Part II of the Global War Against Girls – the Rest of the World

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Today I will continue to look at the article by Nicholas Eberstadt in the New Atlantic entitled “The Global War Against Baby Girls”.  On Friday I examined the first part of the article which focussed on the huge imbalance in the Chinese SRB (sex ratio at birth).  Now, I want to turn from the world’s largest country to other countries that are part of this insidious “global war”.  While China has had the one child policy for the last 30 odd years, Eberstadt’s article makes it clear that that is not the only reason for a marked preference for boy babies:

“…coercive family-planning programs are neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for widespread female feticide. This much is evident from SRB trends in East Asia’s four “Little Dragons”: Hong Kong, Singapore (more specifically, Singapore’s ethnic Chinese), South Korea, and Taiwan. All of those societies maintain voluntary family-planning… click here to read whole article and make comments



“The Global War on Baby Girls” Part I

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The first item that I wrote on this blog almost a year ago was about the gender imbalance in parts of Asia (particularly China) and the danger that it could lead to increased nationalism and war in that part of the world. I obviously liked to start the blog off on a happy note…Today, I want to return to that same theme and look at a long piece written by Nicholas Eberstadt and published in the Fall (Autumn for those of us not living in the US) 2011 edition of The New Atlantis.  Eberstadt is someone who we have quoted before – see this earlier blog detailing his article on the demographic decline of Russia.

Eberstadt’s New Atlantis article is provocatively entitled “The Global War Against Baby Girls”.  In it, he details the shocking statistics from various parts of the world that show the results of sex-selective feticide. … click here to read whole article and make comments



Putin Wants More Babies

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According to the Christian Science Monitor, the Russian Prime Minister is seeking re-election to the presidency (for a third term) and is setting out his policy platform.  The fourth of his programmatic articles trying to convince Russians to vote for him in three weeks time (or else!) deals with his plans to reverse Russia’s population decline.  This is a longstanding problem for Russia and one that Putin has had some success in dealing with:

“When he first came to power 12 years ago, Putin inherited a catastrophic population crisis. The number of Russians was shrinking by 0.5 percent each year...But a decade of relative political stability, higher living standards, and public health campaigns have boosted male life expectancy from a 2003 low of 58 years to 63 today, and raised fertility rates from about 1.2 children-per-woman in 2002 to 1.6 in 2011...according to the state statistics service Rosstat.

Despite these successes,… click here to read whole article and make comments



Technology, Heathcare and the Elderly

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After discussing Canada’s latest census figures at the end of last week, I’d like to talk about some more news coming out of Canada today (hopefully this won’t be considered a Canadian overload…if indeed there can possibly be such an affliction).  This latest news is about the cost of an ageing population on the cost of healthcare.  According to Maclean magazine, the major driver of spiralling healthcare is not the ageing of the population, but the cost of health technology:

“As a recent report by the credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s argues, your grandmother’s visits to the doctor aren’t the key driver of health costs. Health technology, however—encompassing anything from drugs to diagnostic imaging—is becoming the great burden on the health systems of G20 countries…

Despite the popular rhetoric about the “gray tsunami” continually bandied about by politicians, there are some three decades of research… click here to read whole article and make comments



Oh Canada!

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Today I woke up to the news that over the last six years the world has got a bit more Canadian. The latest census figures for that great land have been released by Statistics Canada and they show that since 2006 Canada has grown by 5.9%, or 1.9 million people.  This growth rate (the highest for any of the G8 countries) takes Canada’s total population to 33.5 million people.  Some of the highlights of the results are:

  • “[f]or the first time in Canadian history, the proportion of the population living west of Ontario (30.7 per cent) is greater than the number of people living to the east (30.6 per cent)’;
  • British Colombia’s share of the population has reached a new high of 13.1%;
  • Ontario’s share of the population has also reached a new high of 38.4%; 
  • Quebec meanwhile has seen its share of the population dip slightly to 23.6%; 
  • click here to read whole article and make comments



US Centenarians - Not as Common as Once Thought

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New research has been recently published by a group of demographers at the social science research organisation, NORC, at the University of Chicago.  From it we get an insight into the danger of making population projections (or even making current population estimations).  

Now, this research is very technical, but in essence it “contradicts a long-held belief that the morality rate of Americans flattens out above age 80.”  The research, undertaken by a husband and wife team, the Gavrilovs, and published in the current edition of the North American Actuarial Journal, “is based on highly accurate information about the date of birth and the date of death of more than nine million Americans born between 1875 and 1895.”  According to the PR Newswire:

“The key finding is straightforward--the rate of mortality growth with age of the oldest Americans is the same as that for those who are younger. The research… click here to read whole article and make comments



Auckland -1.5 million strong

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A bit of demography news hit the headlines last week close to home.  Recently (no one is really sure when) the population of my home city, Auckland, hit 1.5 million people.  The NZ Herald ran a front page story on a newborn baby, Emily Van Wonderen, who it picked as the 1.5 millionth Aucklander.  (Interestingly enough, the other major New Zealand newspaper website,, picked a different person to be their 1.5 million Aucklander, as did at least one of the TV channels.)

1.5 million strong, Auckland is now far and away New Zealand’s largest city, with one third of the country’s entire population living here.  It is also Australasia’s fifth largest city – behind Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.  Not only is Auckland growing fast (it hit one million people only 16 years ago) but it is also changing in both its ethnic and cultural make up.  It is… click here to read whole article and make comments



A New UN Report on our Impending Overpopulation

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A new report was released on Monday by the UN’s high level panel on global sustainability. Unsurprising its conclusion is that the world’s current economic , environmental and demographic trajectory is wildly unsustainable.  According to the UN estimates, as reported by Reuters:

“[a]s the world's population looks set to grow to nearly 9 billion by 2040 from 7 billion now, and the number of middle-class consumers increases by 3 billion over the next 20 years, the demand for resources will rise exponentially.

Even by 2030, the world will need at least 50 percent more food, 45 percent more energy and 30 percent more water…at a time when a changing environment is creating new limits to supply.”

The threat is that if we do not implement sweeping changes, then we risk “condemning up to 3 billion people into poverty”.  The trouble is that although the world’s economy has… click here to read whole article and make comments



Japanese Earthquakes -  Natural and Demographic

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After last year’s horrific natural disasters, Japan’s government moved away from continuing the child subsidy programme that was introduced in 2009 to try and encourage the Japanese people to have more babies (we blogged about that here).  Now, it is unsurprising that a year later the Earthquake is still having economic repercussions, but its effects are again being linked to the wider demographic problem that is threatening to sink Japan. 

According to The Telegraph:

“Official data to be released overnight is expected to show the country ran a deficit of about $24bn (£15.4bn) in 2011, and has been running a structural shortfall of $3bn a month since the tsunami shut down most of Japan's nuclear industry.”

This is largely because Japan relied on nuclear power for 29% of its electricity before the Fukushima disaster, and had plans to boost this to 50% by 2030.  However, after the nuclear… click here to read whole article and make comments



Bulgaria: Another Demographic Timebomb

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In the midst of continuing gloom throughout the Eurozone, there is more bad news from one of the most recent additions to the EU, Bulgaria.  According to the Sofia News Agency, the demographic and economic slump that is gripping the country may affect the retirement prospects of many working age Bulgarians.  We reported last year on the publication of the most recent Bulgarian census showed that the country’s population had declined by 7% over the past decade.  A more detailed breakdown of the demographic figures by the United Nations shows that the average annual rate of population change is -0.6%, that the crude death rate (deaths per 1,000 population) is 15 and is higher than the crude birth rate of 10 per 1,000 population and finally that the total fertility rate is well below replacement level at 1.5 children per woman.  Compounding this bleak picture is that 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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