Cuba: another country facing demographic collapse

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Another country, another slow-motion demographic collapse. This NYTimes article highlights low birthrates, ageing population and impending demographic collapse in Cuba: another nation to add to the growing list of Western Europe and East and South-East Asia. If something doesn’t change, Cuba’s demographic future is a bleak one of decline:

“Cuba already has the oldest population in all of Latin America. Experts predict that 50 years from now, Cuba’s population will have fallen by a third. More than 40 percent of the country will be older than 60.

The demographic crisis is both an economic and a political one. The aging population will require a vast health care system, the likes of which the state cannot afford. And without a viable work force, the cycle of flight and wariness about Cuba’s future is even harder to break, despite the country’s halting steps to open itself up to the outside world.”

click here to read whole article and make comments



China’s illegal children

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Last week’s announcement by the Chinese Government that it was replacing the one child policy with a two child policy brought to light something that I hadn’t considered before: the legal limbo of “illegal” children. This NYTimes article is an excellent, disturbing piece that highlights the difficulties faced by children born without the relevant authorities’ permission. The article centres on Li Xue, a 22-year old from Beijing, who was the second daughter in her family and has been made to pay for her parent’s “crime”.

“‘Li Xue is a Chinese citizen,’ her mother, Bai Xiuling, said in an interview. ‘But nobody acknowledges her existence. Only her family does.’

The second daughter of a blue-collar family in southern Beijing, Ms. Li was born contrary to the rules that have limited most urban couples to one child. Like quite a few such ‘illicit household’ children, she grew… click here to read whole article and make comments



The one child policy is dead!

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A couple of times this year we have reported that the Chinese Government might be on the verge of relaxing its one child policy (see here and here). Well those reports have proved to be accurate, as Stuff reports, China hasdropped its one child policy and replaced it with a two-child policy:

“China will ease family planning restrictions to allow all couples to have two children after decades of the strict one-child policy, the ruling Communist Party said on Thursday (Friday NZ Time), a move aimed at alleviating demographic strains on the economy.

The policy is a major liberalisation of the country's family planning restrictions, already eased in late 2013 when Beijing said it would allow more families to have two children when the parents met certain conditions…

The announcement was made at the close of a key… click here to read whole article and make comments



Germany and Japan: on different immigration paths

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A few weeks ago I talked about the demographic issues facing Japan and how its Government is responding to a low birth rate and increasingly elderly society. Before that, I discussed how Germany is ameliorating similar demographic woes through immigration, and we've seen the footage of hundreds and thousands of migrants/refugees flooding into Germany on the news over the last few months.

Today we see these two stories coalesce as Japan has made it clear that while it will give money to help the crisis in the Middle East, it will not be admitting Syrian refugees. This is despite the fact that an influx of migrants would be one potential solution to a lack of young workers and taxpayers.

As the Guardian reports:

"Japan must improve the living standards of its own people before it can consider accepting Syrian refugees, the prime minister, Shinzo Abe said, as he announced $1.6bn in new assistance for… click here to read whole article and make comments



It shouldn’t be ground-breaking to say that women are not men

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The struggle to get more women into CEO jobs and boardrooms can seem like a puzzle where the pieces don’t quite fit together.  Juggling pressured work and young children can seem like squeezing a square peg into a round hole.  The sides grind against each making everyone wonder if there’s a better way.  This is exactly what Anne-Marie Slaughter has now come to appreciate in her new book ‘Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family’.  The book revises the approach she took in her highly popular 2012 Atlantic article ‘Why women still can’t have it all’ to make some really salient points about womanhood. She comments of her title that:

The reason behind “unfinished business” is that describes most working caregivers' lives, certainly working mothers. If you talk to a woman between 30 and 50 who is taking care of kids and holding down a job, she will say, “My entire life… click here to read whole article and make comments



Do we need fertility education?

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Professor Allan Pacey from the University of Sheffield is the UK’s first professor of andrology (the study of men’s health, particularly relating to the problems of the male reproductive system and urological problems that are unique to men). He has penned a call for greater awareness of matters to do with fertility in the UK’s Daily Telegraph. In short, he notes that our lifestyles and culture have changed so that we are on average having children later; unfortunately though, our reproductive systems have not changed at all. Our biology and our practice when it comes to having children are becoming increasingly out of step and people do not seem to be aware of it.

Prof Pacey observes the obvious, but increasingly forgotten, biological fact that male and female reproductive systems work differently. In short, because men produce sperm until death, men can father children… click here to read whole article and make comments



A poignant journey into aging

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The world is aging.  We mention the many facets of this demographic shift often on this blog, and the world is just beginning to come to terms with them and encourage higher fertility rates.  We would all do well to better understand the emotional and physical challenges the aging face, as such a high proportion of our society moves into this age bracket.  Sometimes I find the best way to enter into someone else’s daily reality is vicariously through a good novel.  I just read the 1971 novel Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, by Elizabeth Taylor, and found it to be a poignant insight in to the challenges of aging.

The reader shares the main character, Laura Palfrey’s, journey – the constraints, the vulnerabilities, the loneliness, the boredom and, at times, the feeling that you are no longer of ‘use’ to society… click here to read whole article and make comments



Water, water, everywhere

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One of the problems that the world's growing population will potentially face is a scarcity of drinking water in some areas. This concern is one of the factors that some neo-Malthusians cling to justify their calls for population control. In a similar way population growth in the 1960s was predicted to cause mass starvation in the world (remember Paul Ehrlich?) However, the green revolution in the latter part of the twentieth century means that there are now more people in the world than ever, but also less hunger and fewer people in extreme poverty! So much for condemning parts of the world (like India) to mass starvation...

Anyway, water is the new food – people are not going to starve in the near future, but they will die of thirst unless something is done. But… click here to read whole article and make comments



Christianity and sex

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Christopher Dawson is one of my favourite historians. He wrote in the middle of the twentieth century mainly about “meta-history”, in particular the relationship between faith, the state and civilisation. His work consistently reiterates his view that European civilisation is inseparable from Christian (Catholic) faith and when Europe loses that faith, it starts to lose its soul.

I have just finished reading one of his short books (only 40 pages long, more of an essay or pamphlet – do people write pamphlets anymore?) entitled Christianity and Sex. It was written in 1930 and was a defence of Christian morality at a time when that morality was coming under increasing attack. (It is worth noting that 1930 was also the year of the seventh Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church – a telling coincidence perhaps…)   As we know, attacks on Christian morality have only increased… click here to read whole article and make comments



Christian persecution increasing worldwide

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A new report from the Catholic group, Aid to the Church in Need, has documented the dramatic decline of Christian communities in a number of countries in recent years. This report, entitled Persecuted and Forgotten? A report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2013-2015, has found that if current trends continue, Christian survival in parts of Africa and the Middle East is threatened. The well-founded fear of genocide has resulted in an exodus of Christians from those areas of the world where Islamist groups are carrying out “religiously-motivated ethnic cleansing of Christians”. Iraq is predicted to be Christian-free within five years, while Syria has seen a mass-fleeing of its Christian communities. As the Guardian reports, up to 120,000 Christians fled Mosul and Ninevah in Iraq after Islamic State took over these cities in 2014. The principal findings of the report further note that:

“…increasing pressures… 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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