Is Japan’s Population Decline Worse than Previously Thought?

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Is Japan’s Population Decline Worse than Previously Thought? That was my first question when I saw this semi-amusing story from the Daily Yomiuri Online.  The former Deputy Mayor of the town of Higashiura, in the Aichi Prefecture in Honshu, Japan has been arrested “on suspicion he deliberately padded the town's population data in the 2010 census.”  The town was aiming to be upgraded to the administrative status of a city, a goal which requires a population of at least 50,000 citizens.  According to the Daily Yomiuri Online:

“The Aichi prefectural police department arrested Hideo Ogisu, 63, on Friday for his alleged violation of the Statistics Act. Ogisu has denied the charge, saying he never instructed or approved any misconduct, according to sources familiar with the investigation. But town officials who were in charge of the census said in voluntary questioning by the police that they were instructed by Ogisu to overstate the… click here to read whole article and make comments



I Won’t Mention the “E-Word” Again! Promise!

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I promise that it will be the last time that I mention Paul Ehrlich on this blog, but I couldn’t help it when I saw his latest doom-projections in the Scotsman:

“But our guess is that the most serious threat to global sustainability in the next few decades will be one on which there is widespread agreement: the growing difficulty of avoiding large-scale famines... In fact, virtually all such warnings, in our view, underestimate the food problem. For example, micronutrient deficiencies may afflict as many as two billion additional people... Perhaps most important, virtually all analyses assume that the human population will grow by 2.5 billion people by 2050, rather than seeking ways to reduce that number. The optimism of many analysts concerning our ability to feed these additional billions is quite disturbing. ”

Of course, considering Paul Ehrlich was predicting wide spread famine that… click here to read whole article and make comments



Canadians argue for family taxation

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It seems that in Canada tough family finances are getting in the way of people having more children, even though they would actually like to do so.  This needs to change if we are to overcome the problem of population aging. 

A recent study performed by the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada (IMFC) has found that, like in so many countries, population aging, not overpopulation, is the real problem. According to the study, in 2010 Canada needed 109,000 more babies to reach the replacement rate and that, altogether, 1,022,971 more babies would have been needed since 2002 to do so. It is well recognised that inverted pyramid type numbers like these will cause economic problems when the baby boomers begin… click here to read whole article and make comments



Singapore’s rocky search for more migrants

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The effects of a chronically low birth rate are being felt in Singapore. TVNZ has reported that one of the island nation’s largest ever protests was held recently (at least 4000 people) to object to the government’s immigration policies and growing income disparities. This in reaction to a recent governmental discussion document:

“Parliament in the highly regimented city state last week approved a white paper that said the island's population of 5.3 million could grow by as much as 30% to 6.9 million by 2030, mostly through foreign workers to offset a chronically low birth rate.

Critics say the island is already too crowded, with a population density exceeding that of rival Asian business centre Hong Kong. They blame the flood of foreigners over the past decade for stagnant wages, crowded trains and rising prices that put housing beyond the reach of the average Singaporean and say further inflows… click here to read whole article and make comments



Hey! Old People! Stop being a burden on the rest of us!

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Among the hustle and bustle of the start to the year (it’s been a brilliant summer here and we’re enjoying little Thomas being a very cute little four month old) I forgot to blog about this little gem of a quotation:

"Heaven forbid if you are forced to live on when you want to die. I would wake up feeling increasingly bad knowing that [treatment] was all being paid for by the government," he said during a meeting of the national council on social security reforms. "The problem won't be solved unless you let them hurry up and die."

What a great quotation! The “problem” of having to pay for old people won’t be “solved” unless you “let them [old people]” “Hurry up and die”. The person might have well have said that they had come up with a "final solution" to his country’s elderly… click here to read whole article and make comments



Can we always trust the statistics we read?

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Self proclaimed atheist, Brendan O’Neill, is famous for his satirical criticism of the movement that would say that children are a burden on the planet and old people should in some cases be euthanized to reduce their impact.  His book “Can I Recycle My Granny?: And 39 Other Eco-Dilemmas” looks to be an amusing, if somewhat light, read (I can’t say that I have read it myself). 

While perhaps not strictly demography, his latest article in The Telegraph is an interesting critique of how widely circulated and believed statistics can turn out to be quite wrong.  He points out in his opinion piece yesterday the fairly shocking news that the image of the Magdalene laundries in Ireland promoted by the media has been found to be false:

The publication last week of the Irish government's… click here to read whole article and make comments



Too Old to Work?

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Like many people, I was completely taken by surprise by the Pope’s announcement that he would be resigning at the end of February. Characteristically, when Benedict XVI explained his decision, it made perfect sense: he is getting too old and frail for the demands of an extremely arduous position. The decision does raise the question of how old is too old to do the job that you are in? The answer is an important one as the life expectancy of people around the world rises. One way to reduce the economic burden of an ageing population is to readjust what we consider to be old and therefore the age at which we expect people to retire at. For many countries, including the one I am living in, the retirement age is 65, but if you retire today at 65 you can expect to live for at least… click here to read whole article and make comments



Family friendly policies the answer to demographic woes?

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This week I recommend you to an interesting interview conducted by John Rosen on the Wall Street Journal website with the author of a new book called “What to expect when no one’s expecting”.  You can find it here.  The author, Jonathan Last, succinctly summarises many of the challenges facing the world as a result of low birth rates.  We only have to look like countries like Greece to see that we can’t afford entitlements, for example, without a young working population paying taxes.  The article puts it well:

Forget the debt ceiling. Forget the fiscal cliff, the sequestration cliff and the entitlement cliff. Those are all just symptoms. What America really faces is a demographic cliff: The root cause of most of our problems is our declining fertility rate.

click here to read whole article and make comments



Waitangi Day and Japan

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Happy Waitangi Day everyone! For those of you unfamiliar with the celebration, it is a public holiday here in New Zealand, commemorating the day in 1840 when the Treaty of Waitangi (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) was signed between certain Maori chiefs in Northland and the British Crown. This paved the way for New Zealand to become a British colony and is widely considered to be New Zealand’s founding document. The Treaty is still of immense importance to New Zealand today as both Parliament and the Courts have had, since the 1970s, regard to the “principles” of the Treaty of Waitangi when enacting or interpreting legislation. What these “principles” are is another matter, and unfortunately Waitangi Day is not only a day off here, but also a day when political grievances are aired and protests occur (particularly up at the marae, or meeting house, where the Treaty was signed).

Anyway, the upshot… click here to read whole article and make comments



UK Government: Please, Don’t Come! Part II

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Last week we brought you the news that the UK government was thinking of using a negative advertising campaign to deter potential immigrants from Romania and Bulgaria. While the article was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, (it included a series of suggested negative posters from UK residents – they were mainly weather-related) the Romanian government is not finding it very funny. 

Titus Corlatean, the gloriously-named Romanian foreign minister, has sought assurances from the British government that the UK would comply with its obligations under EU law.  Corlatean has been assured that the negative advertising campaign will not go ahead, but the issue of restrictions on access to the NHS has been raised. 

Over the past seven years 100,000 Romanians have moved to the UK, out of 3 million Romanians living abroad. However, the fear for some in the UK is that once the transitional arrangements restricting the rights of Bulgarian and Romanian… 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 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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