Three vignettes about Christmas and the Demographic Winter

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Demographic Winter: The increased standard of living associated with lower fertility is short-lived. The next generation facing population decline may face lowered economic growth and lower standards of living.

We Baby Boomers rationalized having fewer kids by saying we were Saving the Earth.  As luck would have it, our ecological religion of smaller families allowed us higher incomes and consumption than we could have had any other way.

But we didn’t think through the human reality of that trade-off. Smaller families, more adults living with roommates instead of with families, more loneliness.

“Mrs. Morse, you have two Christmas trees.” 

Yes, we do.  We had an artificial tree. Then we inherited another one from Rob’s mother when she died. We also inherited all her Christmas decorations. So we have two Christmas trees: one in the living room and one in the family room.

My parents raised six children in a three bedroom… click here to read whole article and make comments



Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas Everyone! Shannon and I are away for the next couple of weeks for the Christmas break. We’re taking Thomas down to my parents for Christmas, which will be nice as they haven’t seen him since he was about 2 weeks old (a couple of months ago!) That should be fun, although the weather doesn’t look great – wet and humid. We’ll just have to watch the boxing day test from the MCG and eat lots of food. Sigh. What a tough break.

We’ll be back on Demography is Destiny in early January, so we hope that you have a peaceful and blessed Christmas. If you’re traveling, please do so safely.

See you in 2013!

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Wife Sharing in India

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Today I would like to return to a deeply upsetting theme – the “missing” girls in India as a result of sex-selective abortion and infanticide. We’ve talked about this many times before: here and here are some of the numbers; while we’ve discussed the response to the issue by the UN and by Bollywood  ; and we’ve seen the sterling work done by the Rhema Project and by All Girls Allowed. But this is such a terrible issue and it has so many facets to… click here to read whole article and make comments



An end to Down syndrome in New Zealand?

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As someone who now has an 8 week old baby, I have recently started reading a range of parenting magazines.  It is amazing how supported you can feel by people on a page who appear to have the same questions as you.  I was interested to find an article on Down syndrome screening in New Zealand among the pages of this quarter’s copy of OhBaby! magazine.  It was an article that for once seemed sympathetic to the heartbreak of abortion and gave voice to a mother whose Down syndrome child contributes positively to the community and lives a full life. 

Testing for Down syndrome is now routine in New Zealand - something which you opt out of, rather than opt to have.  That means that fewer and fewer children with Down syndrome are being born.  Is that what the government hopes to achieve by funding a routine test?  Perhaps not, but that is certainly the… click here to read whole article and make comments



A Planet Full of Itchy Feet

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Here’s a question for you: how many people are predicted to be international tourists in 2012? That is, how many people in the world crossed a boundary on purpose, voluntarily and did so for the purpose of tourism (rather than as a refugee or immigrant)?  The reason I’m asking is because I came across the answer the other day in a Reuters article.  Which is lucky for you, because now you won’t have to sit in suspense any longer for the answer.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (a London-based council, the members of which includes executives of travel companies) has compiled global travel data including international airport traffic and visa records and has calculated that in 2012 a record 1 billion people will travel across an international border as a tourist. That’s an incredible number! Roughly one in seven people will thus be tourists this year!  We truly live in… click here to read whole article and make comments



The Making of a Myth

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Hi everyone, it has been a stunning day here in Auckland over the last couple of days. Summer really has arrived I think! My son Thomas is nearly 8 weeks old and is starting to smile, to interact and to make coo-ing noises in response to his parents embarrassing antics – the poor boy doesn’t yet realise that he has many years of fatherly embarrassment ahead of him. All in all, life is good.

We’ve shared with you a few of these short YouTube videos from the Population Research Institute on the food supply, the magic number of 2.1 children, and population and poverty. Here is another short little cartoon about the making of the overpopulation myth. We’ve already scolded the spreaders of this myth recently, so I’ll just leave it for you. Enjoy!

click here to read whole article and make comments



Decline in Child Rearing – “Late-Modern Exhaustion”

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A very good piece from Ross Douthat that appeared in the New York Times a couple of days ago is well worth a read. In it, he discusses the Unites States’ advantage that it has historically had over its rivals: a robust birth rate and expanding population.  As he states:

“It’s a near-universal law that modernity reduces fertility. But compared with the swiftly aging nations of East Asia and Western Europe, the American birthrate has proved consistently resilient, hovering around the level required to keep a population stable or growing over the long run.

America’s demographic edge has a variety of sources: our famous religiosity, our vast interior and wide-open spaces (and the four-bedroom detached houses they make possible), our willingness to welcome immigrants (who tend to have higher birthrates than the native-born).”

However, that is the historic position. Douthat goes on to cast doubt that this demographic advantage… click here to read whole article and make comments



A New Royal

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It appears that there will soon be another Royal addition to the world with the much anticipated news that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby.  According to the BBC, one historian reported it as being the first "duty and ambition" of someone in Kate’s position to produce an heir because “marriages and births are crucial to the very survival of the ancient institution” which is the Royal family.  Although, apparently the importance of the couple having a male baby will be soon be no longer because, regardless of gender, he or she may be third in line to the throne.

Assuming all goes well with the pregnancy, Kate will be 31 when her first baby is born, which is relatively old compared to her earlier Royal counterparts.  Most of these, such as Charles and Diana, had their first child within a year of being married and were… click here to read whole article and make comments



New Zealand: Ghost Towns and Emigrants

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There was a fascinating in-depth piece of journalism the other day by Steve Kilgallon for, probably New Zealand’s leading online source of news.  The piece was fascinating because it was in-depth journalism. New Zealand gets so little of that nowadays that finding any is surprising and worthy of attention.  For our purposes, the piece was fascinating because it was about New Zealand’s population in the future.  An in-depth piece of reporting, in New Zealand, about demography! What a treat! And maybe a sign that the importance of our population in the future is starting to make an impression on people and the media.

Anyway, to the article itself. Although it is provocatively titled “Optimal Size for New Zealand , 15 million” the article… click here to read whole article and make comments


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 humans 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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