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September
20th
  12:17:54 PM

We’ll take your children while you make some more

Denmark has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world.  In the last few years its Total Fertility Rate has been tracking downwards from 1.892 children per woman in 2008 to 1.7332 in 2012.  It now is the 185th most fertile nation in the world (out of 221 countries) and this year is due to see the lowest birth rate in the country since 1988.  In short, the Danes for some reason have a problem making babies. The problem has got so bad that we reported earlier this year on calls for a parliamentary working group to look at the problem. Obviously they need some help, poor people.

Well, luckily for the Danes, there is help at hand.  According to the Telegraph, there are a group of seven Danish kindergartens in North Fyn, near Odense, putting click here to read whole article and make comments


 
September
17th
  7:16:12 PM

The childfree life - hurray?

In this reflective clip Father Barron, a Catholic priest who is also a popular social commentator, critiques a recent controversial Time magazine article entitled "The childfree life".  The article has stirred up debate about the increasingly common choice not to have children and the falling fertility rates which have resulted.  

Is it a selfish choice or a perfectly legitimate one given the busy careers many modern women have and the 'me' time one maintains as a result.  Most importantly, is it a path which leads to joy and fulfillment.

click here to read whole article and make comments

 
September
17th
  7:00:59 AM

Overpopulation fears betray an ignorance of human history

Wow, the New York Times really has come over to the dark side. Last week I reported on an article from the grey lady about the German efforts to arrest its population decline that shows that the problem for so many countries isn’t a population explosion, but a population implosion (albeit in slow motion).  Now, an op-ed from that same newspaper from Erle C Ellis (Associate Professor of Geography and Environmental Systems, University of Maryland) has made the claim that overpopulation in relation to the environment is a myth! That must have caused some raised eyebrows in NYTimes heartland (if they weren’t still raised from seeing Vladimir Putin in their paper a few days ago!)

Ellis starts with the oft-repeated claim that:

“we are undermining the very life support systems that sustain us. Like bacteria in a… click here to read whole article and make comments


 
September
14th
  7:44:44 AM

Changing consumer markets

There is increasing evidence that the trend towards low fertility rates (with even many developing countries now following in the footsteps of the West) and fewer children in our world will have an effect on consumer markets.  In a world where money talks, will it be worth providing as many services to mothers and children?

It makes sense that businesses may start to concentrate more and more on the aging baby boomers’ needs that make up the largest chunk of the market.  I stopped to read this telling article in the New Zealand Listener while standing in a checkout line, and it reiterated thoughts that have crossed my mind before – namely that my fortune could lie in setting… click here to read whole article and make comments


 
September
12th
  8:44:17 AM

Are cities becoming family-free?

The City Journal (“a quarterly magazine of urban affairs, published by the Manhattan Institute”) has a fascinating article about the decline of families and family life in American cities (as opposed to the suburbs).  I’m sure that its observations can, mutatis mutandis, can be applied to many cities around the world, particularly in the child-light West. According to the authors, Joel Kotkin and Ali Modarres, American cities have developed in the last half century from places which traditionally supported and nurtured the family to places where only the childless and the hopeless dwell and families flee from.

“Ever since cities first emerged thousands of years ago, they have been places where families could congregate and flourish. The family hearth formed the core of the ancient Greek and Roman city… In the American city until the 1950s, urbanist Sam Bass Warner… click here to read whole article and make comments


 
September
11th
  9:24:04 AM

USA is slowly having more children

According to USA Today, there are some signs of increasing confidence in America. That is because the US Fertility Forecast report released by Demographic Intelligence has shown an upward tick. It has moved from a 25 year low of 1.89 children per woman to an almost 25 year low of 1.90 children per women! Obviously, the confidence is only increasing slowly...

 In the wake of the “Great Recession” (I didn’t know that we were calling it that already...) the fertility rate in the US dropped as people lost confidence in the economic future of the country and the world:

“The fertility rate ‘says something about people's optimism for the future — their optimism about their economic circumstances,’ says demographer Mark Mather of the not-for-profit Population Reference Bureau in Washington, D.C.

"Historically, we've seen fertility trends move up and down with… click here to read whole article and make comments


 
September
06th
  7:59:10 AM

How can Germany arrest its population decline?

The New York Times has started to publish stories about the population crisis in Europe.  Such stories are a break from population explosion stories and presumably will only get more common for Europe and parts of East Asia in the years to come.

One such story that I came across recently was about Germany, in many respects the canary in the mine when it comes to both Europe’s decline and the political responses to that decline.  The situation is quite dire for the leading European economy:

“In its most recent census, Germany discovered it had lost 1.5 million inhabitants. By 2060, experts say, the country could shrink by an additional 19 percent, to about 66 million.”

This population decline is not a new phenomenon; in fact it has been long in coming:

click here to read whole article and make comments


 
September
05th
  8:08:49 AM

32 years old and socially dead?

In the movie “Logan’s Run” the age at which the inhabitants of the dystopian future society had to undergo the ritual of Carrousel (and death) was 30.  That was the age at which everyone in the future could expect their life to end. It turns out that the 1976 movie wasn’t far wrong. Apparently, although less dramatically, the age at which you turn into your parents (ie, socially die) is 32.

According to a survey by the website Netmums (link to homepage here), most people think that they turn into their parents at about 32. Generally, the trigger for people is having children of their own.  Some of the “giveaway” behaviours are interesting:

“A survey by website Netmums listed 50 ‘giveaway behaviours’ that show you are turning into your own parent, from preferring estate cars… click here to read whole article and make comments


 
August
20th
  8:42:39 PM

A world too risky for kids?

 

I am reading at the moment a book about Winston Churchill.  The great war-time leader was overjoyed at the birth of his grandson in the midst of World War II and frequent bombings of London – one of the few moments he showed true joy during those hard years.  However he is said to have remarked that he didn’t know what kind of world his little namesake ‘Winston’ was being born into. 

Which leads me to ponder under what circumstances the world might justifiably be thought a bad place for new children – which, I might add, surely means a bad place for human beings full stop.  Is imminent war a good reason, or simply the real, yet unlikely, possibility that our potential children might get run over by… click here to read whole article and make comments


 
August
19th
  9:19:02 AM

The world’s oldest man?

There has been a new record set! The world’s oldest person (as in ever documented, not just the oldest living) is Carmelo Flores Laura and he is apparently 123 years old! Flores lives in Bolivia and he seems to be in tolerably good health for his age:

“The native Aymara lives in a straw-roofed dirt-floor hut in an isolated hamlet near Lake Titicaca at 13,100 feet, is illiterate, speaks no Spanish and has no teeth.

He walks without a cane and does not wear glasses. ‘I see a bit dimly. I had good vision before. But I saw you coming,’ he told an Associated Press journalists who visited after a local TV report touted him as the world's oldest person.”

Maybe part of his secret to a long life is… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

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