Japanese Village of the Dolls

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From the weird, creepy and yet true file (a very bulky file) comes today’s blogpost story. Japan, as we have talked about many times before (you can search these blogposts for yourself, they are all there in the archives) has a demographic problem. In short, its people are not having enough babies to sustain the current population. Further, the country is not prepared to allow large-scale migration and so the population succour that this approach brings other nations with low brithrates – mainly in Western Europe – is missed in Japan.  As people are also living longer, the country is faced with a shrinking population and an ageing population.  As the Guardian notes the Japanese population decline is getting worse:

“The country’s skewed demographics were highlighted again recently in data showing that the number of newborn babies sank to a record low last year.

click here to read whole article and make comments



Retirement a distant dream for some

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In many cultures children have traditionally been expected to look after their elderly parents. I think it is lovely tradition that it would be a shame to lose. However, more and more elderly people are finding themselves working long past traditional retirement ages, largely because there are fewer and fewer children to support them.

Now the Singaporean government has actually actively legislated to encourage people to work longer.  It has just made it mandatory for companies to offer three more years of work to those turning 62, the official retirement age, and plans to extend that to five years by 2017.  It is the latest attempt to try to address the country's labour shortfall.  

Last year a committee for the employability of older workers also created an advertising campaign starring a 65-year-old lifeguard (see the image above), a 76-year-old assistant inventory manager and a 60-year-old salmon filleter.  The campaign… click here to read whole article and make comments



Where to now for European Immigration?

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Last week’s attacks in Paris have demonstrated again the potential dangers that many see in large scale immigration into Europe.  Even before the attacks took place, we have seen in Germany the rise of the “Pegida” movement which has been campaigning against what they claim is the ongoing Islamisation of Europe.  Tensions between native populations and immigrants are one of the downsides of large scale immigration, and yet Germany is one country which needs immigration to keep its population from falling due to its very low fertility rate. As we reported last year, immigration to Germany is going through what some describe as a “boom” and is now the second most popular destination for immigrants (after the US).  Yet many in Germany, and elsewhere in Europe, are worried about the large numbers of Muslim immigrants in their countries. Worries heightened by the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

As Caroline Wyatt of… click here to read whole article and make comments



London’s population milestone

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The biggest pressure is expected to be on housing, with an estimated 42,000 new homes needed every year to keep pace with population growth.

Just before the start of the Second World War London had the largest population in its history: just over 8.6 million people.  This peak was reached after two decades of extremely fast growth.  However, with the onset of war in September 1939 its population dropped with evacuations from the threat of bombing and men leaving to join the colours.  After the war, planners encouraged Londoners to move to new towns throughout England. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, London’s population had declined by two million people to 6.6 million.  Now, however London has rebounded in the last 30 years or so and is set to overtake the 1939 population peak according to the London Evening Standard. And according to Barney Stringer, director of planning consultancy Quod:

click here to read whole article and make comments



What does the rest of the century hold?

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To start the New Year, let’s have a look at the difficulty of predicting global population growth deep into the 21st century. This is important to remember when we consider what policies should be adopted based upon population predictions for decades away.  In short, trying to figure out what population a country or the world will have and which countries will grow and which will shrink is a tricky business. And this is not surprising when we consider the intensely personal nature of a couple’s decision to have a child and the myriad of factors that go into that decision: financial, religious, chance.  And of course that is just thinking about children that are planned by their parents.  Thus, we must be careful when we think and talk about population predictions and the policies crafted to deal with these predictions. (Particularly when those policies involve enforced sterilisation or abortion – as we see… click here to read whole article and make comments



Happy 2015!

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Dear readers, can you believe that it is 2015 already? We at Demography is Destiny hope that you have all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year break. Down here in New Zealand it is the summer break and most people take 2 - 3 weeks off at this time (many offices close which means that their employees have to take their annual leave now). We've had some fantastic weather over the last week or so which has been great for the various holiday festivities.

We had a lovely Chirstmas day with Shannon's family here in Auckland. Thomas enjoyed his first Christmas where he kind of knew what was going on ("Jesus' birthday!" which means "presents!") Henry is only six weeks old and so the relaxing break has not really materialised for us this year (babies don't seem to take a holiday from waking up in the night...who would've thought...) However, we are… click here to read whole article and make comments



Happiness is an elusive goal

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As we approach a new year, and you spend time with family and friends for the holidays, you might be considering some new goals for your children.  It is beneficial to have some consistent strategies for the diverse little personalities in your life.  However, parenting strategies can be highly confusing.  It wasn't until I had my first baby that I realised that there is practically a war on the internet between those who advocate 'demand feeding' and those who advocate aiming to create feeding routines - and that's just the advice for the first year of your child's life.  People get highly defensive, I think, because everyone wants to believe they are doing the very best for their child.  

The one mantra all parents can agree on is "I just want my child to be happy". Yet, ironically maybe the reason parenting has become so needlessly… click here to read whole article and make comments



We still want our block of land in the suburbs

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There is a tension between those who would like to see greater population density in cities (largely for environmental, transport and economic reasons), and those who defend the right to a backyard and a plot of land well separate from the neighbours.  In big cities such as Auckland, the Council is forging ahead with controversial plans to increase the population density of the traditionally spacious suburbs and putting limits on how far the city can sprawl outside it's current boundaries.  New Zealand is a country where families have been lucky enough to traditionally enjoy a backyard and most still cling to this ideal - some even refusing to consider children before they are financially able to obtain it.  Rising land prices are likely contributing to decreasing fertility rates. 

Apparently Americans feel the same. Recent data shows that metropolitan American has gone from 82% to 86% suburban since 1990.  In fact, the major metropolitan… click here to read whole article and make comments



EU report points to a new European order

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Over at the UK Telegraph, Jeremy Warner has looked at the latest projections by the European Commission in a very interesting blogpost. According to an extrapolation from current figures, Britain will be Europe’s biggest economy within 45 years, with France in second position and Germany in third. This of course is a change from today where Germany is the preponderant European economic power. 

So what accounts for this shift? Largely, demography. Due to Britain’s higher fertility growth and high numbers of immigrants, Britain is projected to grow its population from 64million to 80million by 2060. France is projected to grow from 66m to76m over the same period and Germany is projected to shrink from 81m to 71m.  As Warner comments:

“…these relative gains in population would in the commission’s view add around 0.3pc per annum to the UK’s productive potential. By contrast, Germany’s relative loss of population would reduce its… click here to read whole article and make comments



Population Ageing: Economic Decline

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I’ve just read a fascinating article over at Bloomberg by Clive Crook about the macro-economic effects that the world’s ageing population will have in the next 40-50 years. His argument is that most commentators and politicians and economists have failed to properly appreciate and think through the “unprecedented” (his words) fall in the ratio of working people to retirees. As he notes:

“A remarkable boom in the world's working-age population is ending, and a new boom in the population of retired people has begun. People are living longer; more importantly, when it comes to reshaping the global age structure, they're having fewer children. Today, there are roughly four people of working age for every person aged 60 or over. By 2050, it's estimated there'll be just two.”

Leaving to one side the new financial strains that will come upon most societies as they struggle to pay pensions and healthcare… 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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