[FOUNTAIN]Demographics are key factor for any nation

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[FOUNTAIN]Demographics are key factor for any nation

One of the ways to predict the future of a nation is to analyze the movement of its population. Demographics hold immense political, social and economic significance. Cultural factors such as education and religion can influence the overall direction of a nation.
There are many examples of how demographics can provide insight. Take for example Taiwan, which held the presidential election on March 20. During political campaigns just a decade ago, Taiwan’s independence was never in dispute. But now, independence and the threat of China are hot topics. Demographic shifts and the new way of thinking made it possible to talk about the sensitive issue.
Last August, Taiwan’s television station, TVBS, conducted a poll, asking viewers whether they considered themselves Taiwanese, Chinese or both. More than 60 percent of those aged between 13 and 17 responded they were Taiwanese while only 33 percent of the 18 to 22 group said so. When asked whether Taiwan should be unified with China, 32 percent of the 13 to 17 group favored the idea, compared to 46 percent in the group 18 to 22. If the trend continues, the so-called identity politics would be the main issue in Taiwan regardless of who wins the presidency.
How about the future of America? According to the 2000 Census released on March 17, non-Hispanic Caucasians made up of 70 percent of the population while 12.6 percent had Hispanic roots. African-Americans constituted 12.6 percent with Asians at 3.8 percent. The projection of 2050 suggests non-Hispanic whites would fall to 50 percent while Hispanics would increase to 24.4 percent. African-Americans will remain at 12.6 percent of the population and Asians will climb to 8 percent.
Samuel Huntington contributed an article titled “the Hispanic Challenge” to the March-April issue of Foreign Policy magazine. He warned: “The unprecedented inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, with two cultures and two languages.” Mr. Huntington’s claim might be an overreaction, but one thing is certain: The United States will in a few decades be a much different place than it is today.
Because of these major trends we should be careful about making judgments about any changes in the United States, Taiwan or any other country.

by Kim Seok-hwan

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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