demography Archives


The University of Sri Jayewardenepura is organizing an International Conference on Humanities and the Social Sciences, 10-11 November 2016. A principal focus is taking research to policy. That was why I accepted their invitation to be the Chief Guest and to moderate the media symposium. Here is a short excerpt from what I plan to say tomorrow. Hopefully the full speech will be published.
Last week, there was a two-day gathering of young politicians from Finland and Sri Lanka outside Colombo, in Usvetakeyiyava. The only common factor was age. Both sides had multiple political parties represented among them. I was asked to discuss the current political and economic situation in the country. I discussed some of the key challenges that we face, but which our political system does not give much weight to, except perhaps the first two, since 2015.
One may argue that demographic trends have little to do with what we at LIRNEasia do. I disagree. Especially when we are talking about knowledge work, service industries and infrastructure, demography is the place to start from. From the colloquium given by Professor Indralal de Silva several years ago, we’ve been fully engaged with these issues. The story on how Germany is failing to respond to the demographic crisis has lessons for all, especially countries that are getting old before becoming rich.

Demographic time bomb

Posted on September 10, 2012  /  0 Comments

At LIRNEasia, we do not focus solely on ICTs. For some time, we’ve been looking at demographic structure as a factor. Both the recent Afghanistan and Bhutan Sector Performance Reviews contained sections on demography. The demographic time bomb, the increase in the aged population before a country has had time to get rich and establish a safety net is less written about than the good stuff, but is perhaps the more important. Here is a senior official from China talking about it: Since 2004 the shrinking supply of — and increasing demand for — labour has led to wide labour shortage and rapid inflation of wages.

Demography and inequality

Posted on August 12, 2012  /  0 Comments

In 2008, I was presenting the results of Teleuse@BOP2 at the University of Salzburg, when a member of the audience wanted my response to his assertion that the Sri Lanka’s telecom reforms had contributed to rising income inequality. I said I did not see a relation, but he went on to publish a paper on the topic. Internally, we had a few conversations about responding to this piece, but competing demands on our time put that task on the backburner and finally took it off the agenda. Income inequality is a serious problem, no doubt. Many people have studied this problem, looking at education levels, welfare polices and so on as possible explanations but without reaching a conclusive finding.