No more people please: Beijing

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Beijing’s population is growing. Quickly.  Beijing has doubled in population within 25 years. From 2000 to December 2013 the population grew by 53 percent.  It is now home to 21.1 million people and to the problems that so many people together can bring: roads clogged with traffic; smog making the air hard to breath; poor quality housing.  So what do the local Communist authorities want to do to remedy this situation and to prevent Beijing from expanding any further? According to Bloomberg, they want to turn people away:

“What would Beijing be like with more than twice as many people?

It’s a dystopian scenario tormenting Mayor Wang Anshun and local Communist Party chief Guo Jinlong as they plow ahead with a mission impossible: turning people away…Instead, Mayor Wang, 56, who was acting mayor from July 2012 and officially took the role in January 2013, has banned the sub-division of apartments,… click here to read whole article and make comments



What you can tell about a country’s future by looking at its gender balance

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The human sex ratio, which is usually defined in terms of the number of males per 100 females, varies greatly between countries and regions. The biological norm is for the sex ratio at birth to be about 105 more or less everywhere – meaning just over 51% of births are boys and just under 49% are girls.

But with equal care and feeding, females die less quickly. It is therefore not surprising that the sex ratio of the population as a whole in the West and in many other regions leans in favour of women. In the UK this ratio is 99; in the US, 97; and in the EU, 96. In sub-Saharan Africa, where life expectancy at birth for is relatively low for both sexes, the ratio is 99. In Russia, Ukraine and some former Eastern bloc countries, it is among the lowest in the world: 86 for both Russia and Ukraine.

click here to read whole article and make comments



Millennials: the “nice” generation?

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Have you heard of the generation called the “millennials”? This the generation that I am a part of, apparently – those born after 1980 and before 2000 (that is, between 15 and 34 years old).  If you have heard of this generation, then perhaps what you’ve heard is that we are: 

“Coddled and helicoptered, catered to by 24-hour TV cable networks, fussed over by marketers and college recruiters, dissected by psychologists, demographers and trend-spotters...”

 Since I write on a demography blog, it’s about time that I dissected this generation too – or, actually, dissect this NYTimes article about the millennials. What is it that millenials are known for? What sets them apart from other generations? 

“The usual answer seems to be ‘narcissism’ — self-absorption indulged to comical extremes. We all can recite the evidence:… click here to read whole article and make comments



Who knows what the future of healthcare will bring?

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We’ve often talked on this blog about the costs that a greying population will bring to many western nations, and how these costs are going to have to borne by a smaller tax base (as a proportion of the population). This cost is partly due to pension schemes (in New Zealand your pension is not means tested and kicks in at 65 years old – the current Government is refusing to even discuss raising the age at which it starts) but the cost is also due to the cost of healthcare. However, this article from John Lechleiter at Forbes magazine argues that we should not see health costs as a static figure to be projected into the future. Instead, we have been able in the last 100 years to develop cures for diseases that were considered incurable and the cost of these cures and treatments have decreased dramatically over time.

click here to read whole article and make comments



China’s (pet) population rising fast

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While human babies might not be increasing much in number in China despite the relaxation of the one child policy, pets are becoming much more prevalent.  The Chinese have a reputation for eating more types of meat than most Westerners have the stomach for, so to be a cat or dog lover is a relatively new cultural concept.  However, pet owning is on the rise.  

Interestingly, up until the 1980s having a pet dog was actually illegal in Beijing because they were considered to be a “bourgeois affectation” and an imitation of Western lifestyle.  After restrictions were loosened in the 1990s and early 2000s pet ownership grew.  By 2012 Beijing had more than 1 million registered pet dogs, which are now served by more than 300 pet hospitals, according to the Beijing Small Animal Veterinary Association.   

The government isn’t particularly happy about the situation.  Late last month the party’s national newspaper, the People’s… click here to read whole article and make comments



Will we all be African one day soon?

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Will we all be African again one day soon?  It's not as far-fetched as it sounds.  There has been an unprecedented demographic shift this century towards an increasingly African world. 

A report released this week by the UN children’s agency (UNICEF) found that by the end of this century about 40 per cent of all humans (and nearly half of all children) will be African - one of the fastest and most radical demographic changes in history.  In 1950 Africa accounted for only 9 per cent of the world’s population.  The population explosion will be biggest in West Africa. By 2050, Nigeria alone will account for an astounding one-tenth of all births in the world. It is currently the largest economy in Africa.

Fertility rates are actually declining in Africa as they are in much of the world.  However, they remain higher than anywhere else and,… click here to read whole article and make comments



Niger: the most fertile nation on earth

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This story from the Economist is about Niger – the largest country in West Africa (by size) – and the country with the highest fertility rate in the world (7.6 children per woman).  Although Niger does not have a large population by world standards (17 million) this number is set to more than triple between 2014 and 2050.  That wouldn’t be such a problem were it not for the fact that the country cannot feed itself even now and even when there are no droughts. Unfortunately, there are consistently droughts and the harvest regularly fails:

“Niger is, by the reckoning of the UN’s Human Development Index, the poorest place on earth…An estimated 2.5m people out of a total of 17m have no secure source of food. When harvests fail, which they do almost annually, that number shoots up. In 2012, when the worst of the recent food crises ravaged… click here to read whole article and make comments



Chinese state theology

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Why on Earth would an officially atheist country’s ruling class decide to create a new theology? Furthermore, why on Earth would anyone listen to what that ruling class had to say? The answers to those two questions: to buttress their authority and because their people have to listen to what they say on fear of severe penalties, may give you a hint as to which country we’re talking about. Yes China! The Communist Party controlling China has decided that spying on the menstrual cycles of its citizens is no longer enough, now it is going to pronounce on theodicy, the problem of consciousness and the whether it is holy because God wills it, or whether God wills it because it is holy. According to the International Business Times:

“The [Chinese] government will create a “Chinese Christian Theology” to guide the practice of Christianity in the country, the China… click here to read whole article and make comments



Moody’s warns investors: Aging to reduce economic growth worldwide

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The Moody’s Global Credit Research Team, which regularly prepares reports for investors and finance firms, warned investors this month in a special report that ‘the unprecedented pace of aging’ will slow economic growth over the next 20 years worldwide. 

Aging reduces economic growth because it reduces labour supply, and causes saving rates to decline which reduces business investment.  It makes sense that over 65’s are spending their savings, rather than making further investments.

By next year 68 of the 112 countries assessed by Moody’s report will be classified as “aging”, 34 “aged” and five, the rather amusingly categorised, “super-aged” – a category you achieve when more than 20% of society is aged 65 and above. 

Germany, Italy, and Japan are already “super-aged”, and are soon to be joined by Finland and Greece.  Eleven more countries, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France and Canada will get there by 2025, and there will be a total of… click here to read whole article and make comments



Europe dead in the water?

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Phillipe Legrain was the economic adviser to the President of the European Commission and head of a team providing the President with strategic policy advice from February 2011 to February 2014. Either his advice was not followed by the President or Legrain has had a change of heart about the strategic policy advice that he was giving.  I say this because he has authored a book entitled European Spring: Why Our Economies are in a Mess – and How to Put Them RightIn this piece published by Yale University, Legrain pulls no punches in describing the social, politcal and economic trouble that he thinks Europe is in. Economics first:

“After an unnecessarily long and deep recession, Europe’s recovery is the flimsiest on record: feeble in the eurozone, a return to housing bubble and bust in Britain. The long slump and governments’ subsequent budget cuts have exposed the chasm… 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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