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  7:14:19 AM

World’s Refugee Population Grows

Last week it was World Refugee Day (does anyone know who authorises which cause gets which day? And are the same person who decides which cause of the week it is?). Unfortunately, this year the day is marked by a particularly sad statistic: for the first time since the World War II era, the world’s refugee population (including asylum seekers and internally-displaced persons) has passed the 50 million mark. (Of course that is, as a proportion of the global population much less than the level in the 1940s, but as a human tragedy it is quite as terrible.)

This is according to the global trends report released by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The press release states that:

“By the end of 2013, an estimated 51.2 million people worldwide were considered to be forcibly displaced due to… click here to read whole article and make comments

  2:34:02 PM

American Dream merely a fantasy

Are rags-to-riches stories really the birth-right of every American?  Maybe not.  New social mobility statistics certainly aren’t supporting the theory of the ‘American Dream’ – the long claimed ability to transcend one's circumstances and achieve greater success.  America is, in fact, less socially mobile than most developed countries. 

It is of concern to every country to try to understand the characteristics that we need to encourage in our societies to help the poor to rise and our children to do well. Social scientists are trying to discover just this to understand why America is not the ‘land of opportunity’ it should be.  Interestingly, an on-going Harvard study has found that

…some of the strongest predictors of upward mobility are correlates of social capital and family structure. For instance, high upward mobility areas tended to have… click here to read whole article and make comments

  8:55:58 AM

EU elections and demography

You have heard about the “seismic”, “shocking” and “bombshell” results from last month’s vote in Europe for the EU parliament. Many traditional, centrist parties lost ground and in France and in the UK, anti-EU parties (the Front National and UKIP respectively) received the most votes (around 25% in each case).

There have been different analyses of these election results, and it should be noted that the voter turnout was fairly low: 42% across Europe as a whole and less than 35% in the UK. However, one analysis caught my eye the other day, that of Reuven Brenner in the Asia Times Online. Mr Brenner draws in the demographic outlook of Europe to help explain what the election results mean. So, not surprisingly, I thought that it would be perfect to discuss here at Demography is Destiny!

Brenner begins by discussing the… click here to read whole article and make comments

  5:31:37 PM

A fascinating map of an ageing world

The map above, produced by the Bank of America, shows in bright pink the sections of the world where more than 20% of the population are over 65.  In 2010 only Italy, Germany and Japan are shaded bright pink.  But, as you can see, the pink sections of the map grow dramatically by 2100 to include much of the world.  

The number of people over the age of 60 is expected to double from 841 million in 2013, to over 2 billion by 2050, according to UN figures.  Unfortunately this is accompanied by falling global birth rates to below even replacement level in many countries.  Incredibly, the number of people over the age of 60 is set to exceed the number of children for the first time, by 2047.

The Business Insider Australia published the map, showing an increasing awareness among… click here to read whole article and make comments

  9:08:46 AM

A limit to Chinese “supercities”

In 2012 the number of city dwellers in China passed the number of Chinese living in the countryside for the first time in history.  By 2020, the Chinese Government is planning on the urban population to be 60% of the total Chinese population. (By way of contrast, according to the World Bank, urbanisation in the USA is about 82%, the UK is about 80% urbanised and India is about 31% urbanised.)

This increased urbanisation has of course led to the growth of cities, and certain Chinese cities are becoming very large indeed.  Beijing passed 21 million people last year and Shanghai is now home to about 24 million people.  These “Supercities” are now being viewed as problematic by the Chinese government and are being targeted by new regulation. According to the AFP, the Chinese President Xi Jingping has promised to impose… click here to read whole article and make comments

  8:24:22 AM

Education: the economic solution for a dying society?

Hello everyone! Go and take a look at this Economist article! If you love interactive maps of the world (I certainly do!) then you will love the map that they have prepared there for us. The map shows the total fertility rate (births per woman) of each country in the world. Blue countries are those with a fertility rate below the replacement rate (2.1 children per woman) beige countries are those with a “medium” fertility rate (2.1-2.49 children per woman) and red countries are those with a “high” fertility rate (above 2.5 children per woman). The blue countries are found mainly in Eurasia, North America and Australasia. The red countries are mainly found in Africa and the Middle East. The interactive nature of the map means that you can isolate countries according to fertility rate or zoom in on a continent… click here to read whole article and make comments

  11:49:27 AM

Have financial models changed forever?

The above chart shows the fast dropping working age population of Europe.  Paul Krugman of The New York Times recently suggested that these demographics - hugely different from the what the world has seen in the last few hundred years - mean we cannot expect our financial system to continue to behave in the same way it has before.  

Interest rates have been very low in New Zealand, where I live, for some time.  This was bad news when my husband and I were saving for our house deposit, but very good news when we bought a house.  There have been suggestions here that interest rates will soon rise sharply as the New Zealand economy recovers and they have a little bit already.  I am no financial analyst, but Krugman suggests that in fact lower interest rates might simply be a… click here to read whole article and make comments

  6:16:18 PM

You can work past 65 if you want!


75 is the new 65, so we should all keep working for longer


The idea of raising the retirement age is not popular – most people resent being told they must work for longer. But with life expectancies increasing and people enjoying higher quality of life at older ages, we face the prospect of older people being retired for the same amount of time as they were working, or longer.

Our research supports the decision to raise retirement ages, but also shows how we can stop relentlessly raising retirement ages by maximising the workforce available in younger generations.

According to conventional thinking, pension ages have to go up because there is not enough money in national budgets to continue the current level of benefits that pensioners receive. This is a very unpopular argument… click here to read whole article and make comments

  12:14:09 PM

Iran’s 14 point plan for population growth

It is a new reality around the world that fertility is a government issue and children must now be encouraged in case we end up with none at all in generations to come (or not come).  

Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has recently released a 14 point policy to speed up the country’s population growth and reverse its declining birth rate.  He called for the different institutions of the country to implement the plans with “precision, speed and strength.” In recent years the country has experienced one of the most steeply falling birth rates in the world (we recently wrote about Iran leading Muslim countries in fertility decline here).

It is a sign of the times that countries such as Iran need to write a comprehensive plan to encourage people to have families – something that it was taken for granted their parents… click here to read whole article and make comments

  8:08:43 AM

The village with no children


Today I want to share with you some poignant photos from the hamlet of La Ciénega in Ecuador. The photos appear in the NYTimes and visually describe a town that has no children. The photographer, Santiago Arcos, was intrigued by the thought of a town with no children and after being sent there by his editor, has returned to La Ciénega every two months or so. There doesn’t appear to be much there that one would need to return again and again:

“...11 souls now live in eight houses. There are many more people buried in the cemetery, whose rugged crosses are made from the same sturdy wood as the 300 abandoned homes that dot the hilly village. Children had been long gone. So, too, were the school and the church. Even the deer that sustained them have been… click here to read whole article and make comments


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