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February
17th
  6:22:26 AM

Population ageing affects Hong Kong

The debate in Hong Kong on its population policy is continuing. We’ve mentioned it before on this blog, and the debate isn’t dying down at all.   The South China Morning Post continues to debate the options and likely outcomes for a city which has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world.  As the article states, Hong Kong’s population growth is drying up and the population is growing older:

“The city's population has grown very slowly and is ageing fast. With a population of over 7 million, of which there are 312,000 foreign domestic helpers (8 per cent of the labour force) and an unemployment rate of just over 3 per cent, the labour force will begin to peak in 2018 and steadily decline as the population ages. By 2041,… click here to read whole article and make comments


 
February
16th
  9:02:45 AM

Demography on campus

Demographic issues are increasingly being recognised as important around the world.  In the time that we have been writing this blog, there has been a clear shift in the headlines from gloomy predictions of the end of the world as we know it due to overpopulation, to an increased awareness that our fertility rates are actually below replacement rate in the Western world – and increasingly everywhere else – and the economic and social consequences this shift could bring.  It's an interesting study in media headline 'fads' and the extent to which people buy into them.  Is the media reporting or creating the news?!

Something else I have noticed is an increasing number of universities offering demography courses to undergraduate students.  For example, the Cornell University in the United States has just added demography as an undergraduate minor this semester. 

To recap… click here to read whole article and make comments


 
February
11th
  5:47:49 PM

Iran’s demographic collapse

On my currently ignored Kindle (I’ve refound the joys of the university library – an incredibly rich resource I’m lucky enough to have access to) is a book on my “to-read” list: How Civilisations Die (and How Islam is Dying, Too) by David P Goldman.  I will read it and give you a book review about it sometime soon. In lieu of that, I found (and read!) an article by the same author about Iran’s foreign policy and how it is analogous in some ways to Germany in 1938.  Now, I don’t necessarily share the author’s pessimism, but that could be me not wanting to share it rather than based upon any rational calculation.  Even if you don’t agree with all of Goldman’s analysis, the general picture he paints is grim.

“Dying civilizations are the most dangerous, and Iran… click here to read whole article and make comments


 
February
09th
  5:14:55 PM

The One Child Policy Revisited

We’ve talked many times on this blog about the One Child Policy in China. We’ve discussed its horrendous human cost: the forced abortions; the dead babies and dead mothers; the forced sterilisations; and the drastic curtailment of the Chinese people’s liberty.  We’ve also discussed the social and economic effects - the lack of girls and women, the shrinking labour force and the ageing population.  We’ve also discussed the difficulty that China will have in reversing its low fertility rate anytime soon.  Against all of these horrendous costs, the apologists (and there have been a few in the commentators on this blog) of the policy have posited its one unquestioned boon – the curtailment of China’s runaway population explosion up to 1980.

Well, today I’m going to question… click here to read whole article and make comments


 
February
07th
  2:07:19 PM

The digital revolution is changing the way we pay tax

Consumer spending habits are changing the world over.  More and more of us are turning to our computers or smartphones to find the products and services we want at least some of the time.  Here in New Zealand, I have noticed an explosion of ‘bricks and mortar’ shops shifting their attention to the creation of websites and attracting online sales.  Over the last few years my inbox has slowly become ever more crowded with internet deals, while online websites attempt to entice me with every google search – especially if I have recently been ‘googling’ a product they sell.  Many websites now offer free shipping, further inducing consumers.

This trend is raising questions about how international internet sales should be taxed and what our international taxation system can do to capture the income they earn.  One question is how domestic goods and services taxes are… click here to read whole article and make comments


 
February
03rd
  9:45:10 AM

How does your country rank at the global table?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how overconsumption, misuse of resources and waste are leaving some people obese, while others have very little to eat.  Oxfam has just released an interesting infographic, to go alongside the first index of this kind, which shows broadly how each country eats at the global table.

European countries take up the entire top twenty, with The Netherlands, France and Switzerland making up the top three for overall food quality, affordability and availability.  Angola and Zimbabwe endure the most volatile and uncertain food prices, while the United States enjoys the cheapest and most stable.  Chad in middle Africa was found to be worst off overall.

There is another enlightening interactive graph on the Oxfam Food Index website which ranks each country according to their overall score, whether people have enough to eat, affordability, food quality and… click here to read whole article and make comments


 
January
30th
  6:56:54 AM

How to maintain the brains of aging employees

More companies are investing in their employees’ health as the workforce ages.  Germany’s main rail service, Deutsche Bahn, is one such company that is embracing – or at least accepting – demographic change and an aging workforce.  It wants to keep its experienced workers until they are over 65, so is taking active steps to do so. 

One such step is a programme which includes regular mental and physical exercise for employees who opt into it.  The mental exercise is aimed at increasing memory and maintaining brain function for longer, while the physical exercise is based around strength exercises.  It also involves instruction on nutrition and living well.  Part of the aim is to make employees realise that there are things you can do to age ‘gracefully’ and better.

So far, the programme, which involves the equivalent of five days of work over several months,… click here to read whole article and make comments


 
January
28th
  6:44:52 AM

USA’s childless women

The story of changing fertility and demographic structures is continuing to gain media attention in the US. The Pew Research centre has crunched the numbers from a recent UN report, the World Fertility Report 2012.   

According to the UN’s data, US women who are coming to the end of their childbearing years (40-44 years old) are among the most likely to have to childless compared to similar cohorts around the world.  Among 118 countries with comparable data, only six have higher childless rates than the US’s 19%.  So nearly a fifth of all women in the US in the 40-44 year old age category do not have children, and are unlikely to do so. It would be interesting to note how many of these women made a conscious decision to not have children, how many put the… click here to read whole article and make comments


 
January
26th
  8:48:22 AM

Fewer siblings changes personality

It has long been known that birth order affects personality to some extent.  I remember observing that quite a few of the people I worked with in a corporate firm seemed to be oldest children.  Their younger siblings often enjoyed more relaxed careers, happy to cruise through life a bit more (although they were often very successful at whatever they cruised into, while somehow avoiding all the achievement angst of their older sibling!).  

In fact, some researchers believe birth order is on par with genetics in influencing behaviour.  A recent study published by Oxford University press noted this and among its conclusions was:

When more than one child is studied per family, it is apparent that siblings in the same family experience considerably different environments, in terms of their treatment of each other, in their peer interactions, and perhaps in terms… click here to read whole article and make comments


 
January
23rd
  10:16:38 AM

Chief medical officer warns British women

The British government’s chief medical officer has recently warned women that they may remain childless if they leave having children too late, once again stirring the debate about the rising age of mothers.  It is a sign of the times that her realistic and purely scientific observation caused outrage among many women.  'How dare she tell us that we should be having children?' was the reaction of many.  Have we really become that disconnected from the facts of life and raising a family?  

Women today are much more likely to be focused on their working life or travel than their mothers or grandmothers were.  Having a baby is often seen as a disruption to be postponed ‘just another year until I’ve done…' or 'saved X amount to afford it'.  Some couples have very sound financial reasons for waiting to have children in… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

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