Do children have to be so expensive?

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A significant worry for parents-to-be is how many childen they can afford to look after well.  It is a noble concern.  Yet, it is also worth remembering that modelling a 'keeping up with the Jones'' mentality and providing your children with too much is actually detrimental to them - so maybe at least some of your worry is needless.  

Presents somehow sneak their way into being a significant focus for adults and children alike at Christmas time especially.  I'm not overly enjoying watching television at the moment because of the constant advertisements about another "one day only sale" (which is actually on again in two days time!) that blare their way into our living room and our family consciousness.  You might want to re-consider your focus this Christmas season in light of this expert research:

Habitual overindulgence by parents in the long term can have a detrimental effect on… click here to read whole article and make comments



Remembering the dark story of Peru’s population control campaign

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I just stumbled across a documentary about the 300,000 women and 22,000 men forcibly or deceitfully sterilised by population control officials in the government of President Alberto Fujimori in the 1990s.

We can all learn lessons from this ghastly abuse of human rights. Earlier this year the former president, who is currently serving a 25-year jail sentence for crimes against humanity, was exonerated of blame for the sterilization program. The prosecutor said that he could find no evidence that women had been systematically coerced.

The tears of the women in the documentary suggest otherwise. A committee in the US House of Representatives heard evidence in 1998 that the Fujimori government had given doctors quotas for sterilizations. If they failed to reach their goals, then their contracts might be terminated. “Other abuses, such as lack of informed consent, pressure to consent, bonuses per woman sterilized, and trading food for consent, were probably… click here to read whole article and make comments



Rest home residents making a difference

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We have often discussed on this blog the need to utilise our growing aging population.  They have so much talent and wisdom to share, and their community involvement makes a difference to both their lives and the beneficiaries of such projects.  

Today we have a joyful Advent story to share of rest home residents doing just that at a Christchurch primary school.  Click here to watch the TVNZ news clip about the project which screened on New Zealand news recently.  

The residents of a local retirement village (already infamous for their take on the 'Happy' video clip which brought their vivaciousness and love of life to the school principal's attention in the first place!) are volunteering to help children on the school's reading programme.  Without them the school would not be able to offer one-on-one reading help to these children, and the volunteers say that they get a lot out… click here to read whole article and make comments



Canadians fighting for family

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We need to wake up if we wish to preserve the traditional family structure, as it erodes further.  As one example, the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada just released a new info-graphic giving an overview of how the traditional family is being transformed in Canada.  For forty years now, there has been a decline in married couples as a portion of all census families there.  In 2011, 67 per cent of Canadian families were headed by a married couple.  That was down from 70 per cent in 2001, and 92 per cent in 1961. 

The change was mostly due to a large increase in “common-law couples”.   Although common- law relationships often lead to marriages, they are generally more short-lived and dissolve more frequently than marriages.  In 2011, for the first time in Canadian history, there were also more single-person households than couple households with children. The average number of children per family decreased from 2.7 in 1961 to 1.9… click here to read whole article and make comments



Ageing population: some economic silver linings?

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The ageing population of many countries in Western Europe and East Asia is a theme that we have discussed on many occasions on this blog.  A larger proportion of elderly people in a society threatens to place a large economic  burden on pensions and welfare structures that were designed on the assumption that each successive generation would be larger than the last (much like a Ponzi scheme…) However, Sarah Willis has written an interesting article at Open Democracy where she argues that the picture of an ageing society and economy (in this case, the United Kingdom) is not all doom and gloom. 

In short, she argues that those 65 years and older should not be seen purely as an economic burden. Instead we should learn to value our seniors more and see them as a source of experience that is extremely useful for the economy as a whole.  In fact, the… click here to read whole article and make comments



Should immigrants be forced to live in rural New Zealand?

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New Zealand is a country with a population of around 4.5 million people which is increasingly concentrated in its major cities. According to Wikipedia, 72 per cent of New Zealanders live in its 16 largest urban areas, and 52 per cent live in its four largest cities: Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Hamilton.  Nearly a third of the population live in the Auckland urban area: a proportion of a country’s population contained in one city which is nearly unheard of in the world (aside from city-states of course and maybe the Buenos Aires urban area in Argentina…are there any other examples that you can think of?)

I’m a proud Aucklander, (the rest of the country sometimes describes us as “Dorklanders” or “Jafa”s – the latter an acronym for “Just Another F… Aucklander”, but they’re just jealous) and I love my city, but the concentration of people in our isthmus and islands brings with it… click here to read whole article and make comments



What do we know about our aging world?

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During the next 5 years, for the first time in history, the number of people in the world aged 65 years and older will outnumber children aged 5 years or younger.  According to recent health research published in The Lancet medical journal, this is what we know:


1.  Population ageing is the biggest driver of a substantial international rise in the prevalence of chronic conditions, such as dementia, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and diabetes.

2.  Advances in medicine and socio-economic development mean that people are less likely to die from infections or diseases, so are more likely to be living with chronic conditions over a long period of time.

3.  An increase in the prevalence of chronic conditions will not only strain health systems but will also have economic implications.  Therefore, encouraging healthy lifestyles is essential. Only then can we try to ensure… click here to read whole article and make comments



Swiss voters reject drastic immigration cuts

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Continuing with the immigration news coming out of Europe this week, Swiss voters have rejected a proposal to cut net immigration to no more than 0.2% of the population a year.  This would have required the government to cut current levels of immigration from 80,000 people per year to about 16,000 people per year. 

This referendum was under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy whereby citizens can force a referendum if they can muster enough signatures of support (50,000 in 100 days).  In February, a similar exercise in direct democracy resulted in the country voting to re-introduce immigration quotas, which effectively opts out of an EU free movement agreement.  The Swiss government has still to implement that referendum which has apparently thrown “relations with the EU into turmoil”.

Coming less than a year after that restriction on immigration, supporters of the latest measure argued that restricting immigrant numbers would reduce pressure on… click here to read whole article and make comments



Immigration in Germany and the United Kingdom

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The last couple of posts have looked at the impact on immigration upon two of Europe’s most powerful countries: Germany and the United Kingdom.  Immigration looms large for both countries: in Germany because it needs immigrants to support its under-reproducing population and in the UK because the rise of Ukip has made it a 2015 election issue. (More bad news for David Cameron’s government on this front: the latest figures show that the promised goal of net migration below 100,000 a year by 2015 is a no-hoper. Net migration for the 12 months to June 2014 was at 260,000, higher than when the current government took office.)

It is interesting to look at the polling data for both countries to see how a sample of the German and British people view immigration. Luckily for us, on behalf of the Guardian, Ipsos Mori has conducted such… click here to read whole article and make comments



Could computers replace our shrinking workforce?

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Today, more and more jobs are aided by computers.  One could be forgiven for wondering why the world’s shrinking workforce (due to shrinking fertility rates) is a problem at all.  Could we not just bring in more computers and more automation to perform the jobs of the many workers we rely on for goods and services?  Only this week, New Zealand's new leader of the opposition, Andrew Little, pledged a commission to look at the future of work and prepare for the impact of automation and technology on jobs and job security.  It is not only factories that now use automated systems, but architects, pilots, doctors and other such highly educated professionals. 

An interesting critique in The Wall Street Journal of the effects of widespread automation on the human brain and on the quality of work being done in numerous increasingly automated industries suggests over-reliance on machines isn't a wise or tenable… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Welcome to Demography Is Destiny. We launched this to counter two media memes: that humans are a cancer which is destroying our planet and that world population is spiralling to unsustainable levels. The real story is that intelligent and inventive human will rise to the challenge of climate change and that our real problem is the coming demographic winter. The editors of Demography is Destiny are Marcus and Shannon Roberts, who live in Auckland, New Zealand. Send them your comments and suggestions. 

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