In teaching Australian Identities: Indigenous & Multicultural I include some big picture speculation about the future. I draw on Jeffrey Williamson’s 2003 Noel Butlin lecture on world factor migrations and demographic transitions. Williamson describes how 19th century migration was driven by the desire of the young to escape European overpopulation and poverty for the much higher living standards of the new countries of European settlement such as Australia and the United States (who thanks to the extermination of the indigenous population had labour shortages). Today it is Africa, and to lesser degree the Middle East, that are in the same position as 19th century Europe. In the long run I argue immigrants from Africa and the Middle East will become increasingly important in driving Australian population growth, as Asian living standards continue to rise, thus the Sri Lankan asylum-seekers are an artifact of old Asia not the new. A recent compilation of Gallup research supports this:
From its surveys in 135 countries between 2007 and 2009, Gallup finds residents of sub-Saharan African countries are most likely to express a desire to move abroad permanently. Thirty-eight percent of the adult population in the region — or an estimated 165 million — say they would like to do this if the opportunity arises. Residents in Asian countries are the least likely to say they would like to move — with 10% of the adult population, or roughly 250 million, expressing a desire to migrate permanently.
My other big picture material includes Robert Fogel’s projections of the 2040 world economy, which make much current political discussion seem trivial :
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