Demographic Development in Light of the 21st Century Crises: a Theoretical Analysis

Demographic Development in Light of the 21st Century Crises:
a Theoretical Analysis

Klupt M.A.

Dr. Sci. (Econ.), Professor, St. Petersburg State University of Economics, St. Petersburg, Russia

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For citation:

Klupt M.A. Demographic Development in Light of the 21st Century Crises: a Theoretical Analysis. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2022. No 11. P. 15-24


The article discusses demographic development through the lens of COVID‑19 pandemic and migration crises of the 21st century. During such crises homeostatic mechanisms built in the demographic system cannot withstand exogenic shocks. Interdependence between demographic system and its social and natural environment intensifies. To comprehend development in the period of crisis it is necessary to apply systemic approach that focuses on feedback loops, cascade effects and vulnerabilities. The reasons why epidemiological transition theory failed to predict possibility of the pandemics similar in the scope and impacts to COVID‑19 are analyzed. While one of the versions of this theory views epidemiological transition as a process completed in the developed countries, others, in the wake of events, added new stages to epidemiological transition and failed to predict unexpected dramatic changes. This failure of epidemiological transition theory shows that pandemics and migration crises cannot be comprehended by stadial demographic theories for they are intended to describe smooth and long-term processes. In the period of crises, the discourse of weaponization of mass migration become more influential. Increasing flows of refugees do not fit well with ideas of extending ‘post-material’ and shrinking ‘material’ motivation of behaviour in general and demographic behaviour in particular. Pandemic, armed conflicts and large-scale forced migrations challenge the success stories so popular among social theorists in the last decades.

crisis; demographic system; forcible migration; COVID‑19 pandemic; epidemiological transition theory


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Content No 11, 2022