Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

The Real Migration Crisis

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About the series

The world is in the midst of an unprecedented demographic shift that is upending age struc­tures and the geography of human population. Life expectancy continues to climb across most of the world while fertility rates are falling—especially in richer countries. The result is an aging population in upper-middle- and high-income economies, accompanied by steady growth in the working age population in the world’s poorer countries. In a CGD note and accompanying blog series, Charles Kenny examines what this global workforce imbalance could mean for both poorer and richer economies, and how countries can avert the economic consequences by embracing global worker mobility.

More from the Series

The Real Migration Crisis

Based on UN projections from the period 2015 to 2050, Rebekah Smith and Farah Hani have calculated that prime working-age populations of OECD countries will shrink by more than 92 million people while there will be nearly 1.4 billion new working-age people in developing countries. This note updates and extends that analysis, including by examining the coming labor shortage In upper middle income countries, where the forecast decline in the number of workers is even larger than in high-income countries. Unaddressed, the global workforce imbalance is a threat to economic performance in both poorer and richer countries. But it also presents a considerable opportunity to both sets of countries—if they embrace global worker mobility

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What Comes After the Demographic Dividend? East Asia is Finding Out

East Asia’s miracle countries are the stuff of both economic legend and considerable debate. One part of the story may be demographics: East Asia saw rising life expectancy and declining birth rates that dramatically, if temporarily, increased the proportion of the population that was of working age. But now the demographics have shifted as a result of falling birth rates and a rising population of retirement-aged people. Absent a policy response, that could portend a cursed demographic future.