A growing socioeconomic divide between parents

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A New York Times blogger raises interesting questions this week about the effect on us all of the growing socioeconomic divide between parents.  That is, more and more educated, well off woman will just be becoming mothers as their less well off, less educated peers are becoming grandmothers.

This week the United States released a government report which shows that pregnancy rates among older women – those aged 40 to 44 – have increased by nearly 65 percent in the period between 1990 and 2008.  Pregnancy rates for women in their early 20s have also declined to the lowest level in more than three decades.  This shows a general and well-recognised trend for women to have babies at a later age after they have established their careers and perceive themselves to be well off enough to have a baby.  No doubt… click here to read whole article and make comments



Our Expanding Population

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I saw on the breakfast news yesterday morning a report about the biomass of humanity. What was particularly interesting was that the report made the connection between our eating habits and lifestyles and the effect we have on the planet. One of the report’s authors mentioned that when we think about our population we think only in terms of “mouths to feed”.  But as this report shows, when it comes to using the planet’s resources, not all mouths are equal.

The report, published here in BioMed Central, sets out the not very shocking observation that some countries’ populations are more overweight than others.  But this has an impact on our energy consumption. As the authors state:

“The energy requirement of each a function of the number of organisms and their average mass.  In ecology, these factors are often considered together by estimating species biomass, the total mass of living… click here to read whole article and make comments


MONDAY, 18 JUNE 2012

Is Rural New Zealand Dying Out?

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Once a year in New Zealand the National Agricultural Fieldays are held in the Waikato (a couple of hours south of Auckland).  At the Fieldays you can find all manner of things rural. Farmers come to buy tractors, to look at new inventions and generally to catch up with people, procedures and things in the farming world. For some reason when I was little (about ten years old) I thought that going to the Fieldays would be awesome, up there with visiting Disneyland. Only in New Zealand I suppose.

This year though demography stuck its ubiquitous head in the door at Fieldays.  The Waikato University organised a seminar by Dr Jacques Poot, a professor of population economics at the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis.  Over the next 20 years, according to Poot, New Zealand’s rural areas are doomed to age and to shrink.  Currently 86% of New Zealand’s population is… click here to read whole article and make comments


MONDAY, 18 JUNE 2012

Talking about budget cuts, how about population cuts?

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Plenty of radical environmentalists, earth-worshippers, and Green extremists seriously believe that mankind is the problem, and must be dealt with – ruthlessly. Consider the latest example. The billion founder of CNN, Ted Turner, has long been on record as bit of a green nutter here, and he is at it again. Consider these opening paragraphs from a recent report:

“Media mogul and population control advocate Ted Turner recently told citizen journalists he would like to reduce the world’s population by five billion people, asking parents to be a ‘one child family… for 100 years.’ Turner had to answer for his history of provocative statements, and made a few new ones, when members of the website wearechange caught up with him on camera late last month.

“One individual asked the CNN founder what his goal was for world population. ‘I think two billion is about right,’ Turner said as he… click here to read whole article and make comments



A rise in ‘fertility tourism’

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An article on the front page of the New Zealand Herald this week reports that more and more women desperate to have babies in New Zealand are going overseas to find egg donors. For example, in the past year about 30 couples have travelled to the San Diego Fertility Centre in the United States for egg donation.

It seems that the main reason overseas ‘egg markets’ are more lucrative is because women are allowed to be paid for their eggs, while in New Zealand this is currently not allowed. Another issue is that New Zealand women who don’t yet have their own families are discouraged from donating eggs because the process may compromise their own fertility.  However, older women’s eggs are less likely to result in successful pregnancy.

The New Zealand Herald reports that in the United States women in their early 20s can earn up to US$10,000 for their eggs:

click here to read whole article and make comments



Sex Selective Abortion in the USA

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Hello everyone! I haven’t mentioned this, but I couldn’t let the recent American House of Representative’s decision to not make sex-selective abortions illegal pass without comment.  Sheila Liaugminas has blogged on it in depth here, so I won’t talk much more about it. So instead I thought that I would link to the YouTube clip of Steven Mosher of the Population Research Institute (who we’ve blogged about before) testifying before a House subcommittee on sex-selective abortions. He makes the point that often women in certain ethnic communities (Indian, Chinese and Korean) are pressured into aborting girls by their families.  Sometimes this pressure takes the form of violence. Thus, the argument runs, making sex-selective abortion illegal would make it harder for this pressure to be brought to bear (or at least less likely… click here to read whole article and make comments



We are doomed unless we get some Global Leadership (and Condoms)

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Another day, another doomsday prediction. Having said that, the Mayan end-of-the-world thing in 2012 seems to have gone quiet. Almost like people realised that all that 2012-bruhaha was rubbish (the movie and the predictions).  But this doomsday scenario is less about that guy from Hi-Fidelity and CGI and more about overpopulation.  According to the UK’s Mail Online:

“Rising populations are driving Earth towards a 'tipping point' where species we depend on die out, says a committee of 22 scientists - hitting industries such as fishing, agriculture, forestry and water. Some areas of the planet may already be so overpopulated as to be beyond hope - and once the planet is more than 50% under tarmac and agriculture, the results could be global disaster.”

Apparently small-scale ecosystems have shown that once 50-90% has been altered, the entire ecosystem tips irreversibly “into a state far different from the original, in terms of… click here to read whole article and make comments



Claphappy Superbugs!

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Gonorrhea. It’s a very common STI, so common in fact that we even give it a common name – “the clap”.  If you’re interested in obscure etymology (and who isn’t?) then you should look at this article for an eye-watering discussion on the origins of Gonorrhea’s nickname.  Every year around 106 million people are infected with the disease globally (around 700,000 in the US alone).  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) these poor unfortunates may suffer bleeding, pain when urinating or a discharge.  More seriously:

“Untreated, [gonorrhoea] can cause complications such as infertility, infections, stillbirths and increased susceptibility to HIV infection. Babies born to mothers with gonorrhea have a 30 to 50 percent chance of developing eye infections, and potentially blindness.”

Furthermore, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in women which in turn increases the risk of ectopic pregnancies which… click here to read whole article and make comments



Ageing population? What ageing population?

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The French cabinet has recently announced that workers who enter employment at the age of 18 will be able to retire when they reach 60 years of age, rather than 62.  The newly elected French President, Francois Hollande, promised during the election campaign to reverse the two year rise in the retirement age introduced in 2010 by Nicolas Sarkozy.   How will the French government afford this, especially as the Eurozone lurches from crisis to crisis? Apparently there will be a rise in taxes:

“The €1.1bn (£890m) annual cost up to 2017 - €3bn thereafter - will be met by a 0.1 percentage point rise in payroll charges, amounting to an extra €2 a month on the average monthly French net salary of €1,600, it said.”

(As an aside, other tax changes may have unwanted consequences for the new French administration.)  The lowering of the retirement age is an interesting… click here to read whole article and make comments



Turkish Prime Minister Angry that Promoters of Abortion Crippling Economic Success

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Turkey’s Prime Minister has expressed his anti-abortion stance in surprisingly strong words for a politician, albeit an Islamic one, linking the procedure to murder and saying the resulting curb in population growth is ‘crippling’ for Turkey’s economy.   Abortion has been legal in Turkey for the last 40 years.  For us in New Zealand, it is hard to imagine a politician or judge standing up for the rights of the baby in the womb – a ‘foetus’ is not defined as a legal person here.  It is also interesting that the tide seems to be turning on the population debate in that politicians are starting to link economic success and population growth. 

Turkey’s cabinet is currently debating a report by the Health Ministry which may result in abortion either being made illegal, or legal only in the first ten weeks of pregnancy in certain cases.  The Health Minister squarely backs the Prime Minister saying 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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