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



Western Society: Reinforcing our Selfishness?

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Here is something from the sociologists to think about today: we are born fairly well altruistic and big hearted until consumerism, the 24 hour news cycle and western standards of living turn us into nasty, mean, selfish, worried individuals. What do you think about that?

This is the claim being made by child and adolescent psychotherapist Graham Music who is doing a bit of a publicity push in the Guardian newspaper before releasing his new book at the end of this month called: The Good Life: Wellbeing and the New Science of Altruism, Selfishness and Immorality. Here it is on Amazon for those interested in pre-ordering.  

Music’s argument is this:

"We're losing empathy and compassion in dealing with other people in our society…There is a lot of evidence that the speed of life and the resultant anxiety have an enormous impact on how we deal with… click here to read whole article and make comments


FRIDAY, 2 MAY 2014

Rare footage of a birth control pioneer

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A newsreel archive company has recently uploaded 85,000 historic films made between 1896 and 1976 onto Youtube (under than name British Pathe if you want to check them out.  There is the Wright Brothers' first flight and Queen Victoria's funeral in 1901 among other things).

One in particular relates to demography.  Planned Parenthood, an organisation which receives huge amounts of funding in the United States, was started by a lady with rather sinister views, Margaret Sanger.  Despite its terrible origins the organisation lives on and has had a huge impact on world demographics.

This interesting clip goes back to 1947 and is rare footage of Margaret Sanger arguing that European women shouldn't have babies for ten years. Quite an incredible world view. The Daily Caller picked up the story:

One video that has caught The Daily Caller’s eye is the one below, in which American birth control activist Margaret Sanger… click here to read whole article and make comments



China on track to be world’s largest Christian nation

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I came across a fascinating article the other day in the UK Daily Telegraph newspaper that I thought that I would share with you. In this article, the claim is made that soon China will be the largest Christian country in the world. That is, the country with the largest number of Christians:

“China's Protestant community, which had just one million members in 1949, has already overtaken those of countries more commonly associated with an evangelical boom. In 2010 there were more than 58 million Protestants in China compared to 40 million in Brazil and 36 million in South Africa, according to the Pew Research Centre's Forum on Religion and Public Life. Prof Yang [professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule], a leading expert on religion in China, believes that number will swell to around 160 million by… click here to read whole article and make comments



Are we ready for the “grey tsunami”?

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As we’ve often mentioned on this blog, much of the world is facing an ageing population (a "grey/gray tsunami" as some commentators have named it).  Many countries face the near future involving a greater percentage of their population in the age bracket 65+ years old. This greater elderly cohort has all sorts of implications for our societies and economies. This tsunami is rushing nearing and more and more are starting to ask: what will happen when it hits?

The Lancet published last month a journal article about the “crisis” in “global elderly care”. This article draws attention to the potential problem, but is light on details about how to deal with the fallout of an ageing population.  But at least recognition of the problem is the necessary first step towards dealing with it and the Lancet is certainly aware of the coming tsunami.  As it… click here to read whole article and make comments



Iran leads Muslim countries in fertility decline

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Happy Easter!  I hope you are celebrating this joyful day with friends and family.  This hopeful Easter article was in our local NZ Herald.  However, today I bring you a story from a predominantly Muslim country, Iran.  You might be surprised to know that in recent years the country has experienced one of the most steeply falling fertility rates in the world.  The average number of births per woman back in the early 1980s in Iran was 6.08.  That dropped to just 1.8 births per woman in 2007.  So ‘successful’ was the Family Planning Program introduced in 1966, that the government is now worried that population growth could reach zero within twenty years’ time and that one working age person will soon be required to support seven retired persons.  Needless to say, they are attempting to do a quick about turn!

Iran leads Muslim countries in fertility decline.  In 2030 Iran will have the lowest… click here to read whole article and make comments



Russia: Growing and More Assertive

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A little while ago I posted a blog entry about the demographic problems for Ukraine and its similarities with Russia in that respect. That was before the crisis of the Crimean standoff. Now, of course, the Russian absorption of the Crimean peninsula is a fait accompli and we are watching round two in Eastern Ukraine.

Some, myself included, have wondered how much of Russia’s aggression has been that of a declining power trying to recapture some past glory and to hide its current failings. Well, that may be the case, but at least for the moment one aspect of Russia’s outlook is somewhat brighter: its demographic outlook.   

According to Mark Adomanis, writing in Forbes, Russia’s demography is continuing to improve from its disastrous outlook of a few years ago. According to Adomanis, Putin’s reign in Russia has coincided with an improvement in both public health and population… click here to read whole article and make comments



Japan’s Shrinking Role in the World

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The Economist has provided another very interesting piece about a story that I think gets less coverage than it should be receiving: the slow, steady, inevitable (?) implosion of Japanese society. I don’t think that saying that is being melodramatic, what else does one call a society which has a population that has been shrinking for the past decade (in a time of historically-unheard peace and prosperity!) and shows no sign of stopping that decline? Does this population decline not show a lack of confidence in the society’s future prospects and a lack of interest or desire in propagating that society? Shouldn’t this news story be more closely followed elsewhere since: a) Japan is the third-largest economy in the world; b) Japan is in a very worrying diplomatic conflict with the world’s second-largest economy; and c) Japan is the canary in the mine for many other western nations. How will these other nations… 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 editor of Demography is Destiny is Marcus Roberts, a New Zealand lawyer. Send him your comments and suggestions. 

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