Introduction: Staff from Population Action International are
presenting “The Shape of Things to Come: Why Age Structure Matters to a
Safer, More Equitable World” at several events in Europe. Join Tyler
LePard, PAI’s Media Manager, for an inside look!
On Thursday morning, the PAI team and DSW colleagues walked to the
first event through the heart of Berlin. Eastern Berlin is full of
newly constructed and restored or rebuilt buildings. The past couple of
decades have brought many changes to Berlin, leaving little sign of The
Wall that divided the city. We walked along Friedrichstrasse and Unter
den Linden (two main thoroughfares), past several embassies, the
Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate to reach the building of the
Representative of the Federal State Lower Saxony for our morning event.
The “Journalistenworkshop” (or journalist workshop) was titled
“World Population Growth: A Security Risk for Germany?” and was
attended by journalists from The Financial Times of Germany and German Public Radio, among others.
The workshop began with a welcome from Catherina Hinz, Director of Communications for DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevolkerung). Claudia Kennedy (Lt.
General U.S. Army Retired and PAI Board Member) again introduced the
report, saying that “she can’t overemphasize the relevance of this
report for the world we live in right now. Half of the world’s
population is under the age of 30 and half of Sub-Sahara Africa’s
population is under the age of 20… Demographics do matter.”
In her presentation of “The Shape of Things to Come,”
Elizabeth Leahy (PAI Research Associate and lead author of the report)
reminded us that there are “challenges and opportunities for each age
structure… What matters most is government capacity and political
commitment to effective policies.” She emphasized that family planning
and reproductive health services must be accessible across a
population, grounded in individual rights and part of a comprehensive
Germany, for example, is a country that has completed the
demographic transition to reach the fourth and final category – mature
age structure – with 32 percent of the country younger than 30 years of
age and 25 percent older than 60. It is also one of the safest
countries for women’s health – skilled care at childbirth is universal,
contraceptive use is high and HIV, adolescent fertility, early
marriage, maternal mortality and infant mortality are all rare. The top
recipients of Germany’s development assistance have very young age
structures (except for China) and higher reproductive risk: Iraq, Nigeria, Nicaragua and Cameroon.
Following Elizabeth’s presentation, Dr. Steffen Angenendt, from the
German think tank Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (German Institute
for International and Security Affairs), gave a presentation in German.
His presentation was intended to put “The Shape of Things to Come” in
the broader context of population and other security risks, like
resource competition (such as water and food scarcity), ethnic tension,
migration and climate change.
The journalists were engaged in the workshop and followed-up with
interesting questions. Stay tuned – we’ll post the links when they’re
(By the way, it’s an urban myth that the John F. Kennedy quotation means “I’m a jelly donut.”)