Monday, March 9, 2015

My new article on youthful countries breaking alliances

We know there are a lot of links between a state's age structure and its behavior. Does this relationship extend to alliances? Along with Dr. TongFi Kim, I published an article in International Interactions showing that there is indeed a strong relationship. Youthful states are much more likely to abrogate alliances than states with older age structures. We think these findings have major implications for US alliance policy. Email me if you'd like a copy. See: "The Effect of Age Structure on the Abrogation of Military Alliances."

Scholars of alliance politics have ignored a potentially important factor that shapes foreign policy: the age structure of a state. In this article, we argue that an alliance member is more likely to terminate the alliance in violation of the terms when the state’s youth ratio is high. The demographic pressure of a high youth ratio raises potential for political instability domestically, which in turn increases the risk of radical foreign policy changes. We demonstrate the effects of a state’s age structure on its alliance policy by examining alliance termination by violation from 1950 to 2000. Through quantitative analysis, we find that youth ratio is a strong and significant predictor of alliance abrogation. A brief examina- tion of several examples illustrates two paths by which the pressure created by a high youth ratio contributes to political instability and results in alliance abrogation—leadership change that brings about a new foreign policy and appeasement of the population through abrogation of an unpopular alliance.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Is Russia's older population driving their aggressive behavior?

This summer I was part of an excellent special edition of International Area Studies Review journal focusing on population and politics. My contribution offered a counterintuitive argument: an older population might make a country more aggressive, not more passive. 

Here's the abstract: 

In May 2006, President Vladimir Putin said that Russia’s dire demographics were the biggest challenge facing Russia. We know little about how states conduct foreign policy under demographic decline but some expect Russia to become more pacifist or to turn attention inward as its internal situation deteriorates. Power transition theory (PTT), however, which considers population as a key component of power, anticipates riskier international behavior under demographic changes. PTT predicts aggression under two conditions: when a dominant power sees its decline while secondary powers are rising; and when an inferior state sees its power increase while the dominant power declines. This article interprets Russia’s foreign policy actions from May 2006 through 2012 in light of PTT. I find that Russia was physically aggressive in its region when its population decline peaked, as PTT expects. Power transition theory also predicts Russia’s diplomatically aggressive foreign policy at the system level as Russian leaders’ perceptions of a favorable shift in the global balance of power gave them more confidence in Russia’s capabilities to challenge the status quo. This study furthers our understanding of foreign policy-making in times of demographic decline, extends power transition theory, and serves as a model for evaluating demographic trends and foreign policy for other great powers.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Why a Convention on the Rights of Older People now?

The second article of my global aging advocacy project is out now in the International Journal of Human Rights

The aged remain one of the few vulnerable groups without formalized protection in their own covenant. Attempts to secure a UN declaration on older persons’ rights in 1948, 1991, and 1999 failed to gain traction, but the most recent attempt to launch a campaign has garnered support from civil society and a large group of states. What explains the traction of the rights frame during the most recent campaign? Through interviews, observation, and qualitative analysis of key documents, I argue that norm diffusion from Latin America to the international level and from the debate and passage of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006 drove the timing and, to some degree, the salience, of the contemporary CROP campaign and that states’ interests and incentives, which have shifted as population ageing has intensified, mainly explain their support or resistance. The findings increase our understanding of agenda-setting in social movements and at the UN, and of the broader political implications of global population ageing. The findings also indicate that the proposed convention faces significant hurdles and is unlikely to be passed in the near future. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Framing and Power in Aging Advocacy

My new article on global advocacy for older people is out in the journal Social Movement Studies. I hope this is the first of many articles on this fascinating topic. If we really expect that population aging will lead older people to take over politics, then shouldn't we already see the influence global advocacy groups?

Abstract: The number of groups advocating on behalf of older people, their activities, and their influence suggests that a transnational advocacy network around aging is emerging, but there have been no attempts to study how dense this network is, nor how power is distributed within it. Through collective action frame analysis, this article explores whether organizations advocating on behalf of older people represent the variety of global aging experiences in both developed and less developed contexts. The analysis relies on four types of evidence: documentary; survey; interview; and observation. Advocacy groups employ a number of diagnostic, prognostic, and motivational frames. The findings support arguments in the literature that diverse collective action frames can be more of an asset than a liability because they increase the network’s reach and resonance with multiple stakeholders. Although the aging advocacy network is not very dense, it is becoming denser because of rise of the human rights master frame and the rally for a UN Convention on the Rights of Older People. The frame empowers the network to use its diversity to its advantage, since individual organizations can work for whatever piece of the human rights frame matches best with their organization’s mandate. There are still major power imbalances within the network, however. While it is growing more inclusive of voices from less developed countries, global civil society remains a space for organizations with resources, which those organizations based in poorer countries simply do not have. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Is population aging really so bad?

I have a chapter in the excellent new edited book, Political Demography: Identity, Institutions, and Conflict. In it I argue that the absence of a theoretical framework within which to structure discussion of population aging has led scholars to underestimate the role of the state in mediating the effects of population. There are plentiful descriptions of military and fiscal constraints aging will bring, but little consideration of how policies are made, how states affect the global political environment, and how the geopolitical environment affects states. Power transition theory--which looks at multiple elements of population, plus productivity and political capacity--can help identify several points of leverage states can use to play the demographic cards they’ve been dealt.

Demography and Instability in the Developing World

I have a new article out in the Spring 2012 issue of Orbis journal. Here's the abstract: Demography provides a framework for analyzing the effect of population on national security and a tool to assess how demographic trends in the developing world will influence conflict over the next twenty years. Population is connected to national security as an indicator of challenge and opportunity, a multiplier of conflict and progress, and a resource for power and prosperity. This indicator-multiplier-resource framework is then applied to the three influential demographic issues of the developing world: (1) youthful populations; (2) transitional age structures; and (3) urbanization. These diverse demographic trends reveal a growing divergence among states in the developing world and the need to continue to plan for the spectrum of warfare, though there will be an increasing number of supportive and capable states.