Too much Christmas pudding?

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Late December is traditionally the time when one starts to make resolutions to start eating healthily again after the food packed days that have come before.  Or perhaps we can put it off for just a few more days – early January perhaps?  In any case, according to the The Economist it is no longer just the Western world whose waistlines are widening.  Surprisingly, South Africa has become one of the world's fattest countries, despite the poverty of so many of its citizens.  It reports:

Though 40% of its 50m people live off less than $2 a day, South Africa has become one of the world’s fattest countries. Six out of ten South Africans are now clinically overweight or obese, according to a recent survey by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a pharmaceutical company. So, apparently, are a quarter of teenagers and one in six children under nine. Another study, by London’s Imperial… click here to read whole article and make comments



Christian Demography

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Hello everyone! I apologise for the recent radio silence on the Demography is Destiny blog, but we have been a little busy lately with getting married and honeymoon, new house to move into etc etc.  Thanks must go to Michael Cook, in whose very competent hands the blog was left over the last couple of weeks.

Anyway, back to the wonderfully varied and interesting world of demography! In the lead up to Christmas, the Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life has released a report on the demographic breakdown of Christianity in the world.  The report can be found here on the Pew website and comes with interactive maps and even a quiz.  Some of the more interesting findings is that there are about 2.2 billion Christians in the world – nearly a third of Earth’s population.  This proportion is roughly similar to that occupied by Christians in 1910.  The largest… click here to read whole article and make comments



Must-watch video: If kids are so damn expensive why does our China need a one-child policy?

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Singer Chuanzi (real name 姜亚川 Jiang Yachuan) was a troubled teen who ended up in jail. But after being released, he forged a new career as an entertainer. When he appeared on China’s Got Talent with his singing dog “Dudu” he became an instant hit. “Zheng Qianhua” is one of his best known songs. It's about a new father who names his daughter “Zheng Qianhua,” which literally means, “to earn the money to spend.” 

“I have a friend surnamed Zheng who was very happy at the birth of his daughter. He wanted me to help him write a song for her. So I asked him what her name was, he said Zheng Qianhua. I was so surprised I didn’t believe it, but he swore it was true. And he wanted me to write his daughter into a song. My friend has guts, and I promised him I would, so I wrote ‘Zheng Qianhua.’”

It's a simple song, but its economic analysis… click here to read whole article and make comments



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...

click here to read whole article and make comments



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!

click here to read whole article and make comments



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


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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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