MONDAY, 15 JUNE 2015

Our world is dramatically transforming

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2015 is roughly the half way point to one of the most astounding transformations in history.  By 2060, for the first time in history, children will be no more numerous than any other age group, and the number of elderly will have increased significantly. This easy to understand, clear summary from The Economist is well-worth the four minutes it takes to watch.  

 

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THURSDAY, 11 JUNE 2015

Egypt worries about its population growth

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The increasing number of births will rob Egypt of some of its imminent demographic dividend—the economic advantage of having few old people and children relative to the number of working adults. “Meeting the demands of this population will require strong, sustained economic growth and redistributive policies,” says Jaime Nadal Roig, who heads Egypt’s branch of the UN’s population fund. Sadly for Egypt, making the economic indicators tick up fast enough is as hard as making the fertility rate go back down.

While this blog has recently focussed on countries such as Germany and Japan that are facing imminent population and economic decline, today we will look at another country that is struggling with the consequences of population growth: Egypt.  A current population of over 88 million, a fertility rate of 3.5 children per woman, a falling infant mortality rate, rising life expectancy for Egyptians, and the prospect of faster population growth have various… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

TUESDAY, 9 JUNE 2015

Germany’s impending economic decline

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Last month we discussed Germany’s forecast demographic slump in the coming decades. I noted that if this demographic decline turns into economic decline, then Europe and the rest of the World will be in for a bumpy ride in the 21st century. Well, according to the World Economy Institute in Hamburg (HWWI), this demographic decline will seriously threaten the long-term viability of Europe’s leading economy. The Telegraph quotes the Institute as stating that:

“No other industrial country is deteriorating at this speed despite the strong influx of young migrant workers. Germany cannot continue to be a dynamic business hub in the long-run without a strong jobs market[.]”

Interestingly, in the five years 2008-2013, Germany managed 8.2 births per 1,000 people, a figure lower even than Japan’s of 8.4 births per 1,000 people. Such continuously low birth rate means that the… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

FRIDAY, 5 JUNE 2015

Remains of the population bomb are finally laid to rest

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It’s official. The New York Times has confirmed that the population explosion has not wreaked horrors upon the world: the apocalyptic predictions of the 1960s have fallen “as flat as ancient theories about the shape of the Earth.” Some people won’t believe that, but, if the Times says so, that’s good enough for me.

In an impressive video the Times’ Retro Report team take us back to the hysteria whipped up by Paul Ehrlich’s 1969 tract, The Population Bomb, and then sketch how it fizzled. They revisit not only Ehrlich himself (who is unrepentant) but other key figures who were believers then and have since accepted the evidence that population growth is not an unmitigated evil.

The film is frank about how extreme the population control movement became.

A young Stewart Brand, founding editor of the Whole Earth Catalogue and “totally” persuaded by Ehrlich, is interviewed at a public starve-in staged… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

FRIDAY, 5 JUNE 2015

English gynaecologist warns of “fertility time bomb”

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A top English gynaecologist has warned that women need to have babies earlier to stop a ‘fertility time bomb’, stating that foreign migrants should not be relied upon to keep population levels steady amid declining birth rates among British mothers.

Professor Nargund, a lead consultant for reproductive medicine at St George's Hospital in London, was moved to write to Education Secretary Nicky Morgan about the importance of fertility education not only for the benefit of women themselves, but also wider society and “the public purse".  She strongly suggested fertility knowledge be included on the national curriculum, stating that "educated women are not necessarily educated about their fertility".

A recent study led by Ann Berrington, a professor at the Economic and Social Research Council for Population Change, found that women who graduated in the United Kingdom had only 1.68 children on average.  The findings led The Telegraph to report this week that a “generation… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

THURSDAY, 4 JUNE 2015

Rug up for the demographic winter

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The greatest crisis humanity will confront in the 21st Century isn’t global warming, or scarce resources, or nuclear proliferation or a super-virus which will ravage the planet or any of the other disasters – real or imaginary – that national governments and international bodies agonize over.

If current trends continue, we won’t run out of energy or other resources in the foreseeable future. But we will run out of people. This catastrophe will be the result of rapidly declining fertility, the Demographic Winter.

The fertility rate refers to the number of children the average woman has in her lifetime. In developed nations, a rate of 2.1 is needed just to replace current population. More, and you have population growth; less, and your population declines.

Worldwide, in 1960, the average woman had 5 children. Now, that number is 2.6 and falling. Every industrialized nation has below-replacement fertility. In… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

WEDNESDAY, 3 JUNE 2015

UN Sustainable Development Goals “highly unethical”

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The proposed UN Sustainable Development Goals are designed to replace the Millennium Development Goals and are due to come into effect later this year. You can view the “Open Working Group Proposal for Sustainable Development Goals” here. In particular, have a look at goal 3.4 which reads:

“Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

3.4 by 2030 reduce by one-third pre-mature mortality from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through prevention and treatment, and promote mental health and wellbeing”

That sounds very good. Who could possibly be against the goal of reducing pre-mature mortality from non-communicable diseases (cancer, strokes, diabetes, dementia etc)? Well, according to an open letter published in The Lancet, an international group of ageing specialists is against it. On what grounds? On the grounds that this goal will lead to countries prioritising health care for the… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 1 JUNE 2015

Insights into a family of 12

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Simcha with three of her girls [Photo credit: Matthew Lomanno / NH Magazine]

Many people can remember a time when larger families of four or more were common.  Both of my parents were one of five, but now the average family has fewer than two children.  What was once a common and even celebrated way of living and growing up has now become almost counter-cultural. Given this, it is beyond the realm of most people’s knowledge to understand what living in a big family is like.  New Hampshire Magazine decided to give an insight into the laughter, chaos and humanity of living and co-operating with many others of differing ages and stages. 

The magazine’s interest was in part due to a recent CDC report finding that New Hampshire has the lowest birth rate in America, with the rest of New England following closely behind. To see what life is like within the Fisher family,… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

WEDNESDAY, 27 MAY 2015

Burma’s new population control measures

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Although we have often talked about China's approach to state-enforced population control via its infamous “one-child policy”, it is important to remember that China is not the only country to try and fix its demographic future. For example, last year we reported on Vietnam and its recently retired “two child policy”. And now Burma (or Myanmar) has recently passed a law that seeks to control the country's population. According to this report from Deutsche Welle:

“The president of Myanmar has signed a controversial population control bill into law, state media reported on Saturday. The law requires mothers to have their children three years apart. It was passed over the objections of rights activists, who say that it not only represses women, but also religious and ethnic minorities.”

Now, currently Burma's population is about 60 million, but its current total fertility rate is at only 2.23 children per woman, not… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 25 MAY 2015

The rise of ‘aquatecture’

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Most of the Earth’s surface is covered in water - 71 percent of it to be exact.  Currently we use very little of that to live on, but floating cities might be the next big thing.  Human ingenuity and adaptability mean that new technology is constantly providing solutions to real or perceived challenges. Floating cities pay no rent to landlords and, situated on the water as they are, can desalinate and recirculate water in many useful and non-polluting ways.

Architect, Koen Olthuis, calls himself an 'aquatect', an architect who uses water to help improve the design of a city.  He has created over 100 floating houses in the Netherlands in the past 12 years, ranging from apartments to luxury villas.  However, his real passion lies in making a difference for people living in poorer countries.  He believes that anything you can build on land, you can build on the water.  His floating… 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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