THURSDAY, 21 AUGUST 2014

Will we all be African one day soon?

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Will we all be African again one day soon?  It's not as far-fetched as it sounds.  There has been an unprecedented demographic shift this century towards an increasingly African world. 

A report released this week by the UN children’s agency (UNICEF) found that by the end of this century about 40 per cent of all humans (and nearly half of all children) will be African - one of the fastest and most radical demographic changes in history.  In 1950 Africa accounted for only 9 per cent of the world’s population.  The population explosion will be biggest in West Africa. By 2050, Nigeria alone will account for an astounding one-tenth of all births in the world. It is currently the largest economy in Africa.

Fertility rates are actually declining in Africa as they are in much of the world.  However, they remain higher than anywhere else and, at the same time, life expectancy… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

TUESDAY, 19 AUGUST 2014

Niger: the most fertile nation on earth

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This story from the Economist is about Niger – the largest country in West Africa (by size) – and the country with the highest fertility rate in the world (7.6 children per woman).  Although Niger does not have a large population by world standards (17 million) this number is set to more than triple between 2014 and 2050.  That wouldn’t be such a problem were it not for the fact that the country cannot feed itself even now and even when there are no droughts. Unfortunately, there are consistently droughts and the harvest regularly fails:

“Niger is, by the reckoning of the UN’s Human Development Index, the poorest place on earth…An estimated 2.5m people out of a total of 17m have no secure source of food. When harvests fail, which they do almost annually, that number shoots up. In 2012, when the worst of the recent food crises ravaged… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

WEDNESDAY, 13 AUGUST 2014

Chinese state theology

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Why on Earth would an officially atheist country’s ruling class decide to create a new theology? Furthermore, why on Earth would anyone listen to what that ruling class had to say? The answers to those two questions: to buttress their authority and because their people have to listen to what they say on fear of severe penalties, may give you a hint as to which country we’re talking about. Yes China! The Communist Party controlling China has decided that spying on the menstrual cycles of its citizens is no longer enough, now it is going to pronounce on theodicy, the problem of consciousness and the whether it is holy because God wills it, or whether God wills it because it is holy. According to the International Business Times:

“The [Chinese] government will create a “Chinese Christian Theology” to guide the practice of Christianity in the country, the China… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 11 AUGUST 2014

Moody’s warns investors: Aging to reduce economic growth worldwide

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The Moody’s Global Credit Research Team, which regularly prepares reports for investors and finance firms, warned investors this month in a special report that ‘the unprecedented pace of aging’ will slow economic growth over the next 20 years worldwide. 

Aging reduces economic growth because it reduces labour supply, and causes saving rates to decline which reduces business investment.  It makes sense that over 65’s are spending their savings, rather than making further investments.

By next year 68 of the 112 countries assessed by Moody’s report will be classified as “aging”, 34 “aged” and five, the rather amusingly categorised, “super-aged” – a category you achieve when more than 20% of society is aged 65 and above. 

Germany, Italy, and Japan are already “super-aged”, and are soon to be joined by Finland and Greece.  Eleven more countries, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France and Canada will get there by 2025, and there will be a total of… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

SUNDAY, 10 AUGUST 2014

Europe dead in the water?

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Phillipe Legrain was the economic adviser to the President of the European Commission and head of a team providing the President with strategic policy advice from February 2011 to February 2014. Either his advice was not followed by the President or Legrain has had a change of heart about the strategic policy advice that he was giving.  I say this because he has authored a book entitled European Spring: Why Our Economies are in a Mess – and How to Put Them RightIn this piece published by Yale University, Legrain pulls no punches in describing the social, politcal and economic trouble that he thinks Europe is in. Economics first:

“After an unnecessarily long and deep recession, Europe’s recovery is the flimsiest on record: feeble in the eurozone, a return to housing bubble and bust in Britain. The long slump and governments’ subsequent budget cuts have exposed the chasm… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

WEDNESDAY, 6 AUGUST 2014

Why is Gaza so young?

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As both sides seem to be drawing back from continued conflict and as perhaps we are seeing the end of the latest violence in Gaza, it is an apposite time to look at the demographic reality of Gaza. Although the numbers of civilians killed and wounded cannot be precisely known (and I am surprised how many reports have accepted the Gaza Health Ministry statistics at face value) there are undoubtedly many, many civilians who have lost their lives. Among those civilians there are large numbers of children, and this number may be exacerbated by Gaza’s unusual demographic structure.  In short, Gaza is home to a very young population.  According to the New Scientist:

"...the Gaza Strip's population of roughly 1.8 million has an unusually large proportion of children. Figures for 2013 from Index Mundi, the internet source of country data, show that that 43.5 per cent of the population is aged 14… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

SUNDAY, 3 AUGUST 2014

Chinese ‘baby boom’ yet to materialise

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When China relaxed its one child policy late last year onlookers around the world expected a cultural shift.  The Chinese government and investors predicted a baby boom, with government officials making the application process cumbersome lest too many people apply at once. 

However, neither baby boom nor cultural shift has yet materialised and China will fall well short of the 1m-2m extra births that Wang Peian, the deputy director of the National Health Family Planning Commission, had predicted. Yang Wenzhuang, of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said about 271,600 couples had so far applied to have a second child, with permission given to 241,300.

Many point to too much bureaucracy as one cause.  The Economist notes that in the eastern city of Jinan married couples must provide seven different documents, including statements from employers certifying their marital status.  Some also report propaganda campaigns against having a second child by… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

WEDNESDAY, 30 JULY 2014

Dijon: Elderly-Friendly

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With many countries in the world facing a growing number of elderly, cities such as Dijon in Eastern France are trying to improve the lives of their retired citizens.  According to this article from the Guardian Weekly:

“As studies have shown, movement is a key factor in ageing well and isolation should be avoided at all costs. ‘A little activity does a huge amount to slow ageing,’ says Christiane Gindre, a pensioner and member of the Age Observatory in Dijon. This city in eastern France is working to ensure that planners and other public services make full allowance for such factors.”

While cities like Dijon have tried to cope with more retiree by laying on more services: meals, clubs, home-helps and specialist amenities, some advocates of the elderly argue that this is not enough. Dijon city council’s senior policy manager, Pierre-Olivier Lefebvre, states that recent retirees may want the services, but… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

MONDAY, 28 JULY 2014

Young vs Old is not the way politics has to be

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Have current demographical challenges piqued young against old in a battle for resources, pensions or lower tax rates?  Do we see politics in terms of 'what's in it for my generation'?  It is of some concern that the Centre for Intergenerational practice in the United Kingdom comments that:

Changes in society have led to generations frequently becoming segregated from one another, this separation can lead to unrealistic and negative stereotypes, and a decrease in positive exchanges between them. Yet these separated generations do have resources of value to each other and furthermore share areas of concern. 

It does seem that Western culture in particular puts much less emphasis on learning from the respected wisdom of the elderly than other cultures, and supporting each other through all stages of life. We can also find ourselves using descriptions of young people which are perhaps unfair and cynical towards them such as ‘lazy’ or… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

SATURDAY, 26 JULY 2014

Russian emigration soars

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It appears as if Russia’s previously anaemic fertility rate is rising from its very low levels of a decade ago (1.7 births per woman in 2013, under 1.2 in 1999). Furthermore, its mortality rate is stabilising so that the Russian population is actually naturally increasing for the first time in twenty years (all of this according to Wikipedia). We reported on this a few months ago, and I concluded at the time by stating that:

“So while the current demographic outlook of Russia is much better than it was five or six years ago, it seems as if the medium-long term is still less than healthy. Russia will have to rely on immigration to grow or stabilise its population, and that in itself is problematic.” 

The problems I was talking about was assimilation of large numbers of immigrants, but there may be a more immediate demographic problem to… 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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