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



Why aren’t Chinese couples keen to have more children?

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In late 2013 we brought you the news that the Chinese Government was bringing in a new relaxation of its abominable one-child policy, allowing parents to have a second child if either one of them are single children themselves. This would allow tens of millions of couples to legally have another child if they so wanted. The aim was to reverse China's shrinking labour pool and to do something about the top-heavy Chinese demographic pyramid – too many older people supported by too few workers. Unfortunately, almost immediately I commented on demographers who thought that the relaxation of the rules will have little effect, a theme that was expanded upon by Shannon about six months ago. Dermont Grenham also wrote an excellent piece linking Chinese and Japanese social attitudes to family sizes which suggested that Chinese families weren't limiting their families to one child just… click here to read whole article and make comments



Catholic family size confusion

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On this blog we often talk about family size and the low - below replacement - fertility rate many countries are experiencing.  Pope Francis has recently made comments about family size which have made headlines around the world. Many things he says seem to do so, which is no surprise given his status as the leader of the Catholic Church and the respect that the world, including the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, give to that position. However, the media spin on his comments and the sentences that are 'cherry picked' out do often cause his meaning to be distorted, as does a lack of background in Catholic theological teachings on the part of readers.

As a 30 year old Catholic in the midst of having a family, I can say that I have never considered that Church teaching compels me to have a large family.  Yes, marriage must be open to life and… click here to read whole article and make comments



The best way to respond to the holocaust?

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Hello again everyone! Shannon and I took a couple of weeks break from blogging to concentrate on two boys, our respective jobs and enjoying a weekend at the beach at Pauanui in the Coromandel Peninsular (about 90mins drive from Auckland). It has been incredibly fine weather here in New Zealand since just before Christmas day and everyone has been enjoying the sun and heat. Well, everyone except the poor farmers, who will probably go straight from drought to flooding, and our children who have decided that sleeping in the heat and the light are not for them. So yes, it has been a tiring few weeks in our household. Such is life with young ones however.

Anyway, we are back on deck now and back into the swing of writing this blog, we hope you haven't missed your regular demography fix!

For today, I thought I'd share… click here to read whole article and make comments



Japanese Village of the Dolls

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From the weird, creepy and yet true file (a very bulky file) comes today’s blogpost story. Japan, as we have talked about many times before (you can search these blogposts for yourself, they are all there in the archives) has a demographic problem. In short, its people are not having enough babies to sustain the current population. Further, the country is not prepared to allow large-scale migration and so the population succour that this approach brings other nations with low brithrates – mainly in Western Europe – is missed in Japan.  As people are also living longer, the country is faced with a shrinking population and an ageing population.  As the Guardian notes the Japanese population decline is getting worse:

“The country’s skewed demographics were highlighted again recently in data showing that the number of newborn babies sank to a record low last year.

click here to read whole article and make comments



Retirement a distant dream for some

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In many cultures children have traditionally been expected to look after their elderly parents. I think it is lovely tradition that it would be a shame to lose. However, more and more elderly people are finding themselves working long past traditional retirement ages, largely because there are fewer and fewer children to support them.

Now the Singaporean government has actually actively legislated to encourage people to work longer.  It has just made it mandatory for companies to offer three more years of work to those turning 62, the official retirement age, and plans to extend that to five years by 2017.  It is the latest attempt to try to address the country's labour shortfall.  

Last year a committee for the employability of older workers also created an advertising campaign starring a 65-year-old lifeguard (see the image above), a 76-year-old assistant inventory manager and a 60-year-old salmon filleter.  The campaign… 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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