Japan’s military feels the population squeeze

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Japan has a shrinking population and the government is looking at ways to stabilise this demographic decline to a sustainable level (100 million people) by 2065. There seems to be little hope that the decline can be reversed, only managed.

This decline has implications for all sorts of sectors of Japan's society, including its military. At a time that the country has recently liberalised its use of the military from purely a self-defence force, that same military is facing personnel shortages. (Currently there are about a quarter of a million men and women in the Japanese military, with a further 50,000 in reserve.) 

This shortage is not necessarily solely due to the shrinking population, but also due to the fact that that smaller population is less eager to join the military than it might have… click here to read whole article and make comments



Growing number of child brides in Africa

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As the population of Africa grows in the next few years, one of the issues that the UN, the African Union and other NGOs are worried about is the rise in the number of child brides (girls married before the age of 18). At the moment there are an estimated 125 million women who were married before the age of 18. By 2050, the UN's agency for children, UNICEF, is concerned that this could rise to 310 million, mainly as a result of Africa's increasing population. If this is correct, then Africa will take over from South Asia as the area of the world where child brides are most common.

These figures have come out on the eve of the African Union Girls' Summit in Lusaka, Zambia and after a period of action by the African Union trying… click here to read whole article and make comments



Gorgeous photos of Princess Charlotte released

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Photo: Duchess of Cambridge


Two gorgeous new photos have been released of Princess Charlotte, taken by the Duchess of Cambridge herself and released by Kensington Palace on Friday as a thank you to fans.  They were uploaded onto Twitter here.  The royal couple appear to be enjoying family life and their beautiful 7 month old daughter as she quickly grows towards toddlerhood.  Kensington Palace relayed that 'The Duke and Duchess hope everyone enjoys these new photos of Princess Charlotte as much as they do'.  

No doubt, the royal home isn't always as calm as it appears in the photos, and I'm sure Kate often has her hands full with two littlies, the royal couple having previously described Prince George as 'a little bit of a rascal', as all toddlers can be!  The photos are a celebration of life and childhood; precious moments… click here to read whole article and make comments



NZers come home

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Earlier this month New Zealand beat its trans-Tasman cousin (Australia) to win the Rugby World Cup 2015. At it seems that the prospect of New Zealand winning the only sporting trophy that matters (apart from cricket, netball or rugby league world cups, but we won’t talk about those) had an immediate effect on the two countries migration figures. Statistics New Zealand has just announced that in the year to October 2015 there were more immigrants coming to New Zealand from Australia than there were emigrants going the other way. This is the first time in over 20 years that New Zealand has not lost population to its larger neighbour. (And the phenomenon has been going on for longer than that, a former New Zealand Prime Minister, Sir Robert Muldoon, quipped in the earlier 1980s that New Zealanders heading to Australia “raised the IQ of both countries”.)

So, from October 2014-October 2015… click here to read whole article and make comments



The growing Church in Africa

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Later on this week Pope Francis is travelling to central Africa for a five day tour. He will visit Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic and has a hectic schedule which includes visiting the shrines of the Catholic and Anglican martyrs of Uganda and visiting a refugee camp in the Central African Republic. The latter country is still in the midst of ongoing violence between Muslim and Christian dominated groups – indeed, it is in the middle of a fully-fledged civil war. Hopefully Pope Francis will bring a message of justice and mercy that will give food for thought for those on both sides of the conflict.

The Pope's visit comes at a time when the Catholic Church is growing on the continent. According to Reuters, the number of Catholics has nearly trebled since 1980 in Africa – to over 200 million in 2012. And this is not just… click here to read whole article and make comments



The global ambitions of the Islamic State

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The so called ‘Islamic state’ is an increasing presence on the world map.  When Mohammed first saw his vision 1400 years ago, Islam, the new teaching of Mohammed, began to take territory. Hilaire Belloc, an Anglo-French writer and historian and one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century, wrote in his books The Great Heresies and Survivals and New Arrivals:

Within a hundred years, a main part of the Roman world had fallen under the power of this new and strange force from the Desert. Such a revolution had never been. No earlier attack had been so sudden, so violent or so permanently successful. Within a score of years from the first assault in 634 the Christian Levant had gone: Syria, the cradle of the Faith, and Egypt with Alexandria, the mighty Christian See. Within a lifetime… click here to read whole article and make comments



Jonah Lomu dies

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New Zealand is a small, non-wartorn country in the middle of nowhere. Thus it does not get a lot of international attention. Thus when a Kiwi dies and is featured in obituaries in the New York Times, the Guardian and the Telegraph, you can rest assured that they have had a global impact beyond most of their countrymen.

Jonah Lomu was one such New Zealander. He died on Wednesday morning aged only 40. For many years we had known he was sick, but I don't think many realised how close to death he actually was.

During his short life Jonah was the most globally recognised rugby player in history. He burst onto the global stage at the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa when people watched in awe at this 6ft 5in, 120… click here to read whole article and make comments



The challenges of an ageing nation

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One of the dominant themes on this blog is that, for many countries, the twenty-first century will see its citizens get older on average as people live longer and fewer babies are born. This will have all sorts of impacts on these societies, and one of the largest impacts will be seen on these countries’ economies. As we blogged a few weeks ago, many countries which have relied on demographic tailwinds in the last few decades are seeing those tailwinds die away or veer to become headwinds.

One country facing an ageing future is the United Kingdom, which will see its over-65 year old population increase 60% in the next twenty years. However, Stephen Clarke of the Legatum Institute (an international think tank focussed on promoting prosperity) argues that an ageing population should be seen as an opportunity as well as a risk.… click here to read whole article and make comments



Secrets of a happy marriage

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Sadly, divorce rates are staggeringly high. It's not just sad for adults; it's sad for children.  This sobering map shows divorce rates around the world, with many countries showing rates above 40%:

However, the key to a happy and lasting marriage might be as simple as regularly expressing gratitude, according to a new report by researchers from the University of Georgia published in the journal Personal Relationships.  Study co-author Ted Futris comments that: "Feeling appreciated and believing that your spouse values you directly influences how you feel about your marriage, how committed you are to it, and your belief that it will last."  Lead author Allen Barton considers that the study "goes to show the power of 'thank you'" and suggests a "practical way couples can help strengthen their marriage."

Perhaps that is one of the secrets behind the heart-warming story published in New Zealand this week about Nelson couple Gilbert… click here to read whole article and make comments



Middle-class white Americans are killing themselves

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A pair of Princeton economists, Angus Deaton and Anne Case (who also happen to be husband and wife), have released a new report on the mortality rates of middle-aged (45-54 years old) white Americans. And the findings aren’t pretty.

As the New York Times reports, in the period 1999-2014, the mortality rate for white middle-aged Americans rose to 415 per 100,000. This inflated mortality rate is still lower than that for middle-aged black Americans (581 per 100,000 people) but is substantially higher than that for middle-aged Hispanic Americans (262 per 100,000 people). Further, while the rate for middle-aged whites has shot up since 1999, the rates of mortality for: middle-aged blacks; middle-aged Hispanics; younger people of all races and ethnicities; and older people of all races and ethnicities have all declined. In the words of Samuel Preston, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania:

“This is a… 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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