Seven Billion People

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As I’m sure you are all aware,(and if not, see here) the world is set to welcome its seven billionth person this year. Or perhaps next year. Or perhaps it has already happened. Or maybe not. Anyway, the population is around the seven billion person mark and the comforting thought that the world’s population is around the six billion range has been disturbed. This has produced a fair amount of angst and some debate about how many more people the Earth can support in the future.  Are the population bomb predictions about to (finally) come true? As the Financial Times comments:

“…the central concerns still revolve around the earth’s human “carrying capacity”. How many people can live sustainably on this planet? Can we feed a global population that is growing by 76m per year and will exceed 9bn by 2050, according to median demographic estimates? And will the growing human… click here to read whole article and make comments



An Ageing Population and the Economy

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A couple of related pieces today that both underline a theme that has been commonplace at Demography is Destiny over the past few months.  If you have to ask what that theme is then you obviously have not been reading with the necessary assiduity and I am not going to help you.

Oh ok, fine, but just this once.  That theme is this: that many countries in the world (and beyond just Western Europe) are in trouble because of their ageing populations.  Far from worrying about an increasing population, many countries in the world are faced with a declining number of workers and a growing number of retirees.  This means that there is less money coming in through taxes and more money being spent on retirement funds and superannuation. 

As I said, two further illustrations of this theme are at hand.  The first illustration comes from Canada, which, although it… click here to read whole article and make comments



Green Inclinations, No Ugandans (GINUs)

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Shannon introduced us to GINKs in her last post. These “Green Inclination, No Kids” people are those who want to keep the environmental footprint of their lives down, so instead of consuming less, buying locally and travelling less, they have decided not to have any kids.

Today, I would like to introduce to another, somewhat related, neologism: GINUs.  This wonderfully Dahl-esque sounding word I propose to mean the following: “Green Inclinations, No Ugandans”.  Now why on Earth would I want to make up such a term?  Some people may take love of the environment a bit far, but none of them want to get rid of Ugandans…do they?

Well, probably not. At least deliberately.  But turning a blind eye - that may be another matter. It seems that someone involved with the UK-based New Forests Company (NFC) has some serious explaining to do, according to this article in the Guardian.  

New… click here to read whole article and make comments



GINKs on the rise?

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Lynsey Hanley makes some interesting points this week about the contradiction between the encouragement to consume everywhere you look - sometimes I wonder if there is any ‘un-billboarded’ space left – and the United Nations’ current crusade to drive down population because of supposed environmental and resource shortage concerns. 

On the one hand we are told not to have children because their carbon footprint is too large, but on the other we are bombarded with advertising and ‘stuff’ for sale everywhere we look.  Inevitably, it the voice of big business that drives much of what feeds into our culture through advertising and promotion, and one does wonder exactly who these voices are.  She comments in The Guardian

In Britain Population Matters, the Green party and the naturalist David Attenborough are united in agreeing that the UK population is too big and needs to be… click here to read whole article and make comments



Seven billion and counting

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Persons coming to the United Nations in the next few weeks will see a large sign attached to the fence near the visitors’ entrance that reads in a bold heading: “7 BILLION” against a background of small photos of people from all over the globe. At the bottom of the sign the UN confidently states the 7 billionth person to arrive on earth will be born on October 31– Halloween! The precise date and number were not established by a tablet-bearing, other-world prophet, but are among the many data churned out by UN bureaucrats, statisticians and media-savvy publicists.

In preparation for the key date, the UN launched its “7 Billion Actions Campaign” on September 14 with a panel discussion on “A world of 7 billion people – Seizing the opportunities and meeting the challenges” organized by (who else?) the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The Executive Director of UNFPA, Nigerian doctor Babatunde Osotimehin, in addition to the usual population… click here to read whole article and make comments



An Approaching Golden Age for Africa?

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The World Cup continues as Namibia plays South Africa tonight.  Disappointingly, this appears not to have made the news in the Namibian newspaper New Era – this exciting rugby match apparently being less newsworthy than the country’s boxing, football, and acrobatic shot-stopping.  However, an interesting article on the Southern African country’s demography did make the news.

Desie Heita reports on a recently released research paper by Simon Freemantle, a senior analyst with Standard Bank's African Political Economy Unit.  In it he emphasises the potential of Africa’s young and fast growing population to fuel Africa’s future economic success.  She reports:

Economists see Namibia, along with Ghana, Cote d‘Ivoire, Malawi, and Mozambique, as countries with “a very high potential to benefit from the demographic dividend over the next two decades”...

Researchers argue that population growth in Africa over the next decades would mainly consist of a young generation that… click here to read whole article and make comments



Lucky Number 60!

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Hello everyone, we have reached the half way point of the pool stage in the Rugby World Cup and the event is still attracting lots of attention and, more importantly, large crowds. For example, about 12 000 people turned up in Invercargill on Saturday to cheer on Argentina and Romania. A great crowd for a city of about 50 000 and for a game between two neutrals. By the way, did I mention that I am part Irish on my maternal grandmother’s side? (Ever since the result on Saturday night when the Irish upset the Australians, every New Zealander it seems is claiming some Irish heritage…I’m just jumping on board!)  

However, the news is not so rugby-saturated that this very counter-cultural story has been buried.  Perhaps its very uniqueness has saved it from news oblivion?   Anyway, we learn that Tere and Mii Tangauru have been blessed with a new grandson (Tere and… click here to read whole article and make comments



Children and Materialism

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After looking at the UNICEF/WHO report into infant mortality in the last Demography is Destiny blog, today I’d like to focus on another UNICEF report that made the news in the UK last week.  This report, entitled Child Wellbeing in the UK, Spain and Sweden: The Role of Inequality and Materialism, presented a damning critique of the UK’s material culture that sees parents “pointlessly” amassing goods for their children to compensate for the lack of time spent with them. This materialism, this reliance on goods, rather than relationships or people, for success and fulfilment has been fingered as one of the underlying causes of last month’s widespread rioting and looting in British cities.

The report, which can be viewed here, interviewed hundreds of children in the UK, Spain and Sweden and it emphasised the fundamental importance of time spent as a family for a child’s development and how… click here to read whole article and make comments



Infant Mortality Rate Drops

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Some good news! This week, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation has released a report this past week showing that the number of boys and girls under 5 years of age who die annually has dropped dramatically from 12 million a year in 1990 to 7.6 million a year in 2010. 

According to the WHO media release, this means that 12 000 fewer children under the age of 5 are dying a day compared to 1990.  Expressed as a proportion of live births, the global under-five mortality rate dropped from 88 deaths per 1,000 to 57. 

Especially dramatic decreases were recorded in those areas of the world with the highest number of child deaths.  For example, for the period 1990-2000, the rate at… click here to read whole article and make comments



The Population Summit in Moscow Revisited

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I am sure that you are all aware (since we covered it on this blog quite a number of times) that there was a Demographic Summit in Moscow at the end of June.  If not, have a look through our archives (search "Moscow").  It was appropriate that the summit was held in Russia, as that county is struggling to cope with a demographic crisis that is seeing its population steadily fall thanks to a low birth rate (and the highest abortion rate in the world) and a low life expectancy.  

This video from the Population Research Institute was shot during the summit and provides an interesting insight into the demographic problems besetting Russia.  Of especial interest was the mortgage lender that has a policy of cutting its interest rates by 0.5% per year for every child that its customers have.  This is a novel way of incentivising people to have more children… 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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