Batman is still fighting crime… in Brazil

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Brazil has come up with a novel way to fight crime – employ Batman.  They are right in thinking something needs to be done.  Brazil has the highest rate of murders committed by youths in the world, almost 8000 more per year than the country in second place - Columbia.  It has the fifth highest number of people in jail. 

However, the route Brazil has chosen to fight crime is novel.  The city of Taubate has hired former soldier, Andre Luiz Pinheiro, to patrol the streets of the city dressed as Batman.  Rather than fighting real life crime though, Batman will play a more indirect role in… click here to read whole article and make comments



Two Interesting Stories

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Good afternoon everyone! Well the cricket series down here in New Zealand is not going too well.  We’re hosting South Africa (who I would argue is the best side in world cricket at the moment) and it’s looking as if the second test is heading towards a fairly comfortable South African win. Once again New Zealand’s wafer thin batting line up has been exposed – although we poor, long-suffering New Zealand supporters can take comfort in the fact that we are facing some of the best fast bowling you can find.  At least we’re not putting up a terrible batting show against a terrible opposition. 

Anyway, to take our minds off the bad cricket news, let’s have a look at a couple of interesting stories that I came across recently that are loosely connected to demography. First, Reuters has reported that a woman in Poland has gone to some extreme lengths to… click here to read whole article and make comments



More food for more people

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One of the problems of a growing global population that needs to be solved is how do we feed all those extra mouths?  We’ve looked at UN reports on this issue. We've also looked at counterviews that actually there is enough food for us all at the moment and the lack of food for many in the world are caused more by waste, inadequate storage and transport infrastructure and wars.  One factor that is constantly ignored by those predicting overpopulation doom is that a growing global population doesn’t just add to the number of mouths to feed. It also adds to the world’s human capital – it adds to the number of minds that can dedicate themselves to solving problems that the world is faced with – problems like a shortage of food, or transport and storage difficulties, or an excess of food wastage.

The number of people who are… click here to read whole article and make comments



Grow for it!

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The New Zealand Institute of Economic Research has just released a report entitled “Grow for it”, which argues that, rather than being worried about increasing population levels, New Zealand should aim to increase its population to 15 million in the next 50 years.  It is interesting that such a report is arguing that higher migration and higher fertility is beneficial - given that all we ever seem to hear is that we should have less children and become smaller for the ‘good of all’ these days.

According to the report a bigger population would help New Zealand offset the “looming fiscal challenges of an ageing population” with better economies of scale.  The best way to do this is through migration which will directly increase the working age population.  Makes sense.

At the moment New Zealand is destined to stay small.  Birth rates will… click here to read whole article and make comments



Baby Boomers and Stocks

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I came across an interesting interview in the Wall Street Journal the other day which highlights another detrimental economic effect from the mass of baby boomers retiring in the next few years.  Robert D Arnott, “a portfolio manager, asset-management executive and inveterate researcher”, claims that baby boomers who have planned ahead for their retirement and have saved and invested wisely will have a slight problem - the returns from these investments that they are relying upon will not be as high as expected. 

“The problem in a nutshell: The ratio of retirees to active workers in the U.S. will balloon. As retirees sell stocks and then bonds to support themselves, there will be fewer younger investors to buy those securities, keeping a lid on prices. Meanwhile, strong demand from boomers and a limited supply of workers will boost the prices of goods and services the boomers need.”

Thus, the price… click here to read whole article and make comments



Oh (French) Canada!

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Last month we blogged here at Demography is Destiny about the latest census figures from Canada.  These figures showed that the population of Canada had grown by 5.9% over the past five years and that that growth was, in large part, driven by immigration.  While Canada as a whole is growing, it does not seem as if the news is that good for the demographic future of French Canadians.  According to David Frum, writing in the Huffington Post,

“[i]n English, the census tells a story of growth and prosperity. In French, the census announces the decline of Quebec's standing in Confederation -- and of the French language's place in North America.”

In both 2001 and 2006 the Canadian cenuses showed declines in the proportion of the population that claimed French as a “mother tongue”.  By 2006, that number was barely 20%.  Frum predicts that once the data… click here to read whole article and make comments



Changing workforce numbers

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Happy Monday everyone! Here in NZ we are recovering from a “weather bomb”. For Auckland, that means that the last couple of days have been some of the best of the summer – and all we needed to do was wait for the autumn. Today I want to return to a drum that has been well beaten on this blog over the last few months. That drum is the phenomenon that is making itself felt in (particularly Western) societies throughout the world – an ageing population and a shrinking workforce.

This small article in the Economist shows the changes that will occur to various countries’ working age populations between 2010 and 2035.  Some countries, the Philippines, Egypt and Malaysia will see the number of their citizens aged 15-64 years old increase by about 40%.  There will be a much larger pool of workers to expand those countries’ economies. Conversely, Germany and Japan… click here to read whole article and make comments



The Propoganda Changes; the Coercion Remains

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The Guardian newspaper is reporting that the Chinese Government is trying to “soften” its public message about its one-child policy. You know the one, that’s helping to cause a huge shortage of female children, involves forced abortion and is not averse to killing the mother in the process.  Unfortunately, the slogans used by the Government to promote this policy often conveyed “coldness, constraint and even threats. They easily caused resentment in people and led to social tension” according to the People’s Daily newspaper. (So they were entirely accurate and appropriate for the policy then?) One typical example of these older public slogans is:

“If sterilisation or abortion demands are rejected, houses will be toppled, cows confiscated”

Instead of threatened demolition of houses and forced confiscation of property, the newer slogans tend to promote the benefits of having fewer children and advocate for gender equality:

click here to read whole article and make comments



Food for All

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Happy Monday everyone! The university year has started again here at Auckland and there are lots of fresh faces waiting with eager anticipation for the knowledge and insights that the university will dispense in the coming months…

Unless they are doing moral philosophy, they will probably not discuss the morality or otherwise of the sting operation that the UK Telegraph undertook recently. That doesn't mean that you get to miss out on that discussion though! I blogged about the results of that operation last Friday, and would be interested in your thoughts – is the secret filming of, and lying to, abortionists entrapment? Do the ends justify the means here? Is this debate merely a distraction and a smokescreen for the terrible facts that were uncovered? What do you think? For my part, I like the view put forward by my fellow mercatornet blogger, Mariette Ulrich in the Family Edge blog.

For some happier news, there… click here to read whole article and make comments



Sex Selective Abortions in the UK

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No, no, I cannot see into the future. Nor do I have a hotline to the UK Telegraph’s investigative reporting team.  It was just sheer dumb luck that the day after I finished a three part series looking into the worldwide phenomenon of sex-selective abortions (see the last three “Demography is Destiny” posts) the story broke in the UK that abortionists were allowing women to abort their babies on the ground of gender. Pregnant women went to various abortion clinics with a reporter posing as a supportive relative who was secretly filming.  There are interesting ethical issues here about the use of secret filming and entrapment.  Or are there? Is this any different from normal “target” style shows that secretly film different customer service representatives to see how they act?

Leaving that to one side, have a look at the story and the videos, which shows abortionists being told explicitly by the patient… 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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