WEDNESDAY, 30 JANUARY 2013

New Head of UN Population Division

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Earlier this month the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (you may have heard of it as “DESA”) received a new director for its Population Division, John R. Wilmoth.  Wilmoth was previously a professor at the University of California at Berkeley and has also worked at the DESA population division before. From 2005-2007 he was Chief of its Mortality Section. (Imagine having that as your job title? “Hello, I’m Chief of the Mortality Section”. I’m sure that that’s a conversation stopper at parties...)

 So what exactly does the Population Division of DESA actually do?  Luckily for all of us, Wilmoth has told us:

“The Population Division serves two key roles, both equally important and unique. First, we produce the “estimates of record” for monitoring world population patterns and trends, including projections of future trends. Our estimates of population size are a critical component of some of the most widely cited indicators used for monitoring social… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

TUESDAY, 29 JANUARY 2013

Fetal health not only a female affair

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While most people are used to considering the female ticking body clock, we tend to think that men have a lot more time.  Though true is one sense, if we want healthy babies maybe they too should be considering the age factor.  An interesting article in the New Republic highlights this issue among many others associated with the rising age of parents – it’s well worth a read.

It has long been known that the risk that a pregnancy will yield a trisomy, such as downs syndrome, rises astronomically as a woman heads towards to her forties.  However, Judith Shulevitz, a first time mother at 37 herself and now concerned by the trend, identifies that new research published this year finds with greater certainty that older men also pass on… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

SUNDAY, 27 JANUARY 2013

Fewer Girls = A More Violent World

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In light of the horrific news that came out of India during New Zealand’s summer holidays, I want to share with you all an impassioned article from the Sydney Morning Herald about the terrible plight of women around the world, and particularly in China and India. The authors, V Rukmini Rao and Lynette Dumble, are from the Gramya Resource Centre for Women in India, a “group of women who are development activists and from the women's movement for equality”. In this article they argue that fewer girls will lead to a more dangerous, violent world: an argument that we ran at the beginning of 2011 on this blog. 

The authors question the optimism of institutions like the World Bank, which claim that the child sex ratios skewed towards males in China and India are peaking and that the “missing girls” phenomenon can be addressed in Asia with “continuing vigorous… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

WEDNESDAY, 23 JANUARY 2013

Humanity is a “plague”: Attenborough

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Sir David Attenborough has taken a break from narrating nature films and has gone back to a very old canard. He recently told the Radio Times in the UK that humans are a “plague on the Earth”. Tell us what you really think Sir David. The full quotation is:

“We are a plague on the Earth. It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now.”

Now, Attenborough is a patron of the Optimum Population Trust according to the… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 21 JANUARY 2013

An Asian population spike

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As has been mentioned formerly on this blog, I am in good company having a baby in this ‘Year of the Dragon’ – or at least have a lot of company.  So much in fact that maternity hospitals in Shanghai are struggling with the demand for beds as reported here in the Atlantic.  If you haven’t already heard, the Dragon is the luckiest year in the Chinese zodiac.  Only recurring every 12th year, the Dragon is the mightiest of the signs, symbolizing such character traits as success and ambition.

An article in the New Zealand Herald back in January last year reported that some women were even seeking sperm donors.  Why should not having a partner get in the way of having a dragon baby?  Although, perhaps not such a lucky baby having no father in its life.   One such young woman, Miss Chuang, reportedly said that "Waiting for a full… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

THURSDAY, 17 JANUARY 2013

USA - An Unhealthy Nation?

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Back in the 1950s, the USA was a leading country when it came to life expectancy and disease. How things change.  A new study has just been published by a team of experts brought together by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council which looked into the health of Americans when compared to 16 other developed nations.  The results were not good if you live in the land of the free. 

Compared to the other nations (including Canada, Japan, Australia, France, Sweden, Germany and Spain) in the report:

“Younger Americans die earlier and live in poorer health than their counterparts in other developed countries, with far higher rates of death from guns, car accidents and drug addiction, according to a new analysis of health and longevity in the United States… The findings were stark. Deaths before age 50 accounted for about two-thirds of the difference in life… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

WEDNESDAY, 16 JANUARY 2013

Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year everyone! I hope that you all had a safe and relaxing Christmas/New Years break and that 2013 has started well for you. We here at Demography is Destiny had a good break with family at a couple of different New Zealand lakes (Taupo and Rotorua). Shannon (not surprisingly) managed to be a stunning Matron of Honour at a friend’s wedding less than ten weeks after giving birth to Thomas and there were lots of grandparents and even great-grandparents ready to take Thomas when he started to get grouchy.  All in all a good time for all of us!

And, since we beat the Mayans, Demography is Destiny will continue into 2013. To start the year off, I have a story from one of our long-time readers and tipsters in Australia (our thoughts go out to our sweltering Australian cousins – the bush fires look pretty bad from over here in… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

SUNDAY, 13 JANUARY 2013

China’s ‘little emperors’ less entrepreneurial

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A recently released Australian study has shown some interesting psychological effects of China’s one child policy; effects which could have economic consequences for China.  The study Little Emperors: Behavioral Impacts of China's One-Child Policy, was published in the journal “Science” and involved 421 Beijing residents born between 1975 and 1983. 

The researchers considered that the one child policy "can be thought of as a natural experiment which enables [them] to separate out the effect of being an only child from the effect of family background".  They used a series of "economic games" to study behaviour traits of children born just before, and just after, the policy was put into place in 1979. 

The study found that individuals who grew up as only children as a result of the policy displayed distinctive behaviour.  Interestingly, it also found that frequent interaction with cousins or friends didn’t reverse the distinctive traits.

The only children were found to be… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

THURSDAY, 10 JANUARY 2013

The real reason for Putin’s US adoption ban?

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orphans

Russian President Vladimir Putin upset a lot of Americans with his December 28 (feast of the Holy Innocents) ban on adoptions to the US -- at the same time ordering his government to take a range of steps to make it easier for Russians to adopt orphans.  The law took effect effect Jan. 1, leaving in legal limbo about 50 children who were in the final phases of adoption.

Why? Putin and officials have cited the deaths of 19 Russian children adopted in the United States in the past 13 years (that's out of about 45,000), but it is also widely seen as retaliation at another level. The Wall Street Journal says:

The adoption ban was included in a package of measures the Kremlin pushed through parliament to retaliate for a new U.S. law aimed at punishing alleged Russian human-rights violators. That law was named for Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who… 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 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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