Seven Revolutions Forum: Social and Political Consequences of the Middle East Population Boom
For GSI’s first Seven Revolutions Forum of the year, entitled “Population Boom or Bomb,” Dr. Steven Kull and Dr. Jon Alterman addressed the youth bulge and current attitudes in the Middle East.
Dr. Kull, a political psychologist and Director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) and the Center on Policy Attitudes (COPA) at the University of Maryland, presented recent findings of opinion polls taken throughout the Middle East.
The results show that the perceived problems with the U.S. are not its values, but rather its policies. Also key to Dr. Kull’s studies is the realization that negative attitudes towards America are not intrinsic and are subject to variation. By gearing policy to a declining older elite demographic, the U.S. is losing an opportunity to appeal to a large and growing youth demographic.
Dr. Alterman, Director of the CSIS Middle East Program, discussed the demographic trends that will shape the Middle East over the next 50 years. As opposed to many Western and industrialized nations, Middle Eastern nations are getting younger. This ‘youth glut’ will present a myriad of problems unless governments can nurture this demographic by creating opportunities and incentives geared towards making the youth productive members of their respective societies.