2. Demography – Regional & Global Dimension

4 replies

  1. This lecture opened my eayes for new power – demography. As nothing before, it helped me realize that power of every country is connectet with the „amount of citizens”. I was astonished by this simple truth, whole politycs and policys started to make sense. Unfortunately i do realize that it is also our problem, and in fact the balance of powers in the europe and in the world will not change so easy. It is true, that right now Germans have bigger problems than we do, but if it comes to make any resume, the proportion of Polish and German citizens after the demographic crisys wont be different than now, there still will be more germans than poles. Same thing happens when we compare Poland and Russia.
    The best examples of all – China and India, especially China example, have made me see that we can’t precive wealth and power by matter of whole country. In China we can observe regularity in weatlh of citizens – poverty of the west and middle part and uncomperable with nothing else affulence of the eastern part which have great connection with open sea. But what will happen if this long term diagnosis will come out to be true? China, as well as we do, have the problem of aging society. Is it possible that worlds economic gigant will turn out to be weak and unstable? I cant say, but from my point of view it wont happen now. Sure, they wont be so powerfull, but still there will be more chinease then any others. Maybe this depographic changes will help us with fighting with poverty.
    But again, it is possible that our economy wil response with another, small, internal crisys. Imagine the situation, when our national stock (for retirements) is gone, because there is so many retired citizens that young people are not able to pay for their retirements. Our elders will suffer poverty and we can’t do anything about it. Unfortunately for me this is the major conclusion of this lecture.

  2. I can remember our lecture, when we were discussing the issue of „ Zeitgeist” . Demography and the process of society aging, currently still being not enough recognized by main part of a society, will definitely play significant role and become a “Zeitgeist” of XXI century. It will lead to geopolitical shift of power, however, paradoxically, I deeply believe, that in long-term analysis do not have to be so pejorative for Europe, as it is being currently described.
    Demography is a social science. The best way to describe social sciences is to use microeconomics with its universal lows and processes. Microeconomic analysis of demography was implemented by Gary Becker (University of Chicago) more than 35 years ago. He considered children as “durable consumer good”, which definitely can be an element of consumer’s utility function and preferences. To simplify the issue – rapid economic development in XIX/XX century was the reason for significant growth of cost of having a children, meanwhile the cost of other goods has relatively decreased. It has greatly changed customer’s decisions.
    I have mentioned Gary Becker’s theories in order to prove a simple conclusion- demographic changes are universal, so each part of the world has already dealt (or will be dealing) with it. Europe, due to its high level of development, was first to face that problem.
    I would also like to indicate another fact- the biggest demographic difficulties, connected with disproportionate group of elderly people, will be an indispensable element of society after 25-50 years after the finish of second demographic transition. The reason for it is TFR (Total Fertility Rate) – the elder society groups were born when it was relatively high, younger when it decreased, so there are significant differences between them and demographic pyramid is regressive. However, the main characteristic of society after II demographic transition is the constancy of TFR, so consequently the pyramid will evaluate to more monotonic.
    Combining two aforementioned factors – the demographic situation in the EU will start to be relatively improving when countries, which are currently seen as emerging (China, India, Brazil, even Arabic World) will be facing main threats and problems with population aging. Europe will be a kind of pioneer in the world of new demography, which will be harmful at the beginning, but beneficial in long-term.

  3. As one observe in the daily life, last decades were full of human drive for youth. Surly, it might be justificated by some trends like hope put on younger generations, which are to create better future for all of us and etc. Thus, an enormous interest into early education, increasing intellectual skills of the youth and etc could be seen.
    Nevertheless, at the same time, but on the other side, there was constantly increasing number of the eldery, left almost on their own in rushing ununderstable world. I guess everyone could experience the enormous amount of elder but still phisically and mentally vigorous people, who spend their time in any productive way.
    In last few years, however, a brand new optimistic trend is visible. As a student of psychology I got an opportunity to participate in Activiation Programme for the Eldery, or more specifically just-retired people, which was to be a first stimuli in whole activation process. Despite of previous fears and preparation for unxepected obstacles, all of voluunter students were extremely suprised with the real will of those elder people to take up any additional activity. Also, a vast part of them suggested, they would have come back to work, if they only could.
    Nowadays, in Poland there is not enough attention paid to health or psychological care of such workers, which are strongly motivated to compose their long experience at work with new skills aquired during a series of training course. However, hopefully, the ideas from the West will soon come also to our country, as Polish demographic situation indicates, that every additional labour force is needed.
    Disregarding the fact that for many students, working with elder people does not look tempting at all, I take another direction of thinking and seriously consider the possibility of becoming a retirement coach. That is because the market of services in my opinion will soon be modified in the way to respond to the needs and expectations of the eldery, as well as to broaden the spectrum of employees above actual retirement age. Then, such instructors will be wanted.

  4. I would like to react on a remark that was made during the lecture on demography, more specifically about the murder on Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who got killed by a Muslim extremist because he appeared to be ‘an enemy of Islam’. As one could expect, this incident caused a lot of indignation among the Dutch population (and the autochthonous population in most Western European countries in general), not in the least because this crime had such a symbolic value for all multicultural societies. In his reaction on the murder, prime minister Balkenende stressed additionally the importance of freedom of speech in the Netherlands, slightly pointing at the Muslim minority as the main potential danger to this.
    Moreover, this murder became the perfect occasion for a lot of conservative opinion makers in Western Europe to stir up the discussion about the danger of Muslim fundamentalism, as if there would be a major conspiracy ahead to take over the control of their governments and even to oblige all Western European women in the end to wear burka’s (as pointed out by the British columnist Theodore Dalrymple). As a result, the media divided the population roughly (and very generalising) into two groups: firstly the ‘autochthonous, mostly non-Muslim’ population, and on the other hand the ‘imigrant Muslim population’ (even if they were already the second or third generation in the country). By playing both parties off against each other, the gap between both ‘civilizations’ became wider and wider. Especially in very multinational states such as Belgium and the Netherlands, the impact of this social conflict is growing every day because also the other socio-cultural entities got involved into this dilemma of ‘choosing for unlimited freedom of speech’ or ‘respect for other cultures by limiting your own freedom’. How could such a –let’s say- passing event in the history of mankind provoke such a wave of intolerance and fundamentalism?

    Therefore, we should take a closer look to the other protagonist in this story, namely to the activities and behaviour of this Mr. van Gogh. A man who calls Muslims in general ‘goat fuckers’ and who is even to the standards of his own country a pedestrian provoker, is indeed the most perfect example to Western Europeans of their so beloved ‘freedom of speech’. But if the killing of such a person would explicitly mean that the entire principle of ‘freedom of speech’ is about to come to an end? It’s a strange thing that only one perception of this principle would be the right and only one. In a world that’s moving so fast, with such a growing (and needed!) influence of other cultures to one another due to migration, we cannot afford us to stay stubborn in our way of thinking. Respect towards the others will be more and more a cure element in sustaining a powerful state, and a lack of it could mean the damaging of its economical and democratic values. A similar thing is already happening in Belgium, where the forming of a government is taking already more than 500 days due to intolerance between Walloons and the Flemish, not to speak already about the growing intolerance towards immigrants… Fact is that the country is getting every day closer and closer to an economic and financial disaster, and the increasing disinterest and even disbelief of the people in democracy makes even the potential of a totalitarian coup not unthinkable.

    So the question has to be in my opinion not about the danger Islam could be to the Western European vision on freedom of speech, but rather about how Western European societies could reorganise their vision on tolerance, freedom of speech included. One could ask himself if our vision on freedom of speech is necessarily better than this of Islam and if the extremist way of maintaining it is worth all the clashes they cause. If we want to overcome the ‘age of ageing’ as to speak, there are some important changes required as it comes to our proud mentality of ‘we are the centre of the world’, because soon a time might come in which we will be nothing more than a paria of those we disdain now.


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