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Thursday, January 11, 2018

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Question: At the present time, the population of some countries includes a relatively large number of young adults, compared with the number of older people. Do the advantages of this situation outweigh the disadvantages?

A 'youth bulge', where the population of 15-25 year-olds is unusually large, is indeed a feature of the demographics of quite a number of countries. In my view, it is almost overwhelmingly a disadvantageous situation.

In the short term, there are a few positives. A youth bulge does represent a large pool of energetic labor, and hopefully there are few extra demands on health services, or housing, since they often live at home. That, however, is just about where the upside ends.

The bulge puts pressure on education facilities, particularly in secondary and tertiary institutions. An untrained, poorly skilled youth simply make it more difficult to accommodate them into the workforce. As they grow up, and find partners and start their own families, there will inevitably be an increased demand for new housing accomodation.

Employment is the big bugbear. In some countries like India, there is enough work to give the extra willing workers some kind of job, although they may be exploited due to an oversupply of labour. In other countries they have no such luck, and this often leads to civil unrest, even in otherwise stable environments. For instance in Spain, where youth unemployment reaches something like fifty per cent, they are either forced to emigrate to find work, or fall prey to extremist elements. The same is true across much of North Africa, parts of Central Africa, and western parts of Asia. Idleness and frustration breed discontent and revolution and marauding gangs.

The fact is we need the right proportion of older workers. A youth bulge upsets the balance of the experienced and skilled vis-a-vis the young guns. Even in the military, older grizzled soldiers are needed to lead, guide and provide training, and apply their wisdom in deployments. This was borne out in Afghanistan, Vietnam and other places. Youth lack wisdom and makes avoidable mistakes.

Thus, while there may be some slight temporary gains, in the long run a youth bulge creates problems and puts a country at a severe disadvantage.

About 330 words

Would be very difficult to write this in 40 minutes!
Any comments much appreciated!

Taking a more extreme position is actually easier! - more focused, and gives time to develop:

A 'youth bulge', where the population of 15-25 year-olds is unusually large, is indeed a feature of the demographics of quite a number of countries. I see no advantages to this situation at all.

In the short term, the bulge puts pressure on education facilities, particularly in secondary and tertiary institutions. Extra temporary classrooms are needed, and extra temporary staff. All this costs money, which may not be available. If educational resources are stretched and compromised, if the pool of youth then lacks sufficient skills and training, it makes it harder to accommodate the extra numbers into the workforce, which bodes ill for their future, the future of their families, and any offspring.

Employment is the big bugbear. In some countries like India, there is enough work to give the extra willing workers some kind of job, although they may be exploited due to an oversupply of labour. In other countries they have no such luck, and this often leads to civil unrest, even in otherwise stable environments. For instance in Spain, where youth unemployment reaches something like fifty per cent, they are either forced to emigrate to find work, or fall prey to extremist elements. The same is true across much of North Africa, parts of Central Africa, and western parts of Asia. Idleness and frustration breed discontent and revolution and marauding gangs.

The fact is we need the right proportion of older workers. A youth bulge upsets the balance of the experienced and skilled vis-a-vis the young guns. Even in the military, older grizzled soldiers are needed to lead, guide and provide training, and apply their wisdom in deployments. This was borne out in Afghanistan, Vietnam and other places, where young conscripts on their first deployment had far higher casualty rates than older troops. It was the young “heroes” who died. Too many young ones does not help.

Thus, in both short and long run, a youth bulge creates problems and puts a country at a severe disadvantage.

Finally just two big body paragraphs for under 290 words: easier in the exam.

A 'youth bulge', where the population of 15-25 year-olds is unusually large, is indeed a feature of the demographics of quite a number of countries. I see no advantages to this situation at all.

In the short term, the bulge puts pressure on education facilities, particularly in secondary and tertiary institutions. Extra temporary classrooms are needed, and extra temporary staff. All this costs money, which may not be available. If educational resources are stretched and compromised, if the pool of youth labor, the mass of school and college leavers and graduates, then lacks sufficient skills and training, it makes it harder to accommodate the extra numbers into the workforce, which bodes ill for their future, the future of their families and offspring, and the outlook for society as a whole.

Employment is the big bugbear. In some countries like India, there is enough work to give the extra willing workers some kind of job. In other countries they have no such luck, and this often leads to civil unrest, even in otherwise stable environments. For instance in Spain, where youth unemployment reaches something like fifty per cent, they are either forced to emigrate to find work, or fall prey to extremist, separatist, and revolutionary elements. The same is true across much of North Africa, parts of Central Africa, and western parts of Asia. Idle, discontented young adults, who feel disadvantaged, frustrated, and angry, breed street protests, uprisings or marauding gangs and may fight brutally to overthrow the existing regime in search of a better life. Such are the risks of the bulge where it brings about youth under-employment.

Thus, in both short and long run, a youth bulge creates problems and puts a country at a severe disadvantage.

Band seven stipulates avoiding over-generalization, so (toned down with 'may' ,'might', 'often'):

A youth bulge, where the population of young adults is unusually large, is indeed a feature of the demographics of quite a number of countries. I cannot think of any way in which this situation could be of significant medium to long term benefit.

Employment is often the big bugbear. In some countries like India, there is enough work to give the extra willing workers some kind of job. In other countries they may have no such luck, and this may lead to civil unrest, even in otherwise stable environments. For instance in Spain, where youth unemployment reaches something like fifty per cent, they might either emigrate to find work, or even fall prey to separatist, and revolutionary elements. The same is true across much of North Africa, parts of Central Africa, and western parts of Asia. A youth bulge may well bring under-employment which in turn becomes the breeding ground for political upsets, violent protests and extremism. It is inherently a risky situation.

The other issue is sustainability. A youth bulge implies an overall increase in population both now and on down the generations. We already have a worldwide population explosion, with numbers trebling over the last seventy years, with lasting consequences in terms of deforestation, over-grazing, desertification, over-irrigation, and over-use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. For instance, a British government minister recently stated that loss of soil fertility was fast reaching a tipping point. We are increasingly vulnerable to any disturbance in the environment, be it global warming, pestilence, drought, or blight. There are, I believe, few countries left where a youth bulge can be sustainably accommodated.

The disadvantages of a youth bulge are overwhelming.

dear Simon
I was wondering if you could write on book 11 first writing about pie chart in 6 different part of the world ?
it was really confusing

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