Introduction: Political Demography as an Analytical Window on our World

Pieter Vanhuysse, Achim Goerres

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


This chapter introduces the overarching questions of our edited book on the politics of population change worldwide, Global Political Demography (Goerres and Vanhuysse 2021). How do the political economy and political sociology traits of some population groups relative to others - notably in terms of numerical size and political capacity - affect public policies, political actions and political order via the intermediary of political and institutional processes? How does this then produce various feedback effects? What can macro-demographic profiles tell us about the political problems a country or a macro-region faced in 1990, faces today, and will be facing by 2040? We analyse key indicators from the new Global Political Demography Database that accompanies this book and summarize main findings from this first attempt to study the interplay between population change and politics globally. We put forward three propositions: (1) Even though political demography remains an unjustly neglected approach, the political consequences and the political embeddedness of population change lie at the heart of the social sciences at large. (2) Population change creates both short-term (migration; frustration) and longer-term challenges (population ageing; fiscal sustainability), all of which require political and policy solutions. (3) Political reactions to population changes follow context-specific paths as their level of salience is socially and politically constructed. Demography is not destiny: politics is key to how population change affects societies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Political Demography : The Politics of Population Change
EditorsAchim Goerres, Pieter Vanhuysse
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)9783030730673, 9783030730642
ISBN (Electronic)9783030730659
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • political demography
  • population change
  • aging populations
  • youth bulges
  • political sociology
  • public policy


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