This is a continuation of my discussion of the types of cycles that human societies go through. The question discussed below is which of these typical cycles are longer in duration, which are mid-term, and which are short-term. This division into three broad categories is convenient as it is the mainstream way of thinking nowadays in some social sciences. For example, this division is common in economics and sometimes used in sociology.

Long-term cycles

The longest-term cycles are believed to be the economic cycles. They are closely connected to every civilization’s development. That includes all aspects of its life and growth: economy, demography, technology, and so on. All the factors of civilization’s evolution sway the economic power cycle and eventually result in a civilization accumulating and combining technological and scientific advances, population growth, social progress, military might and territory – all the elements of gaining economic power.

Technological cycles can also be separately construed as long-term. They were actually very long in prehistoric times when technological development was unusually slow. Extremely slow was technology adoption and technology transfer between civilizational clusters. It was hindered by many obstacles: distance, seas, oceans, and mountains. So not only technological cycles have been quite long, but they have also been spectacularly uneven between civilizations until the 19th-century globalization.

Mid-term cycles

The second category are mid-term cycles. These are mostly demographic cycles. They also have been quite long for millennia. However, recently population trends have been moving more and more quickly. Economic development and advances in medicine bring with them at first increased population growth, and then numbers stabilization.

Another example of mid-term cycles are trade cycles. People, countries, and civilizations tend to trade more when the globalization cycle is up, and they usually trade less when it’s down. If we look at the 19th, 20th, and 21st centurys’ statistics on global trade, we can see that these trade cycles can last for decades.

Sort-term cycles

Financial cycles are normally used as an example of short-term cycles. They are quite quick, especially if related to global capital and financial flows. They can last for about 5 to 10 years. Investments are the most volatile part of the economy, especially foreign portfolio investments. They move quite rapidly. Moreover, they react extensively to the expectations of the development of the world economy and trade. What is more, investors try to anticipate where the world economy is moving, so they usually act even more hastily trying to beat forecasts or trends. That’s why it makes this type of cycles particularly volatile.

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All in all, there can be distinguished three broad categories of cycles depending on their length: short-term, mid-term, and long-term. However, all of them are interconnected. When there are changes happening in one type of cycle, they can actually lead to the start of the cycle of another type.