Failing states

Written by Lester Brown

  In 14 of the top 20 failing states, at least 40% of the population is under 15, a demographic indicator that raises the likelihood of future political instability.  Young men, lacking employment opportunities, often become disaffected and ready recruits for insurgencies.

·         Large families beget poverty and poverty begets large families.  This is the trap.  Women is Sudan have on average 4 children, double the number needed for replacement, expanding the population of 42 million by 2,000/day.  Under this pressure, Sudan—like scores of other countries—is breaking down.

·         After a point, as rapid population growth, deteriorating environmental support systems, and poverty embrace each other, the resulting instability makes it difficult to attract investment from abroad. Even public assistance from donor countries are sometimes phased out as the security breakdown threatens the lives of aid workers.  A drying up of foreign investment and an associated rise in unemployment are also part of the decline syndrome.

·         Some large countries with over 100 million people, such as Pakistan and Nigeria, are working their way up the failing states list.  So is Mexico, where both oil production and exports have peaked, depriving the government of tax revenue and foreign exchange.  In Mexico, the government’s war with the drug cartels has claimed 16,000 lives since 2006.  With income from oil and tourism shrinking and with foreign investors becoming nervous, the Mexican government is being seriously challenged.

Lester Brown, World on the Edge, pp.90-93.

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