Are we ready for the “grey tsunami”?

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As we’ve often mentioned on this blog, much of the world is facing an ageing population (a "grey/gray tsunami" as some commentators have named it).  Many countries face the near future involving a greater percentage of their population in the age bracket 65+ years old. This greater elderly cohort has all sorts of implications for our societies and economies. This tsunami is rushing nearing and more and more are starting to ask: what will happen when it hits?

The Lancet published last month a journal article about the “crisis” in “global elderly care”. This article draws attention to the potential problem, but is light on details about how to deal with the fallout of an ageing population.  But at least recognition of the problem is the necessary first step towards dealing with it and the Lancet is certainly aware of the coming tsunami.  As it… click here to read whole article and make comments



Iran leads Muslim countries in fertility decline

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Happy Easter!  I hope you are celebrating this joyful day with friends and family.  This hopeful Easter article was in our local NZ Herald.  However, today I bring you a story from a predominantly Muslim country, Iran.  You might be surprised to know that in recent years the country has experienced one of the most steeply falling fertility rates in the world.  The average number of births per woman back in the early 1980s in Iran was 6.08.  That dropped to just 1.8 births per woman in 2007.  So ‘successful’ was the Family Planning Program introduced in 1966, that the government is now worried that population growth could reach zero within twenty years’ time and that one working age person will soon be required to support seven retired persons.  Needless to say, they are attempting to do a quick about turn!

Iran leads Muslim countries in fertility decline.  In 2030 Iran will have the lowest… click here to read whole article and make comments



Russia: Growing and More Assertive

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A little while ago I posted a blog entry about the demographic problems for Ukraine and its similarities with Russia in that respect. That was before the crisis of the Crimean standoff. Now, of course, the Russian absorption of the Crimean peninsula is a fait accompli and we are watching round two in Eastern Ukraine.

Some, myself included, have wondered how much of Russia’s aggression has been that of a declining power trying to recapture some past glory and to hide its current failings. Well, that may be the case, but at least for the moment one aspect of Russia’s outlook is somewhat brighter: its demographic outlook.   

According to Mark Adomanis, writing in Forbes, Russia’s demography is continuing to improve from its disastrous outlook of a few years ago. According to Adomanis, Putin’s reign in Russia has coincided with an improvement in both public health and population… click here to read whole article and make comments



Japan’s Shrinking Role in the World

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The Economist has provided another very interesting piece about a story that I think gets less coverage than it should be receiving: the slow, steady, inevitable (?) implosion of Japanese society. I don’t think that saying that is being melodramatic, what else does one call a society which has a population that has been shrinking for the past decade (in a time of historically-unheard peace and prosperity!) and shows no sign of stopping that decline? Does this population decline not show a lack of confidence in the society’s future prospects and a lack of interest or desire in propagating that society? Shouldn’t this news story be more closely followed elsewhere since: a) Japan is the third-largest economy in the world; b) Japan is in a very worrying diplomatic conflict with the world’s second-largest economy; and c) Japan is the canary in the mine for many other western nations. How will these other nations… click here to read whole article and make comments



Why you shouldn’t take alarmist population predictions seriously

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Source: UN Data

Caring about the environment, caring about people and encouraging new life can and should go hand in hand.  Sadly, that is not always the way passionate environmentalists view things.  However, Marion Swain of the Breakthrough Institute argues in her recent article that we need not be alarmist about population growth even if we are also concerned for the environment.  She is a Conservation and Development Policy Analyst at a think tank whose mission is to ‘accelerate the transition to a future where all the world's inhabitants can enjoy secure, free, and prosperous lives on an ecologically vibrant planet’.  In her article she presents four surprising facts about population which mean that human beings are not fated to ecological disaster.


1. The global population is likely to peak and decline in the 21st century

The world population is still growing, but the rate at which it… click here to read whole article and make comments



Is Single Occupancy Vandalising the Environment?

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When you think of someone living alone what springs to mind?  An elderly spinster perhaps, or a young professional?  The truth is that the typical solitary dweller is middle-aged.  In America, for instance, the majority are between the ages of 35 and 64; some 16 million people.  

These singletons represent one of the greatest sociological shifts of our age. Last week a massive survey by Euromonitor International found that the number of us living alone, globally, is rising with unprecedented gusto. Over the last 15 years the number has climbed an astonishing 80 per cent.

In the United States, 27 per cent of households have just one person living in them. In the UK, so often behind the American lifestyle curve, the number is actually higher; 34 per cent. And we cannot hold a candle to Sweden, where an astonishing 47… click here to read whole article and make comments



Worldwide migration: a constant factor

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In many countries, migration is a hot topic. For example, it perennially comes up in Australia as governments and approaches change. The debate about illegal immigrants in the USA is still to be settled (or indeed confronted?) While in the UK, there were plans to make an anti-tourist campaign in Romania and Bulgaria to keep migrants from those countries away.  And of course, in many countries, migration is the only thing keeping populations growing as natural growth is non-existent (see for example Western Europe). Now, there is information coming out from the Vienna Institute of Demography about the scale of migration worldwide.  It takes account of newly harmonised data provided by the UN (including refugees) that overcomes the previous lack of standardised data provided by individual countries. The methodology is explained by Nikola Sander who compiled the figures:

“We've produce the first estimates of global migration flows showing movement… click here to read whole article and make comments



Something is going on in the state of Denmark

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A Danish travel company has announced a new competition based around improving Denmark's falling fertility rates.  The need for more children is obviously playing on the corporate conscience.  Although the aim is not purely altruistic - the company also says that fewer Danes supporting the older population means fewer holidays.  

The company announced this week that: no one has found out how to help Denmark's falling birth rate. Until now. Spies Travels announces a competition where you have to make a baby to win http://do-it-for-denmark.dk

Apparently, part of the idea is that Danes are much more likely to conceive while on holiday.  The company also offers an "ovulation discount" to women who prove that they are travelling while fertile, with the chance to win more prizes to help with the baby should they actually fall pregnant.

In 2012 Denmark's birth rate was down to… click here to read whole article and make comments



The dependent generation

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Shockingly, almost half of Europe’s young adults still live with their parents, despite the fact that they are likely more highly educated than them.  This record level of dependency has both social and demographic implications. 

A comprehensive on-going social survey of 28 European countries reported this week that the percentage of people aged 18-30 who were still living with their parents had risen to 48% by 2011, reflecting the deprivation and unemployment that surged during the economic crisis.  Numbers have increased, not only among those still studying, but also in the 25 – 30 age bracket – an age most young people would hope to be earning and settled into a career. 

Data from EU agency Eurofound obtained by The Guardian shows that it is not only debt-laden countries seeing the shift either, with large rises of young people continuing to live at home in countries such as Sweden, Denmark, France,… click here to read whole article and make comments



After Crimea: is ethnicity the new World Order?

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As we watch the unfolding of the Ukraine-Russia standoff, claims of ethnicity are being used as justifications for Russian action. According to Philip Browning, writing in the South China Morning Post, this opens up “a large can of worms with long-term global consequences”.  He argues that the Russian takeover of the Crimea has overturned two pillars of the post-World War Two world order: the permanence of state boundaries protected by the United Nations and “the inadmissibility of ethnicity as the primary identifier of states”. 

It is this second pillar that is of interest to us today.  With Russia claiming that it is acting as the defender of Russians, no matter which country they reside in, many countries in Russia’s “near-abroad” will be feeling slightly nervous.  Eastern and Southern Ukraine holds large Russian populations, as do the three small Baltic states (Estonia was warned by Russia in the last few… 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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