Major Economies Confront Shrinking Workforce

This module provides a roadmap to understanding primary drivers of change in the space, both through commercialization and national security.

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Resource List

These resources provide a baseline of understanding, but as space capabilities continue to evolve, new data will become available.


  • Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development: The OECD provides a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems. OECD works with governments to understand what drives economic, social and environmental change. They measure productivity and global flows of trade and investment. Analyzes and compares data to predict future trends. Set international standards on a wide range of topics, from agriculture and tax to the safety of chemicals. More information can be found at
  • World Economic Forum: The World Economic Forum is a non-profit organization that examines the interrelationship between global security issues, the Fourth Industrial Revolution currently in play, and the challenges that require a global solution. They release regular reports and articles on a variety of topics to include the aging global population and its impact on productivity. More information can be found at

Recent Publications and Journal Articles:

  • Our population is ageing, and it’s impacting our productivity: This article from iMF Direct and the World Economic Forum lays out the effects that an aging population—both because of longer life span and declining birth rates—have on the economy, governance, and society. There is an increased need for quality healthcare as people tend to have more medical issues as they age. There are fewer people producing goods and providing services, so productivity goes down. The article provides some ideas on how to address productivity losses, such as using automation to allow aging workers in labor-intensive jobs to continue working.
  • The United States Economy: Why such a Weak Recovery?: This paper prepared by Brookings identifies reasons why the U.S. economy did not rebound from the 2008-09 financial crisis. The authors found that falling state and local spending, a lack of recovery in residential construction due to the number of “underwater” mortgages and vacant housing units, and weak consumption due to real disposable income’s slow growth are the primary reasons for the slow recovery from the Great Recession.
  • The Sustainable Demographic Dividend – What do Marriage & Fertility have to do with the Economy?: The Sustainable Demographic Dividend contends that the long-term fortunes of the modern economy rise and fall with the family. The report focuses on the key roles marriage and fertility play in sustaining long-term economic growth, the viability of the welfare state, the size and quality of the workforce, and the profitability of large sectors of the modern economy.
  • Global Trends: Paradox of Progress: Trends will converge at an unprecedented pace to make governing and cooperation harder and to change the nature of power—fundamentally altering the global landscape. Economic, technological and security trends, especially, will expand the number of states, organizations, and individuals able to act in consequential ways. Within states, political order will remain elusive and tensions high until societies and governments renegotiate their expectations of one another. Between states, the post-Cold War, unipolar moment has passed and the post-1945 rules based international order may be fading too. Some major powers and regional aggressors will seek to assert interests through force but will find results fleeting as they discover traditional, material forms of power less able to secure and sustain outcomes in a context of proliferating veto players.
  • Engaging and Integrating a Global Workforce: The globalization of today’s workforce has not developed on its own, but rather through a set of interlinked forces. The greater openness of economies, the never-ending push by firms to support the bottom line via resource- and market- seeking efforts, the growth of labor migration and technological advancements have all played a role in globalizing the deployment of human capital. Understanding these factors and their underlying drivers is critical not only to understanding the current make-up of the global workforce, but also its future trajectory.

Other Resources:

  • Global Economic Imbalances Threaten Sustainable Development for All, Second Committee Hears as General Debate Begins: The world was facing an unprecedented array of global risks and negative trends from the refugee crisis and climate change to drug-resistant antibiotics and political upheaval, a renowned economist told the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) as it began its general debate.
    • Citation: “Global Economic Imbalances Threaten Sustainable Development for All, Second Committee Hears as General Debate Begins | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases.” United Nations. October 3, 2016.
  • An aging population and its economic implications: A phenomenon deeply troubling economists and policymakers is the aging global population. This is a major concern since it has numerous global economic and financial implications affecting economic growth, health care costs, and social support systems.

These materials were developed as an initiative of the Advanced Thinking in Homeland Security (HSx) curriculum at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

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