Let’s be neighbourly

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Last week I watched a tragic news article about a block of Christchurch flats where, on two separate occasions within the last couple of years, a resident has died in their apartment and not been discovered for over a month.  What does this say about interaction between neighbours and family support structures? 

With steeply rising numbers of elderly people, support structures around the world will need strengthening in the coming years, especially if a greater number than ever before are childless or only have one or two children to rely on for family support.

Good neighbours do not only affect our happiness.  Leading new research published mid last year has also discovered that they may make us healthier. The small things we do for each other really do make a difference.

The University of Michigan team who undertook the study used data from 5276 people aged over 50 with no history of… click here to read whole article and make comments



Australia’s population future

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Last week we saw on this blog a glimpse into the population future of the United States. By 2060 the USA is going to be older, more diverse and much larger than it is today. Something similar is being predicted for Australia we learned last week as the Aussie government released its fourth intergenerational report. This is a report that is produced by the Federal Government which must be released every five years. It looks at the long range impacts of population and government policy on the federal budget.

This year's report was billed by Australian Treasurer, Joe Hockey as quite exciting: indeed he predicted that it would make people “fall off their chairs” which is quite dramatic. Now, I did fall off my chair when I heard about the findings in the report, but I can be forgiven since I write a blog on… click here to read whole article and make comments



Demographic change spells trouble across Middle East

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Syrian Kurdish refugees fleeing into Turkey / European Commission / flickr   

As Islamic State (IS) and Shi’a militias backed by Iraq and Iran continue their missions to create “pure” sectarian enclaves, changing demographics throughout the region could be a harbinger of more conflict to come. Large flows of refugees and disparate birth rates not only have the propensity to prolong violence in Iraq and Syria, but could drastically reconfigure the make-up of strong states like Turkey and Israel. Lebanon’s perennially fragile sectarian balance is also at risk.

As the civil war in Syria intensified, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s claim to be fighting al-Qaeda became a self-fulfilling prophecy with the rise of the al-Nusra Front and IS. Their atrocities resulted in many Syrian minorities coalescing around the ostensibly secular Assad regime.

In Iraq, minority Christians and click here to read whole article and make comments



Things to make you go “ohhhhh”

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At around 7pm we usually get the two boys into bed (not necessarily asleep of course...). At this time there is a light magazine style show called Seven Sharp (because it's on at 7pm sharp..get it? Get it?) that has stories that range between the interesting, the “ohhhh, that's cute”, the banal and the bizarre. We don't watch it all the time, but some nights we have it on in the background. The other night was one such night and Shannon noticed that there was an interesting story on it about an adventurous family outside of Feilding (a town with population of about 15,000 in the Manawatu region of the North Island of New Zealand). The family have some room on their property and have used it in a unique way to have fun. In fact, they've been having so much fun that the guys from Nitro Circus (stunt riders and daredevils) turned up to check it out. The story… click here to read whole article and make comments



Google’s glaring omission

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March 8th was International Women’s Day.  In the words of the organisers, the day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women, advance and appreciate them.  On Google’s special banner (above) woman are celebrated for being astronauts, firewomen, judges, scientists, doctors, basketball players and musicians – all great achievements for some women.  With our uniquely feminine gifts, we can contribute much to these spheres.  Yet, it is a sign of the times that nowhere on Google’s banner is motherhood and family life celebrated.  Is this work, so fundamental to womanhood and the lives of so many women, to remain invisible and unappreciated?  No wonder our fertility rates are getting so low.  

I was a full-time part of the workforce not so long ago, but these days wiping tiny fingers and enjoying chubby smiles and appreciative coos takes up a lot of my day.  I must admit that I felt quite… click here to read whole article and make comments



US population in 2060

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A new report has been released this week by the US Census Bureau providing some more in-depth analysis of the US' population and its predicted changes through to 2060. Huffington News has helpfully compiled some of the more interesting pieces of analysis and predictions. The report, entitled “Projections of the Size and Composition of the US Population 2014-2060”, was the first to incorporate separate projections of fertility for native- and foreign-born women, which allows the Bureau to better account for the effects of international migration on the US population. Some of the highlights include:

  • The overall population will increase, albeit at a smaller rate. The US population is expected to grow more slowly in the coming decades when compared to the previous century. By 2051 the population is expected to hit 400 million (from 319 million today).
  • The US is becoming less white. By 2020, more than half of the… click here to read whole article and make comments



The decline of Europe’s Jewish community

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In a piece I wrote a couple of months ago in the wake of the Parisian Charlie Hebdo attacks I mentioned that Jews were emigrating from France to Israel in greater numbers after increasing anti-Semitic attacks. What is interesting to see is the decline in Jewish numbers throughout Europe since the start of the Second World War and the Holocaust. I had never really thought how many Jews lived in Europe and also how many European Jews there used to be.

As Pew Research notes, it is hard to determine Jewish numbers in a given country accurately:

“Measuring Jewish populations, especially in places like Europe and the United States where Jews are a small minority, is fraught with difficulty. This is due to the complexity both of measuring small populations and of Jewish identity, which can be defined by ethnicity or religion. As a result, estimates vary, but Pew Research’s recent figures… click here to read whole article and make comments



Countries are fighting for working age population

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There are outcries about immigration in a number of countries around the world.  Yet the economic reality remains – most of those countries need more working age people.  Will we soon see more competition amongst countries to entice the most attractive immigrant’s from around the world?

Hong Kong is certainly trying to do so, and has just enacted new reforms to try to attract more reverse migration.  The reforms target the children of Hong Kongers who have moved overseas, making it easier for them to come back and gain residency in Hong Kong.  Applicants for the visas must be aged 18 to 40, have a university degree, understand English or Chinese and prove they can afford to live in the city.  The measures are aimed at overcoming the ageing demographic and shortage of skilled labour. The government hopes they will attract more young people to return to their parents' home to contribute to… click here to read whole article and make comments



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


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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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