THURSDAY, 1 JANUARY 2015

Happy 2015!

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Dear readers, can you believe that it is 2015 already? We at Demography is Destiny hope that you have all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year break. Down here in New Zealand it is the summer break and most people take 2 - 3 weeks off at this time (many offices close which means that their employees have to take their annual leave now). We've had some fantastic weather over the last week or so which has been great for the various holiday festivities.

We had a lovely Chirstmas day with Shannon's family here in Auckland. Thomas enjoyed his first Christmas where he kind of knew what was going on ("Jesus' birthday!" which means "presents!") Henry is only six weeks old and so the relaxing break has not really materialised for us this year (babies don't seem to take a holiday from waking up in the night...who would've thought...) However, we are… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

WEDNESDAY, 31 DECEMBER 2014

Happiness is an elusive goal

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As we approach a new year, and you spend time with family and friends for the holidays, you might be considering some new goals for your children.  It is beneficial to have some consistent strategies for the diverse little personalities in your life.  However, parenting strategies can be highly confusing.  It wasn't until I had my first baby that I realised that there is practically a war on the internet between those who advocate 'demand feeding' and those who advocate aiming to create feeding routines - and that's just the advice for the first year of your child's life.  People get highly defensive, I think, because everyone wants to believe they are doing the very best for their child.  

The one mantra all parents can agree on is "I just want my child to be happy". Yet, ironically maybe the reason parenting has become so needlessly… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 29 DECEMBER 2014

We still want our block of land in the suburbs

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There is a tension between those who would like to see greater population density in cities (largely for environmental, transport and economic reasons), and those who defend the right to a backyard and a plot of land well separate from the neighbours.  In big cities such as Auckland, the Council is forging ahead with controversial plans to increase the population density of the traditionally spacious suburbs and putting limits on how far the city can sprawl outside it's current boundaries.  New Zealand is a country where families have been lucky enough to traditionally enjoy a backyard and most still cling to this ideal - some even refusing to consider children before they are financially able to obtain it.  Rising land prices are likely contributing to decreasing fertility rates. 

Apparently Americans feel the same. Recent data shows that metropolitan American has gone from 82% to 86% suburban since 1990.  In fact, the major metropolitan… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

FRIDAY, 26 DECEMBER 2014

EU report points to a new European order

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Over at the UK Telegraph, Jeremy Warner has looked at the latest projections by the European Commission in a very interesting blogpost. According to an extrapolation from current figures, Britain will be Europe’s biggest economy within 45 years, with France in second position and Germany in third. This of course is a change from today where Germany is the preponderant European economic power. 

So what accounts for this shift? Largely, demography. Due to Britain’s higher fertility growth and high numbers of immigrants, Britain is projected to grow its population from 64million to 80million by 2060. France is projected to grow from 66m to 76m over the same period and Germany is projected to shrink from 81m to 71m.  As Warner comments:

“…these relative gains in population would in the commission’s view add around 0.3pc per annum to the UK’s productive potential. By contrast, Germany’s relative loss of population would reduce… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 22 DECEMBER 2014

Population Ageing: Economic Decline

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I’ve just read a fascinating article over at Bloomberg by Clive Crook about the macro-economic effects that the world’s ageing population will have in the next 40-50 years. His argument is that most commentators and politicians and economists have failed to properly appreciate and think through the “unprecedented” (his words) fall in the ratio of working people to retirees. As he notes:

“A remarkable boom in the world's working-age population is ending, and a new boom in the population of retired people has begun. People are living longer; more importantly, when it comes to reshaping the global age structure, they're having fewer children. Today, there are roughly four people of working age for every person aged 60 or over. By 2050, it's estimated there'll be just two.”

Leaving to one side the new financial strains that will come upon most societies as they struggle to pay pensions and healthcare… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

FRIDAY, 19 DECEMBER 2014

Do children have to be so expensive?

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A significant worry for parents-to-be is how many childen they can afford to look after well.  It is a noble concern.  Yet, it is also worth remembering that modelling a 'keeping up with the Jones'' mentality and providing your children with too much is actually detrimental to them - so maybe at least some of your worry is needless.  

Presents somehow sneak their way into being a significant focus for adults and children alike at Christmas time especially.  I'm not overly enjoying watching television at the moment because of the constant advertisements about another "one day only sale" (which is actually on again in two days time!) that blare their way into our living room and our family consciousness.  You might want to re-consider your focus this Christmas season in light of this expert research:

Habitual overindulgence by parents in the long term can have a detrimental effect on… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

WEDNESDAY, 17 DECEMBER 2014

Remembering the dark story of Peru’s population control campaign

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I just stumbled across a documentary about the 300,000 women and 22,000 men forcibly or deceitfully sterilised by population control officials in the government of President Alberto Fujimori in the 1990s.

We can all learn lessons from this ghastly abuse of human rights. Earlier this year the former president, who is currently serving a 25-year jail sentence for crimes against humanity, was exonerated of blame for the sterilization program. The prosecutor said that he could find no evidence that women had been systematically coerced.

The tears of the women in the documentary suggest otherwise. A committee in the US House of Representatives heard evidence in 1998 that the Fujimori government had given doctors quotas for sterilizations. If they failed to reach their goals, then their contracts might be terminated. “Other abuses, such as lack of informed consent, pressure to consent, bonuses per woman sterilized, and trading food for consent, were probably… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

WEDNESDAY, 17 DECEMBER 2014

Rest home residents making a difference

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We have often discussed on this blog the need to utilise our growing aging population.  They have so much talent and wisdom to share, and their community involvement makes a difference to both their lives and the beneficiaries of such projects.  

Today we have a joyful Advent story to share of rest home residents doing just that at a Christchurch primary school.  Click here to watch the TVNZ news clip about the project which screened on New Zealand news recently.  

The residents of a local retirement village (already infamous for their take on the 'Happy' video clip which brought their vivaciousness and love of life to the school principal's attention in the first place!) are volunteering to help children on the school's reading programme.  Without them the school would not be able to offer one-on-one reading help to these children, and the volunteers say that they get a lot out… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 15 DECEMBER 2014

Canadians fighting for family

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We need to wake up if we wish to preserve the traditional family structure, as it erodes further.  As one example, the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada just released a new info-graphic giving an overview of how the traditional family is being transformed in Canada.  For forty years now, there has been a decline in married couples as a portion of all census families there.  In 2011, 67 per cent of Canadian families were headed by a married couple.  That was down from 70 per cent in 2001, and 92 per cent in 1961. 

The change was mostly due to a large increase in “common-law couples”.   Although common- law relationships often lead to marriages, they are generally more short-lived and dissolve more frequently than marriages.  In 2011, for the first time in Canadian history, there were also more single-person households than couple households with children. The average number of children per family decreased from 2.7 in 1961 to 1.9… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

THURSDAY, 11 DECEMBER 2014

Ageing population: some economic silver linings?

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The ageing population of many countries in Western Europe and East Asia is a theme that we have discussed on many occasions on this blog.  A larger proportion of elderly people in a society threatens to place a large economic  burden on pensions and welfare structures that were designed on the assumption that each successive generation would be larger than the last (much like a Ponzi scheme…) However, Sarah Willis has written an interesting article at Open Democracy where she argues that the picture of an ageing society and economy (in this case, the United Kingdom) is not all doom and gloom. 

In short, she argues that those 65 years and older should not be seen purely as an economic burden. Instead we should learn to value our seniors more and see them as a source of experience that is extremely useful for the economy as a whole.  In fact, the… 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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