01 July 2013

Population changes provide opportunities for development

Current population changes in much of the developed world present an opportunity, not a threat, according to a new report produced by IIASA, which underlies discussions this week at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Beyond 2014 conference.

Employee at Garment Factory UN Photo/Kibae Park

Employee at Garment Factory UN Photo/Kibae Park

Is population aging a threat for countries in the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) region, which includes Europe, North America and Central Asia? Is migration a threat or an opportunity for development? Is fertility in the region too low? And are ECE countries becoming less equal societies?

The new report, led by researchers Jana Vobecka,  William Butz, and Gerald Reyes of IIASA and the IIASA-affiliated Wittgenstein Center, provides answers to these four questions – all hotly debated right now across the region. The report shows that with the right policies, all of these issues can in fact provide opportunities for economic and social development. The report provides 36 best practices in response to the demographic challenges, noting that one policy cannot fit all countries.

“Overall the news is good,” says IIASA population expert and Wittgenstein Center co-director William Butz, “By investing in human capital, particularly education and health, and making appropriate policy adjustments, European, North American and Central Asian countries can prosper without growing populations.”

IIASA World Population Program Leader and Wittgenstein Center Founding Director Wolfgang Lutz will give the first thematic keynote address at the IPCD meeting, following the political keynote by former President of Finland Halonen. He will also take part in the thematic session on "Population Dynamics and Sustainable Development.”

IIASA researchers are available to comment on the report. For more details please contact the IIASA press office.

Read the report (PDF)

Photo credit: UN Photo/Kibae Park

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Last edited: 16 July 2013


Wolfgang Lutz

Acting Research Group Leader and Principal Research Scholar Social Cohesion, Health, and Wellbeing Research Group - Population and Just Societies Program

Principal Research Scholar and Senior Program Advisor Population and Just Societies Program

T +43(0) 2236 807 294


The conference will be streamed live on July 2.

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313