Shengnu women and boyfriends for rent

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We've talked before on this blog about the fact that China has a gender imbalance problem in favour of boys. This is due to a cultural preference for boys allied to modern ultrasound technology which allows one to abort a baby of the “wrong” gender (exacerbated by the pressures of the one-child policy). While that means that there will be a surplus of marriage-aged men in the not too distant future in China as a whole, the paradoxical reality is that many Chinese women, especially in urban areas, are finding it hard to avoid being labelled as “shengnu” or “leftover women”. This is something we've also brought up before (see here and here). 

On a similar topic, there is another aspect of this shengnu phenomenon at the Foreign Affairs magazine. Clarissa Sebag Montefiore reports that the largest Chinese online marketplace, Taobao, now advertises “boyfriends for hire”.

“Men offer their… click here to read whole article and make comments



Global population decline in 100 years

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pop declineAleksandra Alekseeva |

George Friedman is the Chairman of Stratfor and his (free) Geopolitical Weekly articles often appear in Mercatornet. I always enjoy reading them. He has recently written on demography and the long term implications of a declining world population. “Global Decline and the Great Economic Reversal” is an interesting read and I strongly recommend that you have a look at it. The key points that Friedman makes are the following:

1. Population decline is happening and it is happening around the globe:

In fact, the entire global population explosion is ending. In virtually all societies, from the poorest to the wealthiest, the birthrate among women has been declining.

By the end of this century, Friedman predicts, all countries will be at 2.1 births per woman or below (that is, at or below the rate of replacement).

click here to read whole article and make comments



More money in the bank means fewer babies

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Statistics have recently confirmed that the New Zealand total fertility rate fell last year from 2.01 babies per woman in 2013 to just 1.92.  What is interesting is that fertility rates are lowest among women who are educated and receive higher incomes in many countries around the world.  New Zealand demographer, Ian Pool, notes that fertility rates are now lowest where women are better educated, have higher incomes and are more likely to be in paid work.    

One would think that those who have more money would feel that they are able to afford to have more children.  These statistics indicate that the recession is definitely not all that is at play with people putting off having children.  They also suggest once again that women feel undervalued when spending time bringing up children, and valued more by society in their jobs.  So they tend to limit their families and, in some cases, put off having children until it is… click here to read whole article and make comments



Mo Yan, Frogs, and the one child policy

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Back in 2012, Michael wrote a piece about Guan Moye, the Chinese author who writes under the pen name of Mo Yan, who was the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature that year. He wrote a novel entitled Wa, or “Frogs” which has just been translated into English and has been reviewed in the New York Times Sunday Book Review. What is interesting about this book from our point of view is that Guan Moye/Mo Yan is critical of the Chinese one child policy and the book portrays aspects of the horrific policy and its effects on both abortionists and mothers.

Although Guan Moye has received criticism for becoming a Communist Party lacky (for becoming Vice-Chairman of the state writers'… click here to read whole article and make comments



Italy: a “dying country”

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The Italian health minister has recently said some alarming words about her country's demographic outlook:

We are very close to the threshold of non-renewal where the people dying are not replaced by new-borns. That means we are a dying country,” Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin said.

This situation has enormous implications for every sector: the economy, society, health, pensions, just to give a few examples,” Lorenzin said.

We need a wake-up call and a real change of culture to turn the trend around in the coming years, added the minister. 

What has caused this pessimistic outburst from Lorenzin has been the news that 2014 saw fewer Italian babies born than in any other year since 1861 when the modern Italian state was formed. The Italian national statistics office ISTAT released figures last week showing that the number of live births last… click here to read whole article and make comments



Super Women

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An article published in The Daily Mail today laments that women increasingly base their self-worth on the success of their working lives, labelling this a "toxic legacy of the feminist Superwoman".  It asks the question: "Career women insist feminism means ALL women having jobs, but could that belief blight the lives of mothers – and their children?".  

It is a question worth asking.  How much must women do to realise their true worth and live great lives?  Even government policy is so often now pointed towards encouraging women back into work, increasing economic 'productivity' (forgetting, perhaps, that a working age, tax paying population is a direct result of mothers bringing up children and stable family life), and making regular counts of the numbers of women in top corporate and government positions to show how far we have come.

All this makes it easy for women to feel that… click here to read whole article and make comments



An ageing Britain: Is the NHS creaking under the strain?

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With an ageing population in many nations, the ability of our health systems to cope with the added demands that large numbers of elderly patients bring with them is in the spotlight.  The NHS is seen as one of the wonders of British post-war society (even making an appearance in the opening ceremony of the London Olympics).  So when the medical director of the NHS warns that it will be unable to cope unless large-scale changes are made, then it is not surprising that Britons are sitting up and listening.  The Guardian reports:

“Prof Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the NHS in England, said that without massive changes to the way the NHS treats patients, including far less reliance on hospitals, the service risked becoming unaffordable and could see its entirely taxpayer-funded status challenged.”

In Keogh’s view, what is needed is for resources… click here to read whole article and make comments



Breaking the “two” barrier in Germany

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One of the last places in the world you would expect to have many large families is Germany. German women have, on average, only 1.4 children each, and one in five women will remain childless. Chancellor Angela Merkel is one of those. By contrast, one of her chief ministers, Ursula von der Leyen, has seven children.

Probably there are not many families of that size in the country, but there are a substantial number with three or more -- about 1.4 million, making up 12 percent of all families with children, according to this infographic on the website of the German Association of Large Families (KRFD). And remember, three kids qualifies as a “large family” these days.

With the country’s population declining in recent years – in spite of immigration, which the native Germans are getting somewhat restless about anyway – you would think the nation would be grateful to those… click here to read whole article and make comments



Improved economy not improving US fertility rates

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Apparently many believed that the United States birth rate would recover once the economy does.  However, now that the economy and average wages are indeed starting to go up, it seems that the fertility rate remains stubbornly low. 

Many commentators are surprised that the birth rate has been found to have again dropped to a historic low in 2013.  The crude birthrate—the number of births each year per thousand women ages 15-44—fell to 62.5 in 2013, which is the lowest level ever recorded.   Commentators are starting to wonder if more than the economy might be at play here.  Forbes reports: “What concerns experts is not the fall itself, but the fact that it accelerated when we were supposedly experiencing an economic recovery”. 

A decrease in immigration levels might be partly to blame for this post-recession drop.  It has been immigrants that have been sustaining US fertility rates – and indeed the overall… click here to read whole article and make comments



An answer for low Russian birthrates?

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Although there is some vigorous debate between demographers about the state of the Russian demographic crisis (we've covered some of the recent sparring here) there is no doubt that the Russian population has declined markedly since the fall of the Soviet Union. As this article in the Japan Times states:

“Russia’s population has been declining since the mid-1990s, hit by falling birth rates and life expectancy in the chaos that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. It currently stands at 142.5 million, compared with 148.7 million in 1991.”

This represents a drop of just over 4% in 20-odd years. The relatively low Russian birth rate is affected by the large number of abortions that Russian women have. According to the UN's World Abortion Policies Chart for 2013, the Russian abortion rate was 37.4 per 1000 women aged between 15-44, the highest rate for countries for which data… 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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