By Bruce Stokes, Director of Global Economic Attitudes, Pew Research Center

Special to Foreign Policy

By 2050, rapidly graying populations are likely to impose an unprecedented fiscal burden on the United States, many European countries, Japan, and South Korea. This aging is the topic of intense political, economic, and social welfare debates worldwide. But it may prove to be a problem with implications far wider than just national or even regional reach, posing profound foreign and security policy challenges and possibly undermining the ability of America and its allies to sustain current levels of military and development spending. All sorts of expenditures will be up for review — and prominent on the chopping block could be defense and foreign aid.

For example, “some European and rapidly aging East Asian states might conclude that they cannot afford to maintain a sizable military,” noted the U.S. National Intelligence Council in its report “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds.”

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