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JSPES, Vol. 37, No. 4 (Winter 2012)
pp. 468-532

Popular Uprising in the Southwest Pacific? A Demographic Study

Julian Droogan, Karina Guthrie, Vincent Williams

Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism (PICT) Macquarie University

This paper examines whether the underlying demographic factors that precipitated the wave of popular uprisings across the Middle East, popularized as the “Arab Spring,” can be used to predict the likelihood of similar grassroots uprisings occurring through the chain of islands to Australia’s north, sometimes called the “Arc of Instability”. The paper examines demographic factors such as population age structure and growth rates, youth literacy rates and fertility rates to determine whether demographic modernization is underway in the region. Emmanuel Todd and Youssef Courbage have argued that, when coupled with the presence of a youth bulge, the process of demographic modernization signaled by a rapid increase in literacy, falling birth rates and a decrease in the widespread custom of endogamy can lead to a transformation of the political system, a spreading wave of democratization, and the change of subjects into active citizens potentially leading to popular uprising. Overall, the present paper finds that although countries in the Arc are in broad conformity with the youth bulge and demographic modernization models, there are a series of extenuating factors specific to the region, such as access to emigration, communication infrastructure, geography and population size that make it unlikely that a mass regional mobilization will occur.