Which generation is the best?

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I am at the older end of the generation known as the “millennials” – those born roughly between 1980 and 1997 who are now between 18 and 35 years old. The generation older than the millennials is called “generation x” (roughly 35-50 years old), the next older is the “baby boomers” (roughly 50-70) and the one older than that is the “silent generation” (70-87 years old). Those names are all very American-centric and arbitrary in their dividing lines, but they do help to delineate between age-groups who grew up with very different technological and social environments from their predecessors and their successors.

With that in mind, it is interesting to read of the Pew Research Center’s latest polling on generational attitudes. The survey, which contained information from interviews with over 3,000 respondents, found that millennials do not have a very high opinion of their… click here to read whole article and make comments



China’s economic growth plan: more babies please

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In a couple of months China's 13th five-year plan will be sent to Communist Party meetings for approval. This plan, a Stalinist holdover of China's old command economy, which is currently being finished by President Xi Jingping and which was discussed with Party “elders” last month, is expected to break with tradition by prioritising population growth rather than economic growth. 

According to Bloomberg, a “person familiar with the discussions” has reported that “population policies” may be emphasised over GDP for the first time in the plan. Such reports are being made against the background of a declining working age population in China (15 to 64 year olds decreased by 1.6 million last year) and a slowing Chinese economy. At the same time the country is getting older – the share of the population over 60 years old will climb from 12 percent to over a third across a 40 year period from 2010.… click here to read whole article and make comments



Japan faces unprecedented population contraction in 2015 census

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While we often point out the low fertility rates around the world, in most countries the size of the population isn’t actually contracting – yet.  However, that is not the case in Japan any longer.  Japan’s population is decreasing and getting older faster than almost any other country in the world. The country’s national census, conducted every five years, will begin this Thursday and is expected to show the first ever drop in population since the survey began back in 1920.  However, we will have to wait a while to get the actual figures which will be released in February. 

The census will provide basic data needed for various policies, including welfare services and disaster prevention.  The welfare system is expected to become ever more strained in coming years without enough taxpayers to support the increasing elderly.  The median age is now over 46 and people are living longer and having fewer babies.  The… click here to read whole article and make comments



Russia’s unmotivated elderly

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Russia’s demographic fortune has been a frequent topic on this blog as we've tracked the large nation's demographic decline throughout the 1990s and early 2000s and its improvements in the last few years. The decline or otherwise of Russia's population has been a contentious issue, not least because boosting Russia's population has been on Putin's “to-do” list for sometime (after he finishes working out with his buddies of course!)

Now there is some more bad news from the Moscow Times about increases in Russia's life expectancy figures slowing down.

According to recent research published in the Lancet medical journal, global life expectancy is rising. While Russia is also rising, its growth is much slower than the global average. In 1990, Russians' life expectancy was 69.4 years, over four years more than the global average of 65.3 years. However in 2013 the Russian life expectancy was slightly below the global average: 71.2 and… click here to read whole article and make comments



Large-scale immigration cure for Europe’s demographic “disaster”?

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At a time when European leaders seem incapable of knowing what to do with the huge numbers of refugees and migrants turning up on their southern shores and borders, the Guardian has published an in-depth article chronicling the continent's demographic “disaster”. The Guardian has no difficulty in seeing the irony in the juxtaposition of these two phenomena:

“...across huge swaths of the European Union, longstanding communities are disappearing and the social burden on the young is becoming unsustainable. Meanwhile, in Kos, Lampedusa and on the Hungarian border, tens of thousands plead to be allowed in.”

Of course, after reading that, one might nod and think, “How silly of Europe's leaders, why don't they open up their doors to these migrants and kill two birds with one stone?” There is something in that – if you don't reproduce yourself from generation to generation then,… click here to read whole article and make comments



The huge economic contribution of family caregivers

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I have often opined that the economic contribution of parents should be better recognised, not least by mothers and fathers themselves.  Likewise, a recent report has found that the contribution of family members that look after elderly family members is huge and an essential part of our social, health, and economic systems. The economic contributions of these invisible workforces often go unnoticed when provided by family members, as opposed to employed nannies or caregivers.

In its ‘Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update’, the AARP Public Policy Institute studied the economic value of family caregiving and the crucial economic service those who provide unpaid care and support provide. The institute focuses on a wide range of issues of concern to older Americans, and found that in 2013 about 40 million family caregivers in the United States provided an estimated 37 billion hours of care to an adult with some sort… click here to read whole article and make comments



Quads born at the age of 65!

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Here is a news story I saw the other night on one of New Zealand's news channels. I leave it here for you to watch with only a couple of questions:

  • Why would you get IVF when you are 65 years old?
  • Why would any doctor agree to give IVF when the patient is 65 years old and already has 13 children?
  • Is she mad?
  • How do you look that remarkeably well when you are 65 and have 17 children???? 
  • Is this woman single-handedly trying to reverse Germany's desperately low birth rate?
click here to read whole article and make comments



The joys of parenting

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Apparently parenthood makes a person more unhappy than divorce, unemployment and even the death of a partner, according to a study published this month in the journal Demography.  If this is what journals and papers around the world are headlining, it doesn’t bode well for future birth rates.

The aim of the study was to better understand widespread low birth rates and why so many couples stop at one child, even when they have previously said that they want more.  For example, Germany’s current birth rate has remained at only 1.5 children per woman over the last 40 years, even though in surveys a majority of people say that they would like more than that. 

Researchers Rachel Margolis, a sociology researcher at the University of Western Ontario, and Mikko Myrskylä, director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, followed 2,016 Germans from childlessness until… click here to read whole article and make comments



Population growth in California?

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Although demography sometimes seems as if it is a dry, perhaps somewhat boring, discipline it is always good to keep in mind that the counting of populations is also deeply political. As such, there is always the possibility that the figures that we take for granted as being accurate have been manipulated for political ends. This is not just a simple case of corrupt, third-world countries lying about the statistics (like perhaps in Nigeria). It is also perhaps seen in first world European countries publishing misleading emigration numbers (like Spain?) or in a global superpower hiding its true decline (like China?)

Misleading demographic numbers can also be used in different ways by politicians from across the political divide, as Joe Mathews argues is happening in California. Although… click here to read whole article and make comments



UN report shows population increase does not spell disaster

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School feeding programme in India. Fflglobalpics via Wikimedia 


Contrary to the fear mongering of population alarmists, the world isn’t heading for a demographic catastrophe. The latest data on world population from the UN Population Division reveal a number of trends that indicate otherwise. The following is PRI’s brief overview of some of the findings from the recently released 2015 Revision of theWorld Population Prospects.

According to the UN Population Division’s medium variant projection, world population is estimated to be 7.3 billion today. That number is expected to rise to 9.7 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100. In the past two and a half decades, world population has increased by 2 billion people. Yet despite the rapid rise in world population, the percentage of people living with hunger in developing countries has actually dropped from 24% to 14% over the… 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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