MONDAY, 27 APRIL 2015

What parents ‘produce’: a case study

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We recently discussed the changing ethnic make-up of New Zealand babies. However, while some are having more babies than others, the question remains why total fertility rates remain so low. 

Last week New Zealand journalist and radio personality, Duncan Garner, was moved to write about the value put on raising children in modern New Zealand society.  Using his own family as a case study, he investigated the importance of the work his wife does at home.  He writes:

My wife's three-month break from paid work ends on Monday – and she can't wait to get back into the workforce.  It's not that she doesn't love being at home with our 4-year-old son, she dotes on the little man, but she's ready to be "normal" again and, as she puts it, to "contribute" to the household.

I have to admit I'm in two minds about this, because her… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

THURSDAY, 23 APRIL 2015

The EU has fewer and fewer children

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Like most children, I grew up listening to my mother’s choice of music.  One of my earliest favourites was “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston.  For some reason the lyrics struck a chord with me:

 “I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside…
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be”

The lyrics still ring true for me.  If the children really are our future then the Eurozone has a seriously questionable one.  There is not nearly as much children’s laughter around.

Figures released by the European Union’s statistics agency late last week show that the number of children aged less than 15 in the 28-member bloc decreased by 10 million over the last twenty years, and it is a trend that is set to continue.

click here to read whole article and make comments

 

TUESDAY, 21 APRIL 2015

Fewer annoying teenagers in the USA

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Over the last couple of years we've spoken a few times about the predictions of the United States of America's changing demographic makeup. In 2012 Shannon talked about the rise of Latin Americans as an increasing force on the political landscape. A year later, she noted that for the first time the number of white deaths outstripped which births in the US. This year I looked at the USA's population in 2060, while Shannon discussed an interesting Economist podcast on the general issue only last month. What we haven't discussed before is the shaky future of MTV (I'm actually not sure if MTV is still popular – I'm no longer au fait with what is cool with young people, if I ever was...) The reason that MTV's future is looking shaky is that the share of teenagers in the USA's population is higher now than it will be for the next… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

SUNDAY, 19 APRIL 2015

New Zealand’s changing cultural make-up

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The ethnic make-up of New Zealand is changing.  The Health Ministry published its annual report on maternity last week and, for the first time, the Asian birth rate in New Zealand climbed ahead of the European rate. Maori and Pacific birth rates still remained by far the highest, propping up the overall New Zealand fertility rate.

The New Zealand Herald infographic below shows the total number of births per 1000 women over time.  It seems to indicate that Asian women are aware that 30 is the age that fertility begins to decline, as births peak sharply just before this age.  The median age for Māori and Pacific women giving birth was five years younger than for Asian and European women.

The increase in the Asian birth rate is in part caused by Asian students first coming to New Zealand on temporary student visas then becoming qualified and choosing to… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

THURSDAY, 16 APRIL 2015

Intergenerational living at retirement homes

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Today’s story is a wonderful story from the Netherlands about a way to help cash-strapped students while also alleviating the loneliness of the disconnected elderly. As PBS reports, the Humanitas retirement home has adopted a win-win scenario:

“A nursing home in the Netherlands allows university students to live rent-free alongside the elderly residents, as part of a project aimed at warding off the negative effects of aging.”

The students get to live in small, rent-free apartments in return for spending at least 30 hours a month acting as “good neighbours” to the elderly living at the retirement home.  The students do a number of activities with their elderly neighbours including watching sports, celebrating birthdays and offering company when senior fall ill. This is all extremely important since:

“…social isolation and loneliness in older men and women are associated with increased mortality, according to a 2012 report by the National Academy… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

WEDNESDAY, 15 APRIL 2015

A feel good story about a very happy mother

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After having son number six, North Carolina mum Cher Lair and her husband Stephen decided they were destined to be a 'boy' household.  They told their local ABC News:

"Initially, on baby three and four, I’m thinking, there’ll be a girl at some point. They can’t all be boys. But after four and five and six, you’re kinda thinking, yeah they can," she said.
 
When she learned she was having a seventh child, the family entrusted a friend with knowing the gender first, and she baked a cake to either reveal pink or blue inside.  You will smile as you watch her reaction as she finds out what's inside the cake!

Lair comments that "We are happy we got exactly what we were supposed to get with all these six and with a girl,".  How lovely!
click here to read whole article and make comments

 

MONDAY, 13 APRIL 2015

Sex educators urge births

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The sex educators preaching to our teenagers are beginning to realise that, if they want young people to view having babies in a positive light, they might have to change their focus from simply drumming home how not to get pregnant. 

Having reached the grand old age of 31 this week, I am increasingly encountering friends who are not finding it quite as easy to get pregnant as they had always thought it would be.  For many, there is a mind shift from babies as something to be avoided at all costs (a mind-set many have drummed into them through their teens), to a desperate desire to get pregnant and the realisation that children are a gift and that fertility is not forever. 

Recently, Sex and Society, the non-profit group that provides much of Denmark’s sex education, has adjusted its curriculum.  It has gone from a sole emphasis on how to prevent getting… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

FRIDAY, 10 APRIL 2015

The oldest baton changes hands

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She was only number one for a few days, but Gertrude Weaver enjoyed her moment in the glare of global attention. What had Gertrude achieved to deserve this attention? She had stayed alive. That's right, for six days the Arkansas woman was the world's oldest-known living person according to Stuff and she loved every minute of it.

“Weaver, who said the key to longevity was to treat people kindly, basked in her brief moment in the global spotlight. She enjoyed being read news articles about being the oldest person on the planet, said Kathy Langley, the administrator of the Silver Oaks Health & Rehabilitation Center in Camden, Arkansas.”

Gertrude Weaver was born on July 4 (an auspicious day for an American!) way back in 1898. According to the Gerontology Research Group, which validates the ages of the world's longest-living people, there are only three people alive now with birth records… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

THURSDAY, 9 APRIL 2015

Japanese fathers need to help more around the house

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We've spoken many times on this blog of Japan's worsening demographic situation. Its current fertility rate is 1.43 children per woman - well below the "replacement" rate of around 2.1. The population has declined each year for the last eight years and is expected to continue to do so into the foreseeable future. This has the Japanese Government worried.  

As the Japan Times reports, the Government has just adopted a "policy outline for countermeasures for a society with a chronically low birthrate" which includes some rather interesting proposals. The most notable is that it seeks to change the cultural attitudes that Japanese men bring to family life and housework. Apparently, the amount of time that Japanese men spend on child-rearing and other domestic chores is among the lowest amounts in the world. If you have a child younger than 6 years old at home and you are Japanese man you will spend… click here to read whole article and make comments


 

TUESDAY, 7 APRIL 2015

Russian demography deteriorates

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Many are anxious that Putin be stopped both because of his questionable conduct towards his own people and his irreverence for international law.  However, demography has a hold on Russia’s future power which Putin in well aware of.  We’ve discussed conflicting views among commentators about Russia’s demographic outlook on this blog before.  Whether you’re a pessimist or an optimist, the current economic outlook is not helping Russia’s fertility rates.  A combination of inflation, plummeting oil prices and low growth meant that people’s average real disposable income shrank last year, and most people expect that 2015 will be worse. 

George Weigal comments in the National Review that:

Russia is, in many respects, dying. Alcoholism is rampant. Life expectancy is sinking: Today, a 15-year-old Haitian boy has a longer life expectancy than his 15-year-old Russian counterpart. The economy is stagnant, and the ruble is cratering. Russia imports potatoes from Romania. Churches… 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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