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date: 12 July 2020

Summary and Keywords

Population movements can affect security in a variety of ways. Aside from altering a society’s overall balance of population and physical resources, they exert a considerable influence on the institutions of society—the state, elite recruitment and social status, the military, labor organizations and peasant villages—in a way that undermines political and social order. The consequences of population movements for security can also be seen in differential population growth and migration, differential aging of different populations, and issues of resource allocation and climate change. The work of T. R. Malthus in the early nineteenth century advanced the argument that more people would put an undesirable burden on societies, and weaken them. Julian Simon turned the Malthusian argument on its head with his claim that people were the “ultimate resource,” and that the more people were around to work on solving the globe’s problems, the more likely it was that powerful solutions would be found. The debate between Malthusians, represented by Paul Ehrlich, and Cornucopians, represented by Simon, from the 1960s to the 1990s was primarily about the impact of population on economic growth. In the 1990s, a new direction emerged in the debate on population and security. This was the argument that population growth would lead to local shortages of critical resources such as farmland, water, and timber, and that these could trigger internal conflicts and even civil wars. These conflicts arise only where states and economies are relatively weak and unable to respond to population growth.

Keywords: security, population movement, population growth, migration, differential aging, resource allocation, T. R. Malthus, Julian Simon, economic growth, conflicts

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