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-------------译者:妮在哪-审核者:龙腾翻译总管------------

A Russian fairy tale.

Will America or its authoritarian rivals dominate the 21st century? The answer may have as much to do with demography as with policy. Although we often fixate on military spending and GDP as markers of America’s position vis-à-vis China and Russia, a country’s demographic profile critically impacts its ability to generate that wealth and power. And if demography is indeed destiny, America’s geopolitical future looks pretty promising — so long as the country can navigate the dangers the world’s demographic future also holds.

美国或其威权独裁对手会支配主宰21世纪吗?答案可能既与人口统计学有关,也与政策有关。尽管我们经常把军费支出和GDP作为美国相对于中国和俄罗斯的地位的标志,但一个国家的人口结构却严重影响了其创造财富和提升国力的能力。如果人口结构确实是一个国家命运的定数的话,那么美国的地缘政治前景看起来相当有希望——只要其能够克服世界人口未来所面临的危险。

A country’s people are taproot of its power in many respects. A large working-age population serves as a source of military manpower. Far more important, a relatively young, growing and well-educated population is a wellspring of the economic productivity that underlies other forms of international influence. All things equal, countries with healthy demographic profiles can create wealth more easily than their competitors. They can also can direct a larger share of that wealth to geopolitical projects as opposed to pensions and health care.

一个国家的人民在许多方面都是其权力的直接推动者。大量的劳动适龄人口是军事人力的资源来源。更重要的是,相对年轻、日益增长和受过良好教育的人口是经济生产力的源泉,而经济生产力是构成其他国际影响力形式的基础。在同样的情况下,人口结构健康的国家比竞争对手更容易创造财富。他们还可以将更多的财富用于地缘政治项目,而不是在养老金和医疗保健项目上。

Countries with unhealthy demographic profiles will find it harder to remain economically competitive as their populations shrink and a smaller number of workers support a larger number of retirees. They will face agonizing guns-versus-butter tradeoffs that make it harder to undertake bold geopolitical ventures. When demographic problems become severe, they can exacerbate social and political strains, leading to crippling instability. And as it happens, America’s competitors are likely to face sharp demographic pressures in the coming decades.

因人口萎缩,较少的劳动力又要供养更多的退休人员,人口结构不健康的国家将很难保持经济竞争力。他们将面临两难的大炮与黄油权衡问题,这也让他们更难进行大胆的地缘政治博弈。当人口问题变得严重时,会加剧社会压力和政治紧张,导致严重的不稳定。而碰巧的是,美国的竞争对手很可能在未来的几十年里面临巨大的人口压力。

(译注:guns-versus-butter,大炮与黄油矛盾,大炮指军费开支,黄油指民用开支)

The legacy of China’s one-child policy will be a steadily shrinking population for generations, as the number of Chinese falls from 1.41 billion in 2017 to 1.36 billion in 2050 (according to figures provided by the United Nations), and then falls faster still to perhaps 1 billion by 2100. Meanwhile, China’s retirement-age population will jump starkly, according to statistics compiled by Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute, from 135 million in 2015 to almost 340 million by 2040, as its working-age population falls by roughly 100 million.

随着中国人口从2017年的14.1亿下降到2050年的13.6亿(根据联合国提供的数据),中国独生子女政策的后遗症将是几代人口的持续萎缩,到2100年还会更快地下降到大约10亿人。与此同时,美国企业研究所(American Enterprise Institute)的尼古拉斯·埃伯施塔特(Nicholas Eberstadt)编制的统计数据显示,中国的退休年龄人口将从2015年的1.35亿猛增到2040年3.4亿,而劳动适龄人口减少约1亿。

This demographic contraction will place tremendous stress on China’s economy, as old-age costs skyrocket and the number of productive workers shrinks. The slowing of Chinese growth that is already underway will become far more pronounced; Beijing’s debt problem will become worse as social expenditures rise and austerity becomes more politically difficult to pursue. The Chinese government will have fewer resources with which to continue its military buildup and implement major geo-economic projects like the Belt and Road Initiative. Not least, demographic trouble may well foster domestic upheaval, as the shortage of marriage-age females, challenges in providing for the wellbeing of retirees, and tapering off of economic growth test China’s social compact. We are accustomed to thinking of China as a rising power. Yet demographic decline is setting in, with potentially profound consequences.

随着养老金费用的飙升,生产力型人口的减少,这一人口萎缩将给中国经济带来巨大压力。已经开始放缓发展的中国经济增长表现将更加明显;随着社会支出的增加和紧缩政策在政治上变得更加难以推行,北京的债务问题将变得更加严重。中国政府将有更少的资源来继续其军事建设和实施重大的地缘经济项目,如一带一路倡议。特别是人口问题很可能会引发国内动荡,因为适婚年龄女性的短缺、退休人员福利保障方面的挑战以及经济增长缩减都将考验中国的社会契约。我们习惯于把中国看作是一个正在崛起的大国。然而,随着人口数量的下降,可能会产生深远的影响。

Russia faces its own problems. Its population is around 144 million today. But due to numerous factors — the lingering demographic damage caused by World War II, low birth rates and levels of immigration, and a relatively short life expectancy — the population may be as small as 119 million by 2050. The working-age population will decline from 60 percent to less than 50 percent of the overall population during this same period, compounding Russia’s long-term economic decline. The implications are already becoming clear: Russia will face Hobson’s a choice between pouring scarce resources into old-age pensions and inviting the political tumults that austerity could easily bring. Nuclear weapons and the capacity to create mischief through information warfare will keep Moscow in the game, but Russia’s underlying geopolitical potential will continue bleeding away.

俄罗斯自身也面临着众多问题。其人口目前约为1.44亿。但由于许多因素——第二次世界大战对人口造成的持续破坏、低出生率和移民水平以及相对较短的预期寿命——到2050年,其人口可能会减少到1.19亿。在同一时期,劳动适龄人口占总人口的比例将从60%下降到不到50%,这加剧了俄罗斯经济的长期衰退。其影响已经变得越来越明显:俄罗斯将面临霍布森的选择(指别无选择),要么将稀缺的资源投入养老金,要么推行很容易引发政治动荡的财政紧缩政策。核武器和通过信息战制造伤害的能力将使莫斯科继续身处这场游戏,但俄罗斯潜在的地缘政治潜力将不断流失。

-------------译者:碧天云外-审核者:龙腾翻译总管------------

The U.S. looks pretty good in comparison. Thanks to a relatively healthy birth rate and high levels of immigration, the U.S. population is slated to increase from 324 million in 2017 to 390 million in 2050. The retirement of the baby boomers will make America a significantly older society, as the proportion of retirees to working age individuals nearly doubles by 2060. But the overall growth of the population will cushion the effects of this shift, and the stresses America faces should not be nearly as severe as those its rivals confront. As a study by the RAND Corporation concludes, “Barring catastrophe, the United States appears likely to have the demographic and economic resources to remain the world’s indispensable nation through at least 2050.”

相比之下,美国看上去很不错。归功于相对健康的出生率与大量移民,美国人口必将从2017年的3.24亿增长至2050年的3.9亿。由于退休者与工作年龄人口的比例到2060年将接近翻倍,“婴儿潮”时期出生的退休者将明显使美国成为老龄化社会。然而人口总增长会缓解这种转变的势头,并且美国所面临的压力远不如其对手严重。兰德公司的一项研究显示,“除非灾难降临,至少在2050年前,美国很可能凭借其人口和经济优势,继续担当世界上不可或缺国家的重任。”

If the U.S. can hold its ground vis-à-vis Russia and China over the near- and medium-term, its long-term prospects thus seem quite promising. Yet there are also three demography-related dangers the U.S. will have to address.

如果美国相对俄中两国能够一如既往,挺过近期和中期,其长期的前景相当光明。不过,仍有三项人口相关的危机需要美国去解决。

First, if America is likely to be in relatively good shape demographically three decades from now, many of its traditional allies will not be. Important partners such as Japan, Germany and many Western European countries will have shrinking, aging populations. Japan in particular: Its population is projected to decline from 127 million in 2017 to 109 million in 2050 and keep falling thereafter. As a result, America’s core alliances will be less of a force-multiplier in the future than they are today. This will place an ever-higher premium on deepening ties with countries such as India, whose population is set to grow from 1.3 billion in 2017 to 1.7 billion by 2050.

第一,假如今后三十年内,美国人口状况都相对良好,其许多传统盟友未必如此。重要的伙伴如日本、德国及许多西欧国家将面临人口萎缩,老龄化现象。尤其是日本:其人口规模预计会从2017年的1.27亿缩减至2050年的1.09亿,且之后仍将继续下降。结果就是,美国的核心盟国与今天相比,未来难以担当“力量倍增器”的重任。这将加深与某些国家前所未有的紧密联系,例如印度,其人口规模将从2017年的13亿增长至2050年的17亿。

Second, America’s demographic future is more fragile than the numbers indicate. Projected increases in population are heavily dependent on one of the country’s hidden underrated advantages: high levels of immigration. But if current trends are any indication, the U.S. could easily squander its demographic advantages by enacting draconian immigration restrictions or simply destroying its image as a country that welcomes ambitious newcomers. Conversely, if the proportion of immigrants continues to rise while the white population shrinks, xenophobia and race-based politics could become more common and more toxic. If the U.S. is to keep its demographic edge, it will have to find ways of reconciling two competing imperatives: refreshing the population through immigration while preserving social and political stability.

第二,与列出的数据相比,美国人口发展的未来更为脆弱。预计中的人口增长严重依赖于本国一个被低估的隐形优势:大量的移民。假如当前的趋势是某种预警,通过颁布严格的移民限制法令,或者仅仅是摧毁美国欢迎雄心勃勃移民者的形象,都会使美国轻易地丧失其人口优势。但相反地,如果移民的比例持续上升而白种人口萎缩,排外和种族政治可能变得更加普遍,更加有害。如果美国意图保持其人口优势,当务之急是必须找到调和这组矛盾之道:利用移民更新人口,同时保持社会与政治稳定。

Third, the U.S will face the challenge of dealing with declining — and potentially desperate — rivals. We often think of rising powers as aggressive powers, but declining powers can be more aggressive still. History is full of examples of countries, such as Germany in the run-up to World War I, that decided to take enormous geopolitical risks because they believed that their window of opportunity was closing.

第三,美国将面对来自日益衰落,乃至绝望的对手国的挑战。我们常以为崛起的势力具有攻击侵略性,然而衰落的势力攻击性更强。历史上有无数的先例,例如德国在一战前夕,就甘愿承担巨大的地缘政治风险,因为当时他们相信其机会之窗正在关闭。

If Chinese and Russian leaders come to believe that their future looks grim, they may act more aggressively in hopes of achieving gains while they still have the ability to do so. This dynamic could make crises involving Taiwan, the Baltic states, and other hotspots more likely — and more dangerous. American policy makers will therefore need to maintain the military and other strengths necessary to deter revisionist actions, while also avoiding unnecessarily provocative behavior that puts Moscow and Beijing in “now or never” situations. Demography may well ultimately help the U.S. win its competitions with China and Russia, but it may also make those rivalries increasingly fraught along the way.

假如中俄两国领导人渐渐认为其国前景黯淡,他们可能会在仍有能力这么做时,表现得更具攻击性以期待获取利益。这种行为很可能会在台湾、波罗的海国家以及其他热点地区制造危机,也就更加危险。因此,美国的政策制定者需要保持其军事及其他必要的力量,制止改变现状的行为,同时避免刺激莫斯科与北京,而令其认为处于“机不可失,失不再来”的境地。人口统计结构可能最终会助美国在与中俄的竞争中取胜,但也可能会使这场竞争变得越发危机重重。

[By Hal Brands]

【本文作者:哈尔·布兰茨】