The oldest baton changes hands

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She was only number one for a few days, but Gertrude Weaver enjoyed her moment in the glare of global attention. What had Gertrude achieved to deserve this attention? She had stayed alive. That's right, for six days the Arkansas woman was the world's oldest-known living person according to Stuff and she loved every minute of it.

“Weaver, who said the key to longevity was to treat people kindly, basked in her brief moment in the global spotlight. She enjoyed being read news articles about being the oldest person on the planet, said Kathy Langley, the administrator of the Silver Oaks Health & Rehabilitation Center in Camden, Arkansas.”

Gertrude Weaver was born on July 4 (an auspicious day for an American!) way back in 1898. According to the Gerontology Research Group, which validates the ages of the world's longest-living people, there are only three people alive now with birth records… click here to read whole article and make comments



Japanese fathers need to help more around the house

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We've spoken many times on this blog of Japan's worsening demographic situation. Its current fertility rate is 1.43 children per woman - well below the "replacement" rate of around 2.1. The population has declined each year for the last eight years and is expected to continue to do so into the foreseeable future. This has the Japanese Government worried.  

As the Japan Times reports, the Government has just adopted a "policy outline for countermeasures for a society with a chronically low birthrate" which includes some rather interesting proposals. The most notable is that it seeks to change the cultural attitudes that Japanese men bring to family life and housework. Apparently, the amount of time that Japanese men spend on child-rearing and other domestic chores is among the lowest amounts in the world. If you have a child younger than 6 years old at home and you are Japanese man you will spend… click here to read whole article and make comments



Russian demography deteriorates

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Many are anxious that Putin be stopped both because of his questionable conduct towards his own people and his irreverence for international law.  However, demography has a hold on Russia’s future power which Putin in well aware of.  We’ve discussed conflicting views among commentators about Russia’s demographic outlook on this blog before.  Whether you’re a pessimist or an optimist, the current economic outlook is not helping Russia’s fertility rates.  A combination of inflation, plummeting oil prices and low growth meant that people’s average real disposable income shrank last year, and most people expect that 2015 will be worse. 

George Weigal comments in the National Review that:

Russia is, in many respects, dying. Alcoholism is rampant. Life expectancy is sinking: Today, a 15-year-old Haitian boy has a longer life expectancy than his 15-year-old Russian counterpart. The economy is stagnant, and the ruble is cratering. Russia imports potatoes from Romania. Churches… click here to read whole article and make comments



A reason for hope

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On this day over 2 billion Christians around the world are celebrating Jesus' resurrection and the great joy and hope the Easter season brings.  It is a hope which transcends world circumstances, such as the killing of Christians in Kenya, that we find ourselves struggling to comprehend.  

On the 10th anniversary of his death (2nd April), Saint John Paul II reminds us still of the great hope Christians have.  Facing dehumanising political systems and much resignation in the Church, the great Pontiff said “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” 

Each new child that enters a family is also both a gift and a new miracle, bringing with it hope for what that child's life is and might be.  We thought we would celebrate Easter Sunday on our blog with this clip which celebrates the miracle each new life is - a great miracle so many of us have been privileged… click here to read whole article and make comments



Happy Easter!

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Happy Easter everyone! Here in New Zealand the Easter weekend is still four days long as Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays. (Give it time though, in a generation I won't be surprised to find this holiday replaced with something more “neutral”.) So most people enjoy what will hopefully be the last hurrah of the good weather before autumn descends into wintery southerlies. On Good Friday we have Hot Cross Buns traditionally in the morning (one supermarket chain said that it sells 11 million in the weeks leading up to Easter which is pretty incredible in a country of only 4.5 million people and you shouldn't really be eating them before Good Friday anyway!) and then in Auckland there is the Easter show to go to for the children with rides, animals, food stalls etc. On Easter Sunday is when we have chocolate Easter eggs. As children we used to leave… click here to read whole article and make comments



Iran’s push for more children

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Iran is worried about its birth rates. In the period 1980-1985, the country had a total fertility rate of about 6 and a half children per woman. By 2005-2010, this had dropped to 1.77 children per woman. An extremely sharp drop within one generation. This drop in the demographic outlook of the country has prompted the Iranian authorities to think about ways to increase its future population. (After all, if you're enriching uranium to use in nuclear power plants you need lots of future consumers to buy that nuclear power, right? Right??) In July 2012, the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Syed Ali Khamenei said:

“The policy of population control and family planning should definitely be revised and the authorities should build the culture in order to abandon the current status of one child, two children [per family]…The figure of 150 or 200 million was once stated by Imam Khomeini. That is… click here to read whole article and make comments



The changing face of America

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The face of mainstream America continues to change, and by 2044 white people of European descent with be a minority in America.  They currently make up about two thirds of the population, but change is irreversible and happening fast.  America is an international force both politically and economically, so changes to its makeup will affect all of us. 

This story is about white decline, rather than increased immigration.  We acknowledged this phenomenon on this blog back in 2013 when demographer William Frey commented that the slow decline of the white population will “characterise this century” of American history.  In a similar article in 2012, I cited an article in the New Scientist that month which warned that the "wealthy, ageing white population of America must be prepared to invest in young Hispanics" to protect their own "golden future".

This month The Economist is again grappling with a future which involves the current population… click here to read whole article and make comments



What a night!!

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I am a little tired and hoarse today after last night. This wasn't because I was out until the early hours of the morning partying...oh wait, yes I was. I was with 42,000 other people screaming and yelling and crying and laughing and hugging strangers and high fiving other strangers at 11pm last night. At 10.45pm last night I was chewing my finger nails with 42,000 other people and you couldn't hear a pin drop. That's right: I was at the cricket semi-final last night between New Zealand and South Africa. (I mentioned my good fortune of receiving tickets for my birthday last week.) And what a semi-final it was. I have been a life-long cricketing tragic and have suffered a lot for supporting the New Zealand team, but last night's game made up for a lot of that suffering. Not all of it of course, but a lot. 

It came… click here to read whole article and make comments



A society working for a rich elite?

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Debate stirred by International Women’s Day has been thought-provoking.  The media abounds with encouragement for women in CEO positions and strategies for how more could and should get there.  However, how many women are truly hankering after a CEO position to complete the greatest desires of their souls?  For the majority of us, our satisfaction with relationships, family life and the emotional well-being of our children is what most contributes to our day-to-day happiness and well-being. The editorial in the March edition of First Things put forward an insightful point:  It is a small rich elite that benefits from the cultural shift around work, marriage and family in recent years, and the poor that are forsaken by their destruction.  It comments:

Today’s progressivism has come a long way from Pete Seeger’s communism.  It’s now almost entirely pre-occupied with elite issues.  Organs of the liberal establishment … focus on the… click here to read whole article and make comments



Will low-birth-rate Turks become a minority in their own country?

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Turkey is emerging as a powerhouse in the Eastern Mediterranean: an economic power that has greater influence in the region and that promotes itself as a “model Muslim democracy”. However, the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is worried about a problem that many Western nations are used to: a declining fertility rate and demographic problems in the medium future.

As the International Business Times reports, rising household incomes, greater access to education for women and increased use of birth control has seen the Turkish fertility rate steadily decline since the 1990s.

“Indeed, Dr. Ismet Koç, a demographer at Hacettepe University in Ankara, warned that Turkey's fertility rate is now below 2.1, the replacement level, which suggests the population will eventually decline. The fertility level in more prosperous western Turkey is now about 1.5 -- roughly the same as in Western Europe.”

But that… 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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