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



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



Jewish births “Trending Upwards” in Israel

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With the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza showing no signs of abating, despite the best efforts of the UN Secretary-General, I thought that this piece from the Jerusalem Post dealing with Israeli demography was interesting and challenged many assumptions that I had.  The author is Barbara Sofer, a Jerusalem writer who serves as the Israel director of public relations for Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. She makes some interesting personal observations in the course of explaining her interview with one Yoram Ettinger, a former Israeli ambassador.  Sofer explains that the conversation took a turn that she was not expecitng:

“I expect us to discuss Diaspora-Israel relations, but instead we talk mostly about babies – who is having them and why.

When it comes to Middle East demography, Ettinger maintains that most of us have our facts backwards. We’ve become so accustomed to thinking… click here to read whole article and make comments


MONDAY, 21 JULY 2014

New Zealand among most ethnically diverse countries

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New Zealand has a uniquely ethnically diverse society, according to a recently released New Zealand demographical report.  I was surprised to learn that as many as one in four people living in New Zealand in 2013 was born in another country. In fact, Auckland (New Zealand’s largest city) is one the most immigrant-dependent cities in the world, with 39 percent of Aucklanders born overseas.

The report, entitled Our Futures: Te Pae Tawhiti, was released by an expert panel of the Royal Society of New Zealand and analyses data from the 2013 Census along with other sources. 

In particular, it reports a rapid growth in the numbers of New Zealanders who are Asian.  Making up just under 12 percent of the population, these communities are now significantly larger than Pasifika communities (7.4 percent), despite the largest Pacific population in the world residing in Auckland. New Zealand is also increasingly turning its economic focus… click here to read whole article and make comments



Niue: A dying Island

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Niue is a tiny island in the South Pacific, lying to the south of Samoa, to the East of Tonga and about 2,400 km north of New Zealand. About 1400 people live on “The Rock”, an island about 2/3rds the size of the Isle of Wight, or three times larger than the Island of Manhattan. It is a small, thinly populated island, one of many throughout the Pacific. However, this is not the end of the story. While 1400 live on Niue, about 15 times that number live in New Zealand. According to Wikipedia, 90-95% of all Niuean people live in Aotearoa. Nieu is an extreme example of the incredible mobility of people in the late 20th century. It may also be an example of a people that has not died out, but has simply moved on (I will not say to greener pastures because I could conceivably be accused of bias…)

The click here to read whole article and make comments



Japan faces pilot shortage

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The latest demographic news from Japan is good news for pilots, but bad news for travellers. Thousands of flights in Japan could be cancelled this summer because the country’s rapidly aging population has led to a nationwide shortage of pilots. 

Is this the first of many such shortages to come in the nation’s future due to its rapidly aging population?   Worryingly, we have often described Japan’s demographic outlook as the ‘canary in the coal mine’ as a lot of the Western world is heading the same way – could this be a situation much of the world soon faces?

The New Zealand Herald reports that:

Peach Aviation, a Japan-based budget airline, has said that more than 2000 flights between May and October may be affected by pilot shortages. It has already cancelled 448 flights since last month.

Vanilla Air, another low-cost carrier, recently announced the cancellation of… click here to read whole article and make comments


SUNDAY, 13 JULY 2014

Human Trafficking to China

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We’ve mentioned before on this blog the horrific human trafficking that is going on into China at least in part due to that country’s one child policy. That blogpost discussed the women being abducted from North Korea, but a recent piece by the AFP shows that it is not limited to that country. Instead, women in all of the countries that neighbour China are in danger of being whisked away to the Middle Kingdom and sold into sexual slavery.  As the AFP notes, it is all about the gender imbalance haunting China due to its horrific one-child policy:

“Vulnerable women in countries close to China -- not only Vietnam but also North Korea, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar -- are being forced into marriages in the land of the one-child policy, experts say.

China suffers from one of the worst gender imbalances in the world as… click here to read whole article and make comments



Feminists vs population controllers

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When I think of a militant ‘feminist’ I tend to think of someone who sees too many children as getting in the way of a woman’s success in the workplace and generally in life.  While this might be true, even militant feminists do not think that women should be forced or encouraged not to have children if they should happen to want them. Interestingly, because international feminist groups naturally support the autonomy of women, they now find themselves in opposition to the population control advocates they have previously partnered with in support of widespread abortion and birth control rights.

The clash became apparent during the inaugural meeting of a new United Nations environmental body that met for the first time last month to discuss universal development goals and air pollution, among other agenda items.  For many, the solution to environmental woes is still the continued reduction of… click here to read whole article and make comments



Big News! Our #2 is on the way!

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Hello everyone! Winter has well and truly arrived here in New Zealand. It is blowing hard from the East this morning. So hard in fact that I needed to get up onto the carport roof in my pyjamas to screw down a sheet of roofing that was threatening to fly off! (Luckily it was polycarbonate and not sheet metal!) To be truthful, such an event was not entirely unexpected as I had personally put the carport roof up only a few months ago. I was surprised that it took this long to threaten to come off actually…

Anyway, we have a piece of good news to share with you all today: Shannon is pregnant. Yes, number two is with us and is due to be born in mid-November. (Just think of it as our contribution to the overpopulation of the planet, the depletion of natural resources. We’re just selfish that way I guess…)We are off to have a scan tomorrow… click here to read whole article and make comments


MONDAY, 30 JUNE 2014

World Cup 2014 Demography

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Who’s been enjoying the Football World Cup in Brazil? Perhaps you haven’t been enjoying it that much if you are an English supporter, or an Italian supporter or a Spanish supporter… but I’m pretty sure that the rest of us have all been enjoying it very much. The public broadcaster down here in NZ has even got the rights to air about a third of the games free-to-air which has been great to watch over breakfast (although I have to admit that I haven’t got up at 3am to watch the earlier fixtures yet!)  Anyway, I thought it was a good time to shoehorn the World Cup into a demography article.

We often hear about how popular football is, and looking at the nations that make up the last 16 (or did, sorry Uruguay, Mexico, Chile and Greece) we get an idea at why it is the most popular sport on Earth.  According… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Welcome to Demography Is Destiny, MercatorNet’s blog about human dignity and population. We launched this after seeing two themes crop up constantly in the media: that humans are a cancer which is destroying our planet and that world population is spiralling up to unsustainable levels. 

Although many people dress up these concerns in global warming T-shirts, the underlying issue is the Population Bomb. Back in the 1960s the Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich proclaimed that Malthus was right: the world faced mass starvation because there was too little food and too many people. Well, Ehrlich was proved wrong over and over again, and over and over again the fear comes back, like a vampire sucking optimism and hope out of modern society. I hope that this blog helps to put a stake through the heart of this dangerous and indefensible idea.

Dangerous, because the unsupported notion that the world cannot support its population is being used to promote human rights abuses, including coercive population programs. And indefensible, because world population, is actually on track to a steep decline. You could call it catastrophic, except that we are trying to avoid fostering apocalyptic fears on MercatorNet. We prefer to leave that to climate-change scaremongers. But it will certainly bring about enormous problems. At the moment, world population is about 6.8 billion. By the year 2050, it will rise to 9 billion, according to a United Nations scenario for mid-range fertility rates. But this global statistic conceals the fact that populations in many developed countries will actually decline. The number of elderly will increase enormously. Russia’s population will decline by one-fifth by 2050, for instance.

Huge problems are looming because of this “demographic winter” – social, financial, human rights, geo-political, cultural, and religious. We hope to track these changes, puncture illusions, and foster hope with Demography Is Destiny. And there is plenty of room for hope. After all, in the oft-quoted words of economist Julian Simon, people are the “ultimate resource”. We may not be over-populated, but we do have plenty of intelligent, inventive, adaptive people.

Where did we get the name? The catchphrase “Demography is Destiny” has almost become a cliché. It seems that it was coined by the French philosopher and sociologist August Comte in the 19th Century. But it still rings true.

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