Practical ways to improve food distribution

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With refugee numbers high around the world, we are forced to grapple with questions about the distribution of the resources available to us, along with questions about nationhood, culture and the sanctity of borders.  Leaving questions of borders aside, it is generally recognised that there is more than enough food in the world to feed everyone.  It is only because food is distributed unevenly, wasted, or even intentionally destroyed in war-torn or politically unstable countries, that many go hungry.  The head of the United Nations food and agriculture agency has stated that:

“…the Food and Agriculture Organization believes that hunger can be eradicated around the globe ‘in a generation, in our lifetime’ if there is a political commitment by world leaders to ensure that all their citizens get access to nutritious food."

The United Nations has further commented that:

“The… click here to read whole article and make comments



The refugee crisis you might not have heard of: Lebanon

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While the migrant crisis in Europe has been getting all of the international attention, a much larger migration from Syria has quietly been underway – to neighbouring Lebanon. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, there are 1.1 million registered refugees living in Lebanon, but many more are not registered with the UN. The total number of refugees could be something in the order of 1.5 million people says Father Paul Karam, president of Caritas Lebanon. All of these people have fled the violence in Syria to a country with a population of just under 4 million and a land area of 10,000 square kilometres. (To put that in perspective Lebanon is two-thirds the size of Conneticut or one-thirtieth the size of New Zealand, or one-third the size of Belgium, or one-quarter the size of Bhutan...you get the picture – Lebanon is a very… click here to read whole article and make comments



Is Europe dying?

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More people in Europe are dying than are being born, according to a new report in a major demography journal, Population and Development Review. In contrast, births exceed deaths, by significant margins, in the United States, with few exceptions.

The researchers find that 17 European nations have more people dying in them than are being born (natural decrease), including three of Europe’s more populous nations: Russia, Germany and Italy. In contrast, in the US, births exceed deaths by a substantial margin. 

“Natural decrease is much more common in Europe than in the US because its population is older, fertility rates are lower and there are fewer women of child-bearing age,” Texas A&M demographer Dudley Poston and his colleagues explain. “Natural decrease is a major policy concern because it drains the demographic resilience from a region diminishing its economic viability and competitiveness.”

“In 2013 in Texas, for example, there… click here to read whole article and make comments



The cost of Mexico’s war on drugs

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Since 2006 there has been a low-level civil war raging in Mexico between its government (armed forces and police) and the various criminal cartels involved in smuggling drugs to the USA. According to Wiki anywhere between 60,000 and 120,000 people have died in the violence. And now, according to LatinPost, a report from the American journal Health Affairs has claimed that the war on the Mexican drug cartels has reversed the growth in life expectancy for Mexican men. After decades of increasing life expectancy (to around 72 years in 2014), the statistical life expectancy of the country's male citizens has dropped by several months.

And it's not just male life expectancy that has been affected. According to the study's authors:

"The unprecedented rise in homicides after 2005 led to a reversal in life expectancy increases among males and a slowdown among females in most states.”

In those Mexican states most… click here to read whole article and make comments



Will Japan bow to immigration pressure?

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Japan has historically been wary of immigration, introducing foreign worker schemes to avoid it.  The Japan Times has just published a five part series discussing the problems caused by the country’s low birth rate and shrinking, ageing population, evidencing increasing concern for the country’s plight.  

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set a target to raise the fertility rate to 1.8 (from 1.42 in 2014) last September.  The government’s overall goal is to maintain the population at 100 million in 2060 — still signficantly smaller than the 126.88 million people who live in Japan today.  If the fertility rate doesn’t increase, Japan’s population will drop to about 80 million by 2065 and 40 million by 2115.  In other words, all things remaining the same, Japan will have lost over two thirds of its population in a hundred years time.  This shift will cause increasingly significant labour shortages and a decline in its standard of living… click here to read whole article and make comments



The coming great shrinkage

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Traffic jam in Lagos  

At some point I hope to come across a game-changer in terms of the impact of changing demographics on economic growth. But the recent publication from the International Monetary Fund, The Fiscal Consequences of Shrinking Populations, is not it.

The consequences of current demographic trends, namely higher pension and health care spending as a proportion of national income and potentially lower economic growth, and the possible solutions, namely higher birth rates, higher labour force participation, more migration, entitlement reform and more effective public spending, are the same as have been discussed ad nauseam in many papers both academic and popular.

The IMF report does add one interesting feature to the mix. While it uses current UN projections which imply that the global population will peak around 2100, they caution that, on past performance, the UN may be optimistic… click here to read whole article and make comments



The demographics of German migration

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In the continuing aftermath of the sex attacks in German (and other European cities) on New Year’s Eve, the writings of Valerie Hudson, a professor at Texas A & M University are receiving quite a lot of attention. Hudson studies the effects of sex ratios on the stability of nations and she has written an essay in Politico on the demographics of the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have entered Europe in the past few months. As the Australian reports:

“According to official statistics, two thirds of all migrants registering in Greece and Italy last year were male. A fifth of all those who reached the EU last year were under the age of 18; half had travelled alone. Of those, more than 90 per cent were boys.

While debate in Europe has frequently focused on the faith and culture of the new arrivals,… click here to read whole article and make comments



Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas everyone! Unfortunately this will be the last DID blogpost for 2015: Shannon, the boys and I are heading down south for a Christmas break with family next week. But don’t worry, we will be back in the New Year and will continue to bring you interesting stories from around the globe about our world’s changing population. But for now we are looking forward to relaxing, enjoying time with family and hopefully getting some fine, hot summer days (we have been trying to explain to our eldest son Thomas that here in New Zealand it doesn’t snow at Christmas – he is getting very confused!)
We hope that all of our readers have a fantastic Christmas holiday season and that you all travel safely.

See you in 2016!

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Ageing population = low economic growth

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The impacts of an ageing population will be felt in all manners of areas of society, including, but not limited to, the economy. In the US the retiring baby boomers are starting to make their impact felt in the economic sphere. It is a phenomenon which is one of the reasons for the current economic doldrums that the US has been stuck in for the last few years – and one of the reasons why the economy has not recovered very quickly or strongly after the GFC. As the Business Insider explains: 

[Ed] Keon [managing director and portfolio manager at QMA, a business of Prudential Financial] writes that, one, a large population of older folks are earning a greater share of income and wealth in the US, and, two, they are changing investing and spending habits. And he suggests that these two… click here to read whole article and make comments



Building age-friendly cities

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Many countries are now facing up to the reality of their ageing populations and taking steps to encourage and support people to work longer.  This not only benefits elderly people themselves, but also helps to deal with the economic consequences of an ageing population. Japan has the most aged population in the world, and is beginning to take some positive measures to support its elderly population, and Hong Kong is looking to follow its lead.

One example is the creation of elderly friendly community housing structures.  For instance, the Toyoshikidai housing estate in Kashiwa, a city 30km from Tokyo, is being created in conjunction with the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Gerontology.  An old apartment complex built in the 1960s is being replaced with barrier-free 10- to 14-storey apartment houses designed to make life easy for single people living alone. The estate will include a “Community Eatery”, a dining hall that serves nutritionally balanced meals… 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 humans 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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