of the Global Aging Preparedness (GAP) Index, a new analytical tool for assessing the progress that countries worldwide are making in preparing for global aging, and particularly the old-age dependency dimension of the challenge.

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Published: Jun 2011

Authors: Neil Howe and Richard Jackson

Type: Article


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The Global Aging Preparedness Index:
A New Tool for Assessing How Well Prepared Countries are for Global Aging

Which countries are most prepared to meet the global aging challenge? And which are least prepared? In this article, Richard Jackson discusses the findings of the Global Aging Preparedness (GAP) Index, which provides the first comprehensive quantitative assessment of the progress that countries worldwide are making in preparing for the global aging, and particularly the old-age dependency dimension of the challenge.

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Published: Apr 2011

Authors: Richard Jackson

Type: Article


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Can an Aging China Be a Rising China?

As China ages, it will have to confront many of the same obstacles to economic growth that confront today’s developed countries, from rising old-age dependency burdens to a graying workforce and declining savings and investment rates. But one important difference makes China’s aging challenge even more daunting. While today’s developed countries became affluent societies before they became aging societies, China’s age wave will arrive in a society that is still developing and modernizing—and that has not yet had time to put in place the full social projections of a modern welfare state. In this article, Richard Jackson discusses the implications of China’s coming demographic transformation for its economy, society, and place in the world order.

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Published: Apr 01, 2011

Authors: Richard Jackson

Type: Article


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The Center for Strategic and International Studies on Why Policy Matters

Global aging throws into question the ability of societies to provide a decent standard of living for the old without imposing a crushing burden on the young. Nowhere is this truer than in Europe, whose rapidly aging populations threaten to overwhelm the welfare state. In this article, Richard Jackson, drawing on the findings of the Global Aging Preparedness (GAP) Index, discusses which European countries are best prepared for the oncoming demographic transformation—and which are least prepared.

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Published: Feb 04, 2011

Authors: Richard Jackson

Type: Article


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Global Aging and the Crisis of the 2020s

Planning long-term national strategy without considering population projections is like setting sail without a map or a compass. In this article, Neil Howe and Richard Jackson explore how demographic trends are shaping the geopolitical cartography of the 21st century. They argue that gathering demographic storms, from the premature aging of China’s population to the implosion of Russia’s, will increase the risk of social and political upheaval throughout the developing world. At the same time, the developed world’s capacity to deal with these threats is likely to decline. The result could be a period of heightened geopolitical risk in the 2020s.

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Published: Jan 2011

Authors: Neil Howe and Richard Jackson

Type: Article


Here Come the Elderly

With much of the world still reeling from the global economic crisis that began in 2008, many policy leaders have concluded that now is not the right time to address the long-term challenge of global aging. In this op-ed, Neil Howe, Richard Jackson, and Keisuke Nakashima argue that this is a serious mistake.

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Published: Oct 2010

Authors: Richard Jackson, Neil Howe, and Keisuke Nakashima

Type: Op-Ed


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Global Aging and the Future of Funded Pensions

Global aging will challenge the ability of societies to provide a decent standard of living for the old without imposing a crushing burden on the young. In this contribution to Investments and Payouts in Funded Pension Systems (FIAP, 2009), Richard Jackson argues that as societies age, those with funded pension systems will be better prepared to meet the challenge than those with pay-as-you-go systems. At the macro level, funded pension systems can take pressure off public budgets, help to maintain adequate rates of savings and investment, and speed the development of capital markets. At the micro level, they will enjoy a widening rate of return advantage over pay-as-you-go systems that will allow them to deliver adequate benefits at a more affordable cost. 

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Published: Jun 2009

Authors: Richard Jackson

Type: Book Chapter


The World Won’t Be Aging Gracefully. Just the Opposite.

From the fall of the Roman and the Mayan empires to the Black Death to the colonization of the New World and the youth-driven revolutions of the 20th century, demographic trends have played a decisive role in precipitating many of the great invasions, political upheavals, migrations, and environmental catastrophes of history. In this op-ed, Neil Howe and Richard Jackson argue that by the 2020s an ominous new conjuncture of demographic trends in both the developed and developing worlds will once again threaten massive disruption.

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Published: Jan 2009

Authors: Neil Howe and Richard Jackson

Type: Op-Ed


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Battle of the (Youth) Bulge

Some security experts maintain that global demographic trends are progressively pushing the world toward greater peace and prosperity. In this article, Neil Howe and Richard Jackson argue that just the opposite is true. Over the next few decades, the developed countries will age and weaken. Meanwhile, dramatic demographic trends in developing nations—from resurgent youth booms in the Muslim world to premature aging in China and population implosion in Russia—will give rise to dangerous new security threats. Rather than toward greater peace and prosperity, demography is pushing the world toward a period of heightened geopolitical risk in the 2020s.

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Published: Aug 2008

Authors: Neil Howe and Richard Jackson

Type: Article


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Meeting Japan’s Aging Challenge

Japan’s massive age wave has led many in the West—and some in Japan—to conclude that its future must be one of inevitable economic decline. In this article, Richard Jackson and Keisuke Nakashima argue that, despite the magnitude of the demographic challenge, Japan enjoys a number of offsetting economic, social, and cultural advantages that may leave it better prepared to confront the aging challenge than many western countries. 

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Published: Mar 2008

Authors: Richard Jackson and Keisuke Nakashima

Type: Article


Rising Populations Breed Rising Powers

There decades ago, a population explosion was deemed to be humanity’s greatest threat. In this op-ed, Neil Howe and Richard Jackson explain how the prospect of a population implosion now haunts our future—and why it threatens to usher in a new era of slower economic growth and greater social and political instability.

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Published: Feb 2007

Authors: Neil Howe and Richard Jackson

Type: Op-Ed


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How to Improve Long-Term Immigration Projections

In recent years, much progress has been made in improving the fertility and longevity modules of the demographic projection puzzle. Little progress, however, has been made in dealing with cross-border migration or (more specifically, from the point of view of most developed countries) immigration. In this issue brief, Neil Howe and Richard Jackson describe a new “driver based” approach to projecting long-term international migration flows that draws on the wealth of insights offered by the large and growing theoretical and empirical literature on the causes of international migration.

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Published: Jun 2006

Authors: Neil Howe and Richard Jackson

Type: Issue Brief


Retirement Policy Challenges and Opportunities of Our Aging Society

The aging of America promises to usher in one of the most fundamental social transformations that the nation has ever experienced. In this testimony delivered before the House Ways and Means Committee, Richard Jackson explains why an aging America will have no choice but to rethink its whole system of senior entitlements.

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Published: May 2005

Authors: Richard Jackson

Type: Testimony