SUNDAY, 15 JUNE 2014

A fascinating map of an ageing world

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The map above, produced by the Bank of America, shows in bright pink the sections of the world where more than 20% of the population are over 65.  In 2010 only Italy, Germany and Japan are shaded bright pink.  But, as you can see, the pink sections of the map grow dramatically by 2100 to include much of the world.  

The number of people over the age of 60 is expected to double from 841 million in 2013, to over 2 billion by 2050, according to UN figures.  Unfortunately this is accompanied by falling global birth rates to below even replacement level in many countries.  Incredibly, the number of people over the age of 60 is set to exceed the number of children for the first time, by 2047.

The Business Insider Australia published the map, showing an increasing awareness among financial and business communities of this issue.  It does mention… click here to read whole article and make comments



A limit to Chinese “supercities”

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In 2012 the number of city dwellers in China passed the number of Chinese living in the countryside for the first time in history.  By 2020, the Chinese Government is planning on the urban population to be 60% of the total Chinese population. (By way of contrast, according to the World Bank, urbanisation in the USA is about 82%, the UK is about 80% urbanised and India is about 31% urbanised.)

This increased urbanisation has of course led to the growth of cities, and certain Chinese cities are becoming very large indeed.  Beijing passed 21 million people last year and Shanghai is now home to about 24 million people.  These “Supercities” are now being viewed as problematic by the Chinese government and are being targeted by new regulation. According to the AFP, the Chinese President Xi Jingping has promised to impose strict limits on population growth in the country’s “largest cities”. 

click here to read whole article and make comments



Education: the economic solution for a dying society?

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Hello everyone! Go and take a look at this Economist article! If you love interactive maps of the world (I certainly do!) then you will love the map that they have prepared there for us. The map shows the total fertility rate (births per woman) of each country in the world. Blue countries are those with a fertility rate below the replacement rate (2.1 children per woman) beige countries are those with a “medium” fertility rate (2.1-2.49 children per woman) and red countries are those with a “high” fertility rate (above 2.5 children per woman). The blue countries are found mainly in Eurasia, North America and Australasia. The red countries are mainly found in Africa and the Middle East. The interactive nature of the map means that you can isolate countries according to fertility rate or zoom in on a continent or area. But don’t take my word for it, go… click here to read whole article and make comments



Have financial models changed forever?

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The above chart shows the fast dropping working age population of Europe.  Paul Krugman of The New York Times recently suggested that these demographics - hugely different from the what the world has seen in the last few hundred years - mean we cannot expect our financial system to continue to behave in the same way it has before.  

Interest rates have been very low in New Zealand, where I live, for some time.  This was bad news when my husband and I were saving for our house deposit, but very good news when we bought a house.  There have been suggestions here that interest rates will soon rise sharply as the New Zealand economy recovers and they have a little bit already.  I am no financial analyst, but Krugman suggests that in fact lower interest rates might simply be a new normal because of a slower economy in the low… click here to read whole article and make comments



You can work past 65 if you want!

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75 is the new 65, so we should all keep working for longer


The idea of raising the retirement age is not popular – most people resent being told they must work for longer. But with life expectancies increasing and people enjoying higher quality of life at older ages, we face the prospect of older people being retired for the same amount of time as they were working, or longer.

Our research supports the decision to raise retirement ages, but also shows how we can stop relentlessly raising retirement ages by maximising the workforce available in younger generations.

According to conventional thinking, pension ages have to go up because there is not enough money in national budgets to continue the current level of benefits that pensioners receive. This is a very unpopular argument and for good reason.

If the desired policy was to… click here to read whole article and make comments


FRIDAY, 23 MAY 2014

Iran’s 14 point plan for population growth

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It is a new reality around the world that fertility is a government issue and children must now be encouraged in case we end up with none at all in generations to come (or not come).  

Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has recently released a 14 point policy to speed up the country’s population growth and reverse its declining birth rate.  He called for the different institutions of the country to implement the plans with “precision, speed and strength.” In recent years the country has experienced one of the most steeply falling birth rates in the world (we recently wrote about Iran leading Muslim countries in fertility decline here).

It is a sign of the times that countries such as Iran need to write a comprehensive plan to encourage people to have families – something that it was taken for granted their parents and grandparents would do.  These are the 14 measures decided… click here to read whole article and make comments


TUESDAY, 20 MAY 2014

The village with no children

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Today I want to share with you some poignant photos from the hamlet of La Ciénega in Ecuador. The photos appear in the NYTimes and visually describe a town that has no children. The photographer, Santiago Arcos, was intrigued by the thought of a town with no children and after being sent there by his editor, has returned to La Ciénega every two months or so. There doesn’t appear to be much there that one would need to return again and again:

“...11 souls now live in eight houses. There are many more people buried in the cemetery, whose rugged crosses are made from the same sturdy wood as the 300 abandoned homes that dot the hilly village. Children had been long gone. So, too, were the school and the church. Even the deer that sustained them have been hunted almost out of existence.”

What killed the town was… click here to read whole article and make comments



Japanese panel proposes urgent measures

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(Image source - The Japan News)

Japan is finally starting to sit up and take notice of its fertility dilemma.  Adding to our discussion of Japan recently on the blog, a Japanese government panel investigating solutions to the problem released its proposals on Tuesday this week. 

The proposals reflect fears among the business community that unless urgent measures are actioned Japan could face an economic crisis.  Akio Mimura, the panel’s head, prominent Japanese businessman, and chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry stated that he hoped “the government will share our sense of crisis”.  He further warned that Japan’s population will decline by 1 million per year in the early 2040s, a sharp drop that the country has never experienced before.  

The panel proposed setting a goal to maintain a population level of about 100 million 50 years from now – a specific target… click here to read whole article and make comments


TUESDAY, 13 MAY 2014

Millions of “Leftover Women” in China

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A while ago on Demography is Destiny, we discussed the shortage of young women in China (due mainly to sex selective abortions exacerbated by the one-child policy) and the paradoxical phenomenon of “shengnu” (leftover women): young women who can’t find a husband. In that blogpost we explained this as due to women wanting to find husbands who were higher than them on the financial, educational, and social status ladders. As women in China upskill and become better educated and have better employment prospects, the chance of a woman finding a husband higher than her on these ladders decreases.

Now we can return to the “shengnu” phenomenon from another perspective.  Writing in Prospect Magazine, Jennifer Abrahams describes it as a rollback of feminist advances in Communist China. First she points to the term itself:

“Sheng nü, or ‘leftover women’ are defined as unmarried women over the age of… click here to read whole article and make comments


FRIDAY, 9 MAY 2014

Japan’s (Very Few) Children Day

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We discussed Japan’s continuing population decline last month on this blog and the attempts being made by the Abe government to try and reverse the trend.  Today we’re going to revisit the Land of the Rising Sun since its internal affairs and communications ministry celebrated Children’s Day by announcing that the number of children under the age of 15 years old is estimated to be 16.33 million. This is 160,000 fewer children than last year and means that for the 33rd year in a row the number of Japanese Children has declined. It is also the lowest number reached since records began in 1950.  It means that Japanese children account for 12.8% of the population while those aged over 65 years old made up 25.6 per cent of the population (a record high).  By way of contrast, the percentage of children in the USA is 19.5% and 16.5% in China. 

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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