WEDNESDAY, 6 AUGUST 2014

Why is Gaza so young?

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As both sides seem to be drawing back from continued conflict and as perhaps we are seeing the end of the latest violence in Gaza, it is an apposite time to look at the demographic reality of Gaza. Although the numbers of civilians killed and wounded cannot be precisely known (and I am surprised how many reports have accepted the Gaza Health Ministry statistics at face value) there are undoubtedly many, many civilians who have lost their lives. Among those civilians there are large numbers of children, and this number may be exacerbated by Gaza’s unusual demographic structure.  In short, Gaza is home to a very young population.  According to the New Scientist:

"...the Gaza Strip's population of roughly 1.8 million has an unusually large proportion of children. Figures for 2013 from Index Mundi, the internet source of country data, show that that 43.5 per cent of the population is aged 14… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

SUNDAY, 3 AUGUST 2014

Chinese ‘baby boom’ yet to materialise

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When China relaxed its one child policy late last year onlookers around the world expected a cultural shift.  The Chinese government and investors predicted a baby boom, with government officials making the application process cumbersome lest too many people apply at once. 

However, neither baby boom nor cultural shift has yet materialised and China will fall well short of the 1m-2m extra births that Wang Peian, the deputy director of the National Health Family Planning Commission, had predicted. Yang Wenzhuang, of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said about 271,600 couples had so far applied to have a second child, with permission given to 241,300.

Many point to too much bureaucracy as one cause.  The Economist notes that in the eastern city of Jinan married couples must provide seven different documents, including statements from employers certifying their marital status.  Some also report propaganda campaigns against having a second child by… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

WEDNESDAY, 30 JULY 2014

Dijon: Elderly-Friendly

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With many countries in the world facing a growing number of elderly, cities such as Dijon in Eastern France are trying to improve the lives of their retired citizens.  According to this article from the Guardian Weekly:

“As studies have shown, movement is a key factor in ageing well and isolation should be avoided at all costs. ‘A little activity does a huge amount to slow ageing,’ says Christiane Gindre, a pensioner and member of the Age Observatory in Dijon. This city in eastern France is working to ensure that planners and other public services make full allowance for such factors.”

While cities like Dijon have tried to cope with more retiree by laying on more services: meals, clubs, home-helps and specialist amenities, some advocates of the elderly argue that this is not enough. Dijon city council’s senior policy manager, Pierre-Olivier Lefebvre, states that recent retirees may want the services, but… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 28 JULY 2014

Young vs Old is not the way politics has to be

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Have current demographical challenges piqued young against old in a battle for resources, pensions or lower tax rates?  Do we see politics in terms of 'what's in it for my generation'?  It is of some concern that the Centre for Intergenerational practice in the United Kingdom comments that:

Changes in society have led to generations frequently becoming segregated from one another, this separation can lead to unrealistic and negative stereotypes, and a decrease in positive exchanges between them. Yet these separated generations do have resources of value to each other and furthermore share areas of concern. 

It does seem that Western culture in particular puts much less emphasis on learning from the respected wisdom of the elderly than other cultures, and supporting each other through all stages of life. We can also find ourselves using descriptions of young people which are perhaps unfair and cynical towards them such as ‘lazy’ or… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

SATURDAY, 26 JULY 2014

Russian emigration soars

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It appears as if Russia’s previously anaemic fertility rate is rising from its very low levels of a decade ago (1.7 births per woman in 2013, under 1.2 in 1999). Furthermore, its mortality rate is stabilising so that the Russian population is actually naturally increasing for the first time in twenty years (all of this according to Wikipedia). We reported on this a few months ago, and I concluded at the time by stating that:

“So while the current demographic outlook of Russia is much better than it was five or six years ago, it seems as if the medium-long term is still less than healthy. Russia will have to rely on immigration to grow or stabilise its population, and that in itself is problematic.” 

The problems I was talking about was assimilation of large numbers of immigrants, but there may be a more immediate demographic problem to… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

WEDNESDAY, 23 JULY 2014

Jewish births “Trending Upwards” in Israel

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With the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza showing no signs of abating, despite the best efforts of the UN Secretary-General, I thought that this piece from the Jerusalem Post dealing with Israeli demography was interesting and challenged many assumptions that I had.  The author is Barbara Sofer, a Jerusalem writer who serves as the Israel director of public relations for Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. She makes some interesting personal observations in the course of explaining her interview with one Yoram Ettinger, a former Israeli ambassador.  Sofer explains that the conversation took a turn that she was not expecitng:

“I expect us to discuss Diaspora-Israel relations, but instead we talk mostly about babies – who is having them and why.

When it comes to Middle East demography, Ettinger maintains that most of us have our facts backwards. We’ve become so accustomed to thinking… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 21 JULY 2014

New Zealand among most ethnically diverse countries

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New Zealand has a uniquely ethnically diverse society, according to a recently released New Zealand demographical report.  I was surprised to learn that as many as one in four people living in New Zealand in 2013 was born in another country. In fact, Auckland (New Zealand’s largest city) is one the most immigrant-dependent cities in the world, with 39 percent of Aucklanders born overseas.

The report, entitled Our Futures: Te Pae Tawhiti, was released by an expert panel of the Royal Society of New Zealand and analyses data from the 2013 Census along with other sources. 

In particular, it reports a rapid growth in the numbers of New Zealanders who are Asian.  Making up just under 12 percent of the population, these communities are now significantly larger than Pasifika communities (7.4 percent), despite the largest Pacific population in the world residing in Auckland. New Zealand is also increasingly turning its economic focus… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

THURSDAY, 17 JULY 2014

Niue: A dying Island

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Niue is a tiny island in the South Pacific, lying to the south of Samoa, to the East of Tonga and about 2,400 km north of New Zealand. About 1400 people live on “The Rock”, an island about 2/3rds the size of the Isle of Wight, or three times larger than the Island of Manhattan. It is a small, thinly populated island, one of many throughout the Pacific. However, this is not the end of the story. While 1400 live on Niue, about 15 times that number live in New Zealand. According to Wikipedia, 90-95% of all Niuean people live in Aotearoa. Nieu is an extreme example of the incredible mobility of people in the late 20th century. It may also be an example of a people that has not died out, but has simply moved on (I will not say to greener pastures because I could conceivably be accused of bias…)

The click here to read whole article and make comments


 

TUESDAY, 15 JULY 2014

Japan faces pilot shortage

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The latest demographic news from Japan is good news for pilots, but bad news for travellers. Thousands of flights in Japan could be cancelled this summer because the country’s rapidly aging population has led to a nationwide shortage of pilots. 

Is this the first of many such shortages to come in the nation’s future due to its rapidly aging population?   Worryingly, we have often described Japan’s demographic outlook as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ as a lot of the Western world is heading the same way – could this be a situation much of the world soon faces?

The New Zealand Herald reports that:

Peach Aviation, a Japan-based budget airline, has said that more than 2000 flights between May and October may be affected by pilot shortages. It has already cancelled 448 flights since last month.

Vanilla Air, another low-cost carrier, recently announced the cancellation of… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

SUNDAY, 13 JULY 2014

Human Trafficking to China

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We’ve mentioned before on this blog the horrific human trafficking that is going on into China at least in part due to that country’s one child policy. That blogpost discussed the women being abducted from North Korea, but a recent piece by the AFP shows that it is not limited to that country. Instead, women in all of the countries that neighbour China are in danger of being whisked away to the Middle Kingdom and sold into sexual slavery.  As the AFP notes, it is all about the gender imbalance haunting China due to its horrific one-child policy:

“Vulnerable women in countries close to China -- not only Vietnam but also North Korea, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar -- are being forced into marriages in the land of the one-child policy, experts say.

China suffers from one of the worst gender imbalances in the world as… 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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