One place in the US insulated from the recession: West Virginia’s hollows

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As the locals joke sardonically, West Virginia is one of the few places in the US that has barely felt the effects of the current recession. It got there a long time ago. "I think the loss of population is the biggest problem ... we had at one time 13 car dealerships; now we have none," says a state senator. The result? Poverty, drugs, sickness...

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NZ’s Election

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New Zealand went to the polls on Saturday night to elect the 50th parliament in its relatively short history.  As expected, the National party polled highest of the parties at 48%, but was unable to gather an absolute majority and govern in its own right (as most polls were predicting).  This means New Zealand will have a very similar looking governing coalition to what it has had from 2008.  The main opposition party, the Labour party, sunk to just 27%, losing many votes to the Green party and NZ First.

This means that we will not see any raising of the retirement age to 67, a policy that was announced by the Labour party to be one of its electoral planks last month.  As I blogged at the time, for the amount of controversy it generated, the policy was lacking in any real meat.  It kicked in only from… click here to read whole article and make comments



The Brutality of “Population Control”

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About a month ago this tragic story from China surfaced in the Western media (the UK’s Guardian).  It’s a terribly sad story about a mother, Ma Jihong, who died on an operating table in Lijin, Shandong province, when she was forced by state officials to have a late-term abortion.  Why were they forcing her to have an abortion? Because Ma had dared to flout the Chinese one-child policy and was pregnant for the third time. 

Ma knew that she was not allowed to have a third child under the law, but she had seen her neighbours breaking the quota and thought that she could too.  However, on 12 October 2011, 10 family planning officials arrived at her home and forced her to go to the hospital with them.  The story continues:

“She was frightened and panicky, and relatives begged for the procedure to be put off until she had calmed… click here to read whole article and make comments



2 Million Russians turn out for fertility relic

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A few weeks ago Marcus commented on Russia’s enthusiasm for the coming of what is believed to be the belt of the Virgin Mary.   Normally situated at the Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos in Greece, the relic made of camel wool is believed to have the power to boost fertility.  The National Post reports yesterday that the Russian people really have come out in force!  Braving cold and snow, Moscow residents were willing to stand in a 5km line just to touch the belt:

The Moscow authorities said 400,000 people had waited outside Moscow’s vast Cathedral of Christ the Saviour since The Belt of the Virgin Mary relic arrived on Saturday. Around 82,000 were queuing on Thursday alone...

Faced with the lines, the Russian Orthodox Church extended the relic’s stay in Moscow by three days to Sunday.  An intercom announcement on the Moscow metro at the stop nearest to… click here to read whole article and make comments



2.1 Children

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Good afternoon everyone! After last week’s post about Russia’s demographic decline, I thought that I’d share with you a short, little, easy-to-digest video from the Population Research Institute about the total fertility rate, and why modern, western society needs about 2.1 children per woman to reproduce themselves.  Enjoy!

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Eberstadt on Russia’s Demographic Decline

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Over the course of 2011, this blog has from time to time drawn attention to the demographic malaise affecting Russia.  Shannon blogged back in April on the lack of men in that country and how alcohol addiction has played a large part in that problem.  Indeed, the decline in Russian population since the fall of the Iron Curtain has been simply remarkable and unprecedented – it was not without reason that the first international demographic summit was held in Moscow in June this year.  The Russian political leaders have tried to reverse their declining population, including turning to the Virgin Mary for help.

Now, in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, a world renowned demographer, Nicholas Eberstadt, has published a very informative article about Russia, entitled “The Dying Bear” (as you can imagine from the title, he does not envisage a very rosy future for Russia…) Unfortunately, the article… click here to read whole article and make comments



Hispanics revive dwindling Middle America

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It was getting dire for the small towns of Middle America.  Their populations were falling so low that businesses were being boarded up, schools closed and ghost towns were emerging.  More and more people left each year and fewer were born than buried. 

However, the New York Times reports that recently a new trend has breathed life into the region – more and more Hispanic settlers.  Mexican grocery stores are opening behind shuttered storefronts and the schools are being filled with Spanish speaking children.  It has even fallen to the Hispanic population to try to keep the region’s popular American culture alive by serving burgers and fries alongside tacos and burritos, 

Predictably, not everyone is happy by the cultural shift, feeling that the way of life and the traditional culture of the region is being whittled away.

Some longtime residents of Ulysses, where the population of 6,161 is now about half Hispanic,… click here to read whole article and make comments



A view from Pakistan

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Today I thought that I’d share with you a piece from Pakistan - a developing country that could be in line to have a photo of its babies accompany doomsday media pieces announcing massive population increases in the world (see the blog earlier this week for an explanation of what I’m talking about).  Writing in the Pakistan Observer, Khalid Saleem discusses the implications of living in a world of seven billion people and why one can be sceptical of the ‘population control’ meme coming from certain organisations (generally in the West).  Saleem’s argument can perhaps stand as a small antidote to the Western-focussed debate on demography. 

“The world was authoritatively informed that controlling ‘population’ was the sine qua non of economic progress. In simple terms, any nation that that desired to move up the economic ladder was ‘advised’ to take steps to control the growth of its population… click here to read whole article and make comments



Poverty and Population

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Nothing much from me today - instead, for all of you who are more visual learners, here's a video! This is on the beneficial effect that population has on poverty and was produced by the Population Research Institute.  (You can also see another one of their videos in this earlier DID post.) Enjoy!

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Overpopulated, Overbreeding and OverTHERE

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As we’ve hit (or are about to, or did so a while ago, or something...) the seven billion person mark, the tone in the media has palpably been one of fear, unease and impending doom.  The underlying (or sometimes not so underlying) thought process seems to be: “seven billion people do make an awfully large crowd, and the world really can’t support such numbers – we need to do something about it.”  We’ve discussed before that doing “something” usually means trying to stop others from having babies, after all, we in the West (and Japan etc) aren’t contributing to population growth – we’re not even replacing ourselves! No, it’s others (particularly Africans) who need to stop breeding, they can’t even feed themselves! If only they were as educated as we were they wouldn’t have so many babies and they’d realise the joys of having 2.1 kids, or even better, they’d realise the unalloyed… 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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