The demographic dividend occurs when a falling birth rate requires fewer investments to meet the needs of the youngest age groups and resources are released for economic development and family welfare. It improves the ratio of productive workers to child dependents and makes for faster economic growth. In the Republic of Korea, as its birth rate fell in the mid-1960s, school enrolments declined and funds allocated for elementary education were used for education at higher levels.
However the demographic dividend is a limited window of opportunity. The age distribution changes again as the adult population moves into the less-productive age brackets and smaller families are born during the fertility decline. Then the dependency ratio rises again, to care for the elderly.
Some countries will capitalize upon the released resources and use them effectively, but others will not. When the window of opportunity closes, those that do not take advantage of the demographic dividend will face renewed pressures in a position that is weaker than ever.
When the generations of children born during periods of high fertility leave the dependent years, good policies are required to educate and train them. Women with fewer children tend to be better educated, take jobs outside of the home and are more productive. This assumes governments create more jobs and seize upon the "dividends" of the changed age distribution. If they fail to do this, countries may struggle with the social unrest of unemployed citizens.
Working-age adults can save more money when individuals born during periods of high fertility move into their 40s and their children require less support. Personal savings serve as a partial resource for investments that fuel growth. Having fewer children enhances the health of women and participation in the labor force enhances their status and independence. They contribute to their families and society.
Men and women cite economic pressures as their reason for using contraception. Family income can provide better food for infants and education for girls and teenagers of both sexes. In 1950, East Asian countries moved through falling fertility rates and their opportunity rose during the next fifty years. It is peaking and will fade steadily as their populations age. Sub-Saharan Africa is starting to enter its window, with declining fertility rates over the next decades.
If the governments take actions that follow those of East Asia, the dividends may become real. It points to the importance of policies to promote health during the demographic dividend. Poor health is a cause of losses in household income. Half of the world's 175 million pregnancies annually are unwanted and there is ample room for improvement in contraception. Reducing unwanted pregnancies also hastens the changes in age structure that advance development.
Policies to create jobs are essential, to absorb the teenagers coming of age. Open trade policies can drive faster growth during the window period. Policies to generate capital are needed to fuel growth. The opportunities now present will not last long and will not be repeated.
The window begins to close in all regions, except sub-Saharan Africa, in the next 10-20 years. Investments in education, health, and job creation are vital, also policies that favor the fertility declines that have created and sustained the window. A failure to act could have a damaging effect as unemployment rises, the social fabric crumbles, and rising numbers of old people begin to overwhelm available resources. Accepting and understanding demographic challenges must be a priority for all governments.
Understanding the Demographic Dividend
The world's population 'boom' is not a result of an increase in birth rates, but rather a decrease in death rates. Today more infants and children are surviving into adulthood, while adults are living longer. Since the earth's resources are finite, population must stop growing somehow. Fortunately, birth rates are declining, because no one wants to increase death rates. Unfortunately, population momentum (the 'boom' of young people who are beginning their child-bearing years), and the agonizing slowness with which birth rates are coming down, means the population is still increasing.
When people have fewer children, they are better able to take care of themselves. And women who have fewer children have less risk of maternal mortality. So, with modern medicine and improved lifestyles, people tend to live even longer - causing quite a dilemma: will humankind reach a point where having children is to be discouraged, even to the point of one child or no children families? What will the world be like with fewer and fewer children and more and more elderly people?
Some people do not realize that the earth's resources are finite. Or they believe that God or technology will take care of it. They propose a giant pyramid scheme to continue to produce young people who would take care of the old people - leaving the question of who is going to take care of the young people when they get old? Some propose bringing in immigrants to take care of the old people, but who is going to take care of immigrants when they get old?
Many think that families should be large so that the children can take care of the parents in their old age. They who think so overlook the fact that people with fewer children are better off economically and are usually more able to save and invest for their retirement than if they had spent their money on raising more children.
Until our population stabilizes, nature and limited resources will force us to make a choice: do we put our resources and efforts into preserving the lifestyles and longetivity of old people - and risk losing the ability to breed, resulting in a possible extinction of humanity or of local cultures, or do we make it easier for young adults to have and raise a child or two, and not concentrate so much of our resources towards older people?
Karen Gaia, a senior - WOA!!
*TFR=The total fertility rate: the average
number of children a woman would have in her lifetime if the birth rate of a
particular year remained constant.
For an ideal state to be achieved the total fertility rate used by demographers for the number of children a woman is likely to have needs to be above two: around 2.1 in wealthier countries and higher in poorer countries, due to the fact children are more likely to die before adulthood. However recently, the global fertility rate is beginning to decline. Even in Africa, the number of children per woman in 2010-15 is forecast to fall to 4.7, compared with 5.7 in 1990-95 Overall the average fertility around the world is estimated to be 2.5.
In a growing number of countries the fertility rate has fallen below replacement levels, and this is beginning to worry governments. Fewer babies mean fewer workers later on, and as people are beginning to live longer, they will have to support a growing number of pensioners.
In a growing number of countries the fertility rate has now fallen below replacement level. South Korea, at 1.3, has the lowest rate of any big country. Numbers are also slipping below replacement level in less wealthy South-East Asia. Quite soon half the world's people will live in countries where the population is no longer reproducing itself.
This worries governments, because fewer babies mean fewer workers later on, and as people are living longer, they will have to support a growing number of pensioners.
But is a fertility rate at replacement level the right target? In a recent study Erich Striessnig and Wolfgang Lutz, of the Vienna University of Economics and Business and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, argue that in predicting dependency ratios (the number of children and pensioners compared with people of working age), education should also be taken into account. And that makes optimal rates much lower than previously thought.
Not everyone of working age contributes equally to supporting the dependent population. Better-educated people are more productive and healthier, retire later and live longer. Education levels in most places have been rising and are likely to continue to do so.
Overall the worries about falling populations can be better addressed through education rather than current alternatives such as baby bonuses or tax breaks. But population policies are not all about rational economics: the world pays more attention to populous countries with sizeable armies than small ones without them. And countries that feel under threat tend to look for safety in numbers. It is no accident that, almost alone among developed countries, Israel has a fertility rate well above replacement level, at 2.9
Japan's population began falling in 2004 and is now ageing faster than any other on the planet. More than 22% of Japanese are already 65 or older. A report compiled with the government's co-operation two years ago warned that by 2060 the number of Japanese will have fallen from 127m to about 87m, of whom almost 40% will be 65 or older.
The 2012 government report said that without policy change, by 2110 the number of Japanese could fall to 42.9m, ie just a third of its current population. It is plausible to think that the country could learn to live with its shrinking population. But that might mean also embracing a fall from being the world's third-largest economy.
Some of the solutions considered included allowing immigration (currently only 2% of Japan's population is foreign) and making it easier for mothers to be in the work force. Japan's gender gap is ranked a low 105 out of 136 countries.
Japan is already weighed down by one of the world's largest public debt burdens. With its inverted population pyramid, where will it find the tax base to repay this debt, and to care for its growing population of elderly?
Over the past decade we've had a rich debate on how to expand opportunity for underprivileged children.
But, we've probably placed too much emphasis on early education. Human capital development takes a generation. If you really want to make an impact, you've got to have a developmental strategy for all the learning stages, ages 0 to 25.
And, we've probably put too much weight on school reform. But millions of students can't control their impulses, can't form attachments, don't possess resilience and lack social and emotional skills.
President Obama should sketch out a stage-by-stage developmental agenda to help poor children move from birth to the middle class.
Such an agenda would start before birth. First, children need parents who are ready to care for them. But right now roughly half-a-million children are born each year as a result of unintended pregnancies, often to unmarried women who are not on contraception or are trying to use contraceptives like condoms or the pill. As the University of Pennsylvania's Rebecca Maynard and Isabel Sawhill and Quentin Karpilow of the Brookings Institution have argued, if these women had free access to long-acting reversible contraceptives like I.U.D.'s, then the number of unintended births might decline and the number of children with unready parents might fall, too.
Once born, children are generally better off if they grow up within a loving two-parent marriage. It would be great if we knew how to boost marriage rates, but we don't.
We probably should spend more time thinking about parenting skills such as reading more to their kids, speaking more, using consistent, encouraging discipline.
Once they get to elementary school, children need to learn how to read and write. But that can't happen in schools where 15% of the students are disruptive, where large numbers of students live with so much stress that it has stunted the development of the prefrontal cortexes, sent their cortisol levels surging, heightened their anxiety responses and generally made it hard for them to control themselves.
Therefore, we need more programs that work in schools to help teachers and administrators create "fortified environments," in which overstressed children can receive counseling and treatment, in which the psychic traumas that go with poverty are recognized and addressed.
We also have to help people from poorer families chart a course through the teenage years. We as a nation have made awesome progress in reducing teenage pregnancies, so it is possible to change teenage behavior, even in the face of raging hormones.
It feels like less money has been raised to help teenagers, fewer innovative programs have been initiated.
Concerns regarding fertility rates in Japan have risen, spurred by an announcement that Japan's population has fallen by a quarter of a million individuals in 2013. As the fifth consecutive annual fall, concerns are rising as it is believed that these warnings indicate that Japan may be in terminal decline.
"The stagnation of the lost decades is a symptom of problems brought on by demographic change," wrote Reiko Aoki, an economist at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, last year (Population and Development Review, doi.org/qrc).
As a country with the oldest population in the world, Japan's future has not been condemned to a gloomy future just yet. With an average lifespan of 84 years and a median age of 46 years, what happens in the coming years might even point the way for other countries.
The conventional view is that a declining population hobbles economic growth and the ageing population becomes a major financial burden, but this may not be the case. Nicholas Eberstadt, a demographer at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC says there may be an upside to an ageing population. The proportion of Japan's population that is dependent on those of working age isn't unusual, he says, it's just that it has almost twice as many over-65s as children. Consequently Japan spends less on education. And because the Japanese are the world's healthiest, care bills are also lower than in other nations.
Japan's economic performance for that past two decades, as it has been slowly and continually growing and individual income has been rising strongly - outperforming most US citizens'.
With a population of 127 million people, Japan is hardly empty. But fewer people in future will mean individuals will have more living space, arable land per head, and a higher quality of life, says Eberstadt. Its demands on the planet for food and other resources will also lessen.
Japan is not the only country faced with a demographic contraction: Russia, Romania and Hungary all follow the trend. For many more, it is being delayed by immigration. But the global population bomb is slowly being defused. As Swedish statistician Hans Rosling first noted, the world recently reached "peak child" - the point where the number of children aged 0 to 14 around the globe levels off. Global fertility rates have halved in 40 years - they are now below 2.5 children per woman - and global population may peak soon.
So, far from being a demographic outlier, Japan is "the world leader in demographic change", says Aoki. For some this sounds like a disaster. But others believe that peak population is a necessary first step to reducing our assault on the planet's life-support systems. Japan may just be the country who's footsteps the world will follow.
January 28, 2013,
By: Michael Hodin
UK Prime Minister David Cameron's visit to China in early December this past year, has proved successful. As head of the G-8, Cameron has agreed to hold a Dementia Summit, to address issues regarding the correlation between China's ageing population and various dementia related illnesses.
Current statistics indicate that roughly one in two people over the age of eighty five risk Alzheimer's, and by mid century China will have roughly a population of 55 million individuals that fall into this demographic. Thus, black clouds such as Alzheimer's and other dementia related illness could derail growth.
Bob Zoellick, former president of the World Bank, explains that a central plank in China's economic success will be based on how it urbanizes. China's president Xi Jinping and the Chinese political leadership also recognize that the looming labor crisis associated with their urbanization must be married to successful policy on aging. With China's rapidly aging society -- threatening to become old before they become wealthy -- understanding how to deal these changing demographics is a critical factor in their economic growth plan upon which all else hinges.
Our 21st century is marked by the phenomena of aging societies -- with more old than young -- that will have as much impact on economic growth as any single factor currently more popular on the global agenda. It is at least conceivable that China did indeed get the memo from Standard & Poor's report "Global Population Aging 2010: An Irreversible Truth" that bluntly stated "No other force is likely to shape the future of national economic health, public finances, and national policies as the irreversible rate at which the world's population is growing older." Thus, the future public policies regarding China's 60+ population will not only affect China, but other countries facing similar problems. Countries such as Japan, Thailand, India, and even European countries will look to China not only as an economic leader but as a public policy leader as well.
Japan's under-40s have been losing interest in conventional relationships. Largely free of religious inhibitions, the Japanese have long maintained "a pragmatic separation" between love and sex. Yet today, millions of singles don't date and increasing numbers can't be bothered with sex. Calling it "celibacy syndrome," the government considers this trend a problem.
Japan can almost claim the world's lowest birth rate, and its population (currently 126 million) continues shrinking, while the number of single people has reached a record high. A 2011 survey found that 61% of single men and 49% of single women aged 18-34 had no romantic relationships. Another study found that a third of people under 30 had never dated, and a Japan Family Planning Association (JFPA) survey found that 45% of women and more than 25% of men aged 16-24 either "were not interested in or despised sexual contact." Kunio Kitamura, head of the JFPA, frets that Japan "might eventually perish into extinction."
Perhaps logic outweighs passion in modern Japan. The decision to not have children often makes sense for both sexes, but especially for women. The saying "Marriage is a woman's grave" originally referred to mistresses getting more attention than wives, but today it more often applies to women's fear of setting back their careers. They dread the tender trap. While kids are too costly for most single-income couples, Japanese men don't earn as much as their fathers did and are less secure in their jobs. And while Japanese women have become more independent and ambitious, employers make it difficult for them to combine a career with a family. Bosses also look down on living together or having children out of wedlock, so many now see casual sex or short-term trysts as the safest option. Others turn to technological solutions, such as online porn or virtual-reality "girlfriends." And some just find pastimes that have nothing to do with sex or the opposite sex. Many stay with their parents until middle age. Of the estimated 13 million singles who live with their parents, about three million are over 35.
Tomita, a 32 year old HR worker with two degrees, now spurns all romantic attachments so she can focus on work. When a boyfriend proposed to her three years ago, she realized that her job came first. After that, she said, "I lost interest in dating. It became awkward when the question of the future came up… The bosses assume you will get pregnant." She feared that the long, inflexible hours would force her to resign and end up as a housewife without an independent income. The World Economic Forum ranks Japan very low on both attitudes toward working mothers and parental amenities on the job. Rather than face such barriers, about 70% of Japanese women leave their jobs after giving birth.
In some ways Japan is sexually permissive, yet it still has a double standard toward unwed women having sex. And once couples marry, the family model still defines husbands as salarymen and wives as stay-at-home mothers. Kunio Kitamura (noted above) used these words to explain why a 2013 JFPA study on sex among young people gathered more data from men than women: "Sexual drive comes from males. Females do not experience the same levels of desire." While most young people spurn the government's claim that giving birth is a civic duty, they are still made to feel that something is wrong with the way they think. Ai Aoyama, a sex therapist, blames the government for "whipping up fear about the falling birth rate."
Japan's population last year declined by 212,000, the biggest drop on record, according to an estimate by the nation's Health Ministry.
The number of newborn babies fell to a record low of 1.033 million, down by 18,000 from 2011, Kyodo News reported. Deaths are expected to reach 1.245 million.
The four leading causes of death in Japan were cancer, heart disease, pneumonia and cerebrovascular disease, which together accounted for 60% of the overall death rate.
Japan's fertility rate - defined as the average number of children a woman will have over her lifetime - was 1.39 last year, unchanged from the previous year. Japan has been trying for at least two decades to raise the birth rate without success.
Japan has a shrinking pool of taxable citizens and ballooning social welfare costs to care for an increasing number of elderly.
The low population growth is attributed to factors including the high cost of raising children, more women choosing to remain in the workforce rather than opt for childbirth and the country's reluctance to accept immigrants.
The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research has predicted that Japan's total population would drop to 86.74 million in 2060.
Graying of the Population
The sad story of an aging population
Tom Friedman - NY
A country that invests more in its elderly than its youth, more in nursing homes than schools, will neither invent the future nor own it.
Follow the link in the headlines to hear the debate between Alan Weisman, senior editor and producer for Homeland Productions, author of the books "Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth," and "The World Without Us" and Steven Philip Kramer, professor of Grand Strategy at the National Defense University, author of "The Other Population Crisis: What Governments Can Do About Falling Birth Rates."
The new global population debate. How many humans should, can, will live on this planet?
In 1900, there were a billion and a half people on Earth. In the 20th Century, that population doubled, then doubled again. Now we're over 7 billion. By the end of this century, projections are we'll be near 11 billion humans. We're adding a million every four-and-a-half days. For centuries, doomsayers have warned of an over-population apocalypse. Now the warnings are coming two ways. That we must cut back or nature will do it for us. That in reining in numbers, some nations will fail. Up next On Point: the blazing new debate over human population, high and low, and its impact.
High housing prices are driving people from Singapore. One man, on moving his family to Japan said that prices in Japan are more affordable than properties in Singapore.
Singapore transformed itself from a tiny island nation with no natural resources to one of the richest countries in the world, sustained by encouraging foreign investment and migrant laborers, and is now the third-most densely populated country in the world.
The Singapore government is now planning to increase its total population from 5.3 million to 6.9 million by 2030. Thousand have taken to the streets on Saturday in protest. They have seen an aging population coupled with dwindling birth rates, escalating housing prices, overcrowding, and caving infrastructure.
In addition to the number of foreigners, an estimated 30,000 new permanent residents - a status given to foreigners who live in Singapore for long periods of time - will also be added each year.
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, "Our priority is to maintain a strong Singaporean core by encouraging Singaporeans to get married and have children. We will reduce inflow of foreign workers, moderate flow of new citizens and maintain [permanent resident] population at about present size."
The government's report predicted that the country's population will start to decline by 2025, and over 25% of the number of citizens retiring from the workforce. The fertility rate has now dropped just 1.2 births per woman - among the lowest rates in the world.
Although the government stressed it would maintain a strong Singaporean core in spite of an incoming surge of foreigners, the majority of Singaporeans remain skeptical about its promise to deliver.
"It seems like anyone can just come into Singapore," said one man. "So will having 6.9 million people make Singapore a happier place? Is the economy really that important?"
"The government has been singing the same song for years," one woman said. "They keep adding more and more numbers year after year and assure us that it will be for the best, but when will it end?"
Many say a potential loss of Singapore's national identity is an even more pressing problem than overpopulation.
The opposition Singapore Democratic Party called instead for a plan for businesses to favor Singaporeans when hiring and to tighten the screening of foreign professionals to wean businesses off of cheap foreign labor.
The Singapore government is addressing falling birth rates by will increasing spending on population-growth measures by 25 percent, rolling out incentives ranging from government-paid time off for adoption and paternity leave to funding for fertility treatments.
The fertility rate was at a low of only about 1.2 per woman, but rose to between 1.28 and 1.3 in 2012.
The government feels that the low birth rate undermines Singapore's ability to sustain growth levels achieved by embracing free trade, fostering higher-value manufacturing and nurturing services industries such as gambling and health care.
State-funded childcare leave, healthcare costs and financial support for housing to married couples will be available to provide more comprehensive support for Singaporeans in getting married and starting their families.
The government will pay 75% of the cost of reproduction technology treatments for couples. Newborns will get S$3,000 to help with health-care. The government will also provide S$6,000 for the first two births and S$8,000 each for the third and fourth.
Singapore's citizen workforce will begin shrinking in 2020 while land and labor limits will "increasingly constrain" its economic growth, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said.
November 23 , 2012,
By: Norma Cohen
From the 1960s through the end of the 20th century, there was an unprecedented rise in life expectancy and a drop in birth rates. This left the industrialized world with a demographic profile very different from the 1950s. In addition, there was the post-war baby boom, which resulted in a bulge in the numbers of working-age adults driving the 1982-1999 bull market. The people in this age group were able to save a lot of money.
Now there are indicators that the rates of stock market growth enjoyed by investors during those decades are gone for at least a generation - and possibly forever. With current current trends in birth rates and life expectancy, evidence suggests that ageing populations will weigh on economic growth and asset values for years, if not decades.
Because populations in most major industrialized nations are aging rapidly, the proportion of those saving and investing for retirement is diminishing. The baby boom generation tends to favor safer assets such as bonds. Add this to the regulatory drive to push banks and insurers into "safer" assets and yields on those assets are being driven lower.
With more older, longer-lived adults and fewer younger workers, policy makers are faced with unpalatable choices about how to pay for pensions and healthcare in economies where workers simply cannot provide enough tax revenue to maintain decent standards for those too old to work.
The millions of people who are beginning pension saving for the first time will not see the double-digit returns that the baby boomers took for granted.
Japan, for example, has seen sharply declining fertility rates, net immigration of virtually zero and the longest-lived population of any large economy. Its stock market peaked in the late 1980s - at about the time the size of its working age population did - and has atrophied ever since. Already, those over 65 comprise 25% of the population.
In a recent speech, Ms Sayuri Shirai, a member of the Bank of Japan's Policy Board, noted that stock prices are not the only affected asset class, pointing out that the bursting of Japan's real estate bubble also coincided with the peak in the working age population. As people age, she noted, households with financial resources tilt even more heavily towards "safe" assets, such as deposits and bonds.
A Federal Reserve Board study in 2011 of US stock market performance from 1954 to 2004 looked at the ratio of those in their peak "saving for retirement" years to the number of those who are around retirement age. As the proportion of those at peak savings age rose - it more than trebled up until around 2000 - so did the average price/earnings (p/e) ratio of the stock market. But after that, as boomers began retiring in large numbers, both the proportion of peak savers and the p/e ratio fell sharply.
Mark Speigel, an economist and co-author of the report, said that although it is too early to prove that an aging population causes weaker stock markets, there is clear evidence of a strong correlation.
A similar study by the Financial Times in the UK found a similar pattern.
While those over 65 accounted for 12% of the industrialized world's population in 1982, that has risen to 16% today and is projected to reach 25% by 2042. The working age population within the European Union is expected to decline by 2060 to 56% of the population, from 67% today.
Japanese researchers have now warned of a doomsday scenario if it birth rate decline continues - with the last child to be born there in 3011 and the Japanese people potentially disappearing a few generations later. Another study recently showed Japan's population is expected to fall a third from its current 127.7 million over the next century.
If the birth rate continues to drop at the current rate, it will reach 1.35 children per woman in 50 years.
Why is there a lack of children? It could be that Japan is an extremely expensive country and getting a child through college can wipe out a family's finances. However the Japanese state does throw a lot of money at people with children.
The National Institute of Population and Social Security Research study showed 25% of unmarried men and women in their 30s had never had sex, and most young women preferred being single. Also 60% of unmarried young men didn't have a girlfriend, and nearly 50% of women of the same age weren't dating.
Japan's population isn't falling faster because people there are living longer. Japan has a life expectancy of about 86 years for women and 79 for men at present, and the ages are expected to rise in the coming decades. Over 20% of Japan's people are aged 65 or over, one of the highest proportions of elderly in the world.
Japan's graying population is a real problem for the country's leaders as they need to ensure the dwindling numbers of workers can pay for all the care needed for the growing army of pensioners.
The diaper manufacturer Unicharm recently announced that sales of its adult diapers were now larger than those for babies.
"The universal longevity society is what we humans have longed for and what countries across the globe have been aiming for. Yet, in order for Japan, which is in the process of becoming one, to be truly considered as a model of universal longevity society, the country needs to recover the birth rate," Japan's Council of Aging warned in a letter to the prime minister.
The easy answer would be large-scale immigration from other Asian countries, but the Japanese public has historically opposed such a measure.
Despite concerns about the lack of babies, the country is still packed into the coastal belts because the rest of the country is mostly mountains.
One Japanese person told the author that if there are far fewer people there in the future it will be a much better place to live.
With 60% of the world's population, Asia has one of the largest concentrations globally of aging persons.
"Asian countries, besides Japan perhaps, need to plan now. These countries have grown older before they have grown rich," said Somnath Chatterji with the World Health Organization (WHO) office in New Delhi.
One in four people in Asia will be 60 or older by the year 2050. "China is ageing more rapidly than India because of its one child poli... . . . more at
President Barack Obama's new mandate that insurance companies provide free contraception and sterilization services may actually be a brilliant budget move that will be particularly helpful to states like California. After all, if you don't have children, insurers and government won't be forced to pay for your maternity and child health services.
Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a House panel: "The reduction in the number of pregnancies compensates for the cost of contraception." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in 2009 that contraception "will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government" and will help "stimulate the economy."
Thus the newest health care cost containment strategy appears to be subsidizing women to avoid having children, balance budgets on the backs of not-to-be-born children.
California already has a rapidly graying population, with one in five Californians now 60 years of age or older. In 2010 the state's birth rate fell to its lowest level since 1935, and its fertility rate, the rate at which a society replaces itself through births, has fallen to 1.94, below the 2.1 replacement level, according the California Dept. of Finance. Californians are not having enough babies to replace themselves.
The U.S. total fertility rate, which was 3.17 in 1964, has fallen to 2.06.
By subsidizing free birth control, federal policy appears to be designed to drive these birth rates down even further. We can soon cut budgets for schools, teachers, child health, welfare and other services.
But fewer children mean fewer job creators, fewer employees, fewer taxpayers a shrinking economy, and an even tougher burden on Social Security, which is already facing a financial crisis, with only three workers supporting each retiree compared to 16 workers in 1950, as well as on Medicare and other programs.
Fewer children means less demand for homes, frustrating the ability of the housing market to rebound.
Our poor economy, with an unemployment rate among the highest in the nation, is propelling people to leave the state instead. California's population grew only 0.7% in 2011.
By looking at Europe, we can see where this trend will lead. In Germany, the fertility rate has plummeted to 1.38 children per mother. Germany, France, Italy and other nations, worried about the serious weakening of their economies from sliding birth rates, have now inaugurated tax and cash incentives for having children.
Decisions on birth and birth control should be made by individuals based on their own family and faith considerations, not mandated and manipulated by government.
Population Reduction or Negative Population Growth
November 08, 2012,
Orange County Register
By: Bill Waykins
Note: California's growth rate is 0.9% - not far from where it has been for 15 years - at 1%, which would double the population in 70 years.California is not flat-lining, and it is not almost at zero population growth.
California has almost achieved zero population growth. According to the California Department of Finance, state population has stagnated at sub-1-percent rates for an unprecedented seven consecutive years. The slow growth was a result of negative domestic migration, declining international migration and declining births.
Negative domestic migration results when more people move from California to other states than move to California from other states. It's a clear indication of limited opportunity in California. California has seen negative domestic migration in each of the past 20 years,
International migration to California over the past three years also has been lower in absolute numbers than at any time over the past 20 years.
California last year had fewer births per thousand population than in any year since the mid-1930s. The declining birth rate reflects an aging population, one result of young families leaving the state.
The big risk of zero population growth is that population declines, instead of stabilizing, set up a vicious cycle of economic decline. Countries in this cycle, such as Russia, are desperate to halt the decline.
The families leaving California are the heart of the community and the workforce - upwardly mobile young families. As the middle disappears, the population adopts two modes: an older, wealthier population and a younger, poorer population. Employers leave. The tax base deteriorates. School quality deteriorates. Upwardly mobile families to move away.
Numerous women in the richer parts of Asia prefer the single life to marriage and have few, or more likely, no children. This helps to explain why their fertility rates have fallen.
In fact, in 83 countries and territories around the world, women will not have enough daughters to replace themselves unless their fertility rates rise. In Hong Kong, births to 1,000 women will number just 547 daughters, who will have 299 daughters of their own, and so on - if current birth rates are maintained, taking only 25 generations for Hong Kong's female population to shrink from 3.75 million to just one. This would occur in the year 2798 using Hong Kong's current average age of childbearing, which is 31.4 years.
By the same logic, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and Spain will not see out the next millennium. Even China has only 1,500 years left.
Note: You can comment on this at http://populationforum.org/yaf_postst17_Fertility-Rates--the-Last-Woman.aspx
Japan's Birthrate Rests with 'Freeters'
April 8, 2009,
According to a government white paper, if Japan wants more babies, it needs to help "freeters,"; the country's non-student, job-hopping part-timers, get stable work.
Deaths started outnumbering births in Japan in 2007.
Ultimately, the document said, the decline in working-age citizens will "heavily impact economic society."
The book "Social Sterility In Croatia, Why We Are Unmarried" by Andelka Akrap and Ivan Cipin, “Marriage is the basic reproductory institution, and the less marriages there are directly influences the reproductive potential".
The book was financed by the ministry of families, veterans and intergenerational solidarity.
The main aim is to discover what affects the late entry into marriage and the late birth of children.
Some of the important factors are social and economic conditions, inequality between the sexes, unemployed female work force, inability to find a partner, war of independence, housing problems, poor support for those wanting to have children, the trend of living with your parents longer and other.
Birth Rate in Russia to Grow 26% by Late 2009
March 12, 2007,
Agence France Presse
Russia predicted that their birth rate will increase by 26% by the end of 2009. A set of measures had been introduced including maternity hospital funding and capital payouts ($9,500) for the birth of two or more children.
But a sociologist said Russia's population will fall to 135 million by 2016, from the current 142.2 million.
Social upheaval, low birth rates, the proportion of families with only one child, high male mortality rates, and a decline in internal migration were the main reasons for the population decline.
However, the average life span for Russians had increased slightly from 64.9 years in 2003 to 65.3 years in 2005, but was still less than in Japan, the US, China and some European countries.
The government is implementing a number of programs to increase the birth rate and attract more migrants.
Birth Rate in Russia to Grow 26% by Late 2009 - Health Ministry
March 06, 2007,
RIA Novosti (Russia)
Russia's health ministry predicted that the birth rate will increase by 26% by the end of 2009. Measures had been introduced, including maternity hospital funding and capital payouts ($9,500) for the birth of two or more children.
But Russia's population will fall to 135 million by 2016, from the current 142.2 million.
Social upheaval, low birth rates, the proportion of families with only one child, high male mortality rates, mainly caused by accidents, and a decline in internal migration were the main reasons for the population decline.
However, the average life span for Russians had increased from 64.9 years in 2003 to 65.3 years in 2005, but was far less than in Japan, the US, China and some European countries.
The government is implementing programs to increase the birth rate and attract more migrants.
Why Women Claim Their Right 'Not to Have a Kid': They Delay Childbirth Due to Economic Reasons and Government's Insufficient Maternity Policy
February 06, 2007,
With Korea's dwindling birthrate the government is striving to come up with economic plans to encourage married couples to have children.
Families and society are convincing women of the importance of their role as a mother.
But many women feel that all these efforts are off the point. Is it simply that the country has entered a new era, or is the nation's inefficient maternity policy the reason behind the falling birthrate?
Married couples without kids accounted for 22.2% of Korean households last year. Three-member families - mother, father and child accounted for 20.9%. Those with 2 children dropped to 27% from 31.1% in 2000. Five or more member families fell below 10% for the first time in a decade.
Over 120 obstetrics hospitals closed down due to the lack of patients last year. Last year, the government issued new measures to support working moms, wages paid to female employees at mid-tier companies during their three-month maternity leave are fully covered by the state. Starting March, the government plans to increase the maternity leave wages to 500,000 won a month from the current 400,000 won. Mothers can use their three months of leave anytime up to the time the child is four years old.
But not many regard the government's plan very helpful.
Some 67% said they were delaying childbirth due to childcare and economic reasons, and 87% said the government's policy is insufficient.
Korean society is not ready for such a system and the national budget will run out in less than five years, opponents said.
The plan to support working mothers by building more public nurseries and handing out more economic support appears unachievable.
The decreasing birthrate is a global phenomenon.
Western countries overcame the problem by first examining the issue from a completely different social concept.
For example, France, Sweden and Finland came up with plans to grant legal status to babies born in de facto marriages, including supporting nurseries in offices for working mothers. They were matters to be solved on a whole society basis.
Korea is expected to face a totally different population structure in less than 25 years. Unless they move faster, Korea will be left with a serious economic depression.
Korea's patriarchal family concept is another obstacle. The society is still against babies born to de facto marriages and immigrants
The traditional family concept, inequality of the genders, rigidness of the labor market, high education fees and housing prices, and lack of family policies are, making it harder for women to have babies.
It has long been an article of faith that a declining population means an eventual decline in the influence of a nation. Worried government planners have for decades attempted to turn around shrinking birth rates. An economist argues that in Japan, it is not in more people but in driving technology to new levels.
The European Society for Population Economics argues that as the labor force is aging and the funding problems of pension and health insurance are growing, governments are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up the provision of public goods without resorting to high budget deficits.
Singapore's birth rate fell below replacement levels in 1977 and the rate has never risen back, particularly among the Chinese. Hong Kong's birth rate is even lower, with a fertility rate of 0.93 per couple. For Japan, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development argues that shrinking population means an annual growth rate falling to 1.25% over the next five years. Japan's population has been shrinking at an ever-increasing rate since 2005. The Japanese education system must be opened and internationalised and English, "the language of globalization," must be emphasized.
Slowing population growth has had no impact on the economic effect of other advanced countries, nor do large declines in population lead to permanently lower gross domestic product. Growth has been driven by specialization, innovation and trade, not population growth.
Japan's ability to compete in the coming decade will depend on the country's ability to use specialization and innovation to create a knowledge-based economy.
The Deputy commissioner for policy at the US Social Security Administration told Nova that Japan won't have the world's second-largest economy for very long. First, there is the problem of shrinking numbers of workers. A nation's economic output is the number of workers times the average income per worker. But new startups are rising, foreign ownership is rising and so too are mergers and acquisitions. Greater output can be produced without additional labor or capital resources.
In particular, Japan's just-in-time manufacturing, attention to quality, the drive to lower costs, and design innovation are deeply entrenched in the corporate psyche. The country's lead in robotics and automation is likely to drive cost savings and lift profitability.
Is all that true? Sony is struggling to find its feet. So is Japan. Summer economic numbers were weak. Investment plans are being revised higher and sentiment in the manufacturing sector continues to improve.
In the U.S., 1.7 million members of the class of 2012 will soon embark on the next phase of their lives. A future that looked promising four years ago has dimmed for many in the class of 2012. A disturbing number of those who were successful in college will be forced to take minimum-wage jobs or return home.
The New York Times Magazine interviewed members of the Class of 2011 from Drew University in Madison, N.J. and found that 11 months after graduation, 17% of its sample of Drew grads were unemployed; only 39% had full-time jobs; and 34% of all jobs involved food service, retail customer service, clerical or unskilled work. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that only 5 of the 20 jobs projected to grow fastest over the coming decade would require a bachelor's degree."
Heavy debt to finance college also hangs over most graduates and their families.
With jobless youth a rising problem both in our country and around the world, what can be done to keep societies from imploding under the stress?
The plight of unemployed U.S. college graduates pales in comparison to those Americans with less education or minority status. And nothing can match the sheer scale of youth unemployment around the world.
In Britain, 1 out of every 5 people aged 16 to 24 is unemployed. The majority of those who took to the streets in London last summer were young people who were unemployed, out of school or not in training programs. In Italy, almost 3 in 10 young people between 15 and 24 have no job. The Italian family has become the welfare state, maintaining their children of 20, 30, even 40 years old. In Spain, half of the country's eligible young people cannot find work. Greece's rate is 48%.
Egypt's jobless rate for young people is 25%, and 60% of Egyptians are 30 and under. The jobless rate for those under 18 in South Africa is 70%. In Africa, 3 in 5 of the unemployed are youths.
Even though fertility implosion in the U.S. could lead to lower living standards, this pales under projections that world population will grow from 7 billion today to 9 billion by 2044. A U.N. Population Fund director said: "Most population growth in coming decades will come from the demographic momentum arising from young people who currently populate most of the developing world." This group will account for 80% of world population growth. About 70% of future world population growth will take place in just 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia."
In Bangladesh, a fragile and crowded nation with one of the worst per-capita incomes, 22 million people are projected to join its labor force in the next nine years. In Afghanistan population could double to 63 million by 2050. In Swaziland, children account for 50% of the country's population, a majority of them orphaned by an HIV epidemic that infects 26% of adults. In the Middle East, the population will increase by 132% by 2030, generating an unprecedented youth bulge. Falling fertility rates are welcome, but come too late in the day to change the fate of those already caught up in the momentum.
The Council on Foreign Relations recently warned that the dominant power in the 21st century will depend on human capital. But many of our young people are subject to what sociologists call "failure to launch," with joblessness leading to loss of skills, self-respect and ability to work. Parents have reason to wonder whether we have done enough to prepare them for ruthless competition in a globalized world.
March 24, 2007
China's Economic Growth is Set to Slow - China's economic growth will slow in 2010 when the gap between the working population and those too young or old to work is cancelled out, in China it was at its lowest in 1968, allowing the country to spend less on dependent groups and more on economic development.
China's population structure has contributed to 27% of economic growth, but a country's demographic dividend usually lasts for 40 years until the aging problem looms.
China currently has 144 million people who are over 60 years old, 11% of the 1.3 billion population. But the number will reach 160 million in 2010, 200 million in 2015 and 400 million in 2044, which will result in pressures on the pension and healthcare systems.
China has to invest more in education and training to raise productivity. Otherwise, when the demographic dividend is over, everything will slow down.
From 1950 to 1980, China's population exploded from 500 million to 1 billion, prompting the country to start its family planning policy in the late 1970s.
Only if the fertility rate (the number of children per woman) is above the generational replacement level, namely 2.1, will there be a natural increase in population. But the fertility rate hit a low of around 1.3 at the turn of the century in Germany and Japan - and even lower in Italy, Russia and South Korea.
The base of the age pyramid continues to erode, even more so in countries averse to immigration, like Russia and Japan. Low fertility rates seem to be countered by a steady increase in life expectancy.
Japan reached its population peak in 2008. In Russia, declining life expectancy caused population shrinkage to start as early as 1993.
Ireland, France and a host of countries from Northern and Western Europe claim fertility rates close to generational replacement, which, together with net immigration, keeps their population growing.
Demographers assume that fertility rates will bounce back toward the 2.1 children per woman mark in the coming decades. Even if that happens, Europe's population will peak in the early 2020s, and then follow the path of Japan, Russia, Germany and most East European countries, whose populations have started to decline.
A massive wave of immigration would fill the gap, but that prospect meets strong political resistance in most countries concerned.
The scale of the burden imposed on younger, economically active people is already visible. Japan's dependency ratio -- the population above retirement age related to the active population -- is set to double to 76%, by 2050. In South Korea the ratio is predicted to soar from 17% to 66%. In Spain, Italy and Germany the dependency ratio will be pushed close to 100%. By 2050 Germany's median age will go from 44 to 49, Italy's from 43 to 50, and China from 35 to 49, while Japan and South Korea vie for the 52-years mark.
Rapid aging means a shrinking work force and a narrower pool for entrepreneurship, which undermines prospects for economic growth; threatened public pensions systems; and increased health care and other costs associated with an elderly population.
The only major developed country to remain structurally immune to these heavy trends is the United States, thanks to a fertility rate around the generational replacement level and annual net immigration of 2.7 million people - legal or not. By midcentury, the American median age will be 40 years, compared with 37 today, and the old-age dependency ratio will be below 40%.
I disagree with this article on several points, but it is presented here to show the thinking of many population-concerned. See my comments below ... Karen Gaia.
It seems inevitable that the human race will overpopulate this planet. Sex is the only joy in the lives of too many people, and children still represent social security to the majority of the poor. The major religions are against birth control. It is to their advantage in the short run to create as many potential Catholics as possible. Many governments reward poor women with increased welfare for having more children. All this is a recipe for overpopulation. This planet is a finite system, therefore unless we can stabilize our population, life on Earth will eventually descend into a constant competition for resources. To avoid this, we must make education a priority.
Stabilizing population by unnecessary war is an increasingly dangerous option. Birth control makes the most sense. Abortion is still a necessary evil. We should concentrate on protecting the living, so when does life begin? I would suggest that a human embryo developed to where it can breathe on its own should not be aborted. Every young woman who is old enough to get pregnant, and every young man old enough to impregnate, should be given a complete education regarding sex and birth control. Giving young people the knowledge and tools to avoid unwanted pregnancies cannot be considered immoral. - Epictetus
Sex should be reserved for the most transcendent moments. Its primary purpose has always been to insure the survival of the species, and at present, the human race is in no danger of going extinct. Promiscuous sex too often leads to unwanted pregnancies. In an overcrowded world. It is tragic to continue to add more souls who will never experience a proper, loving environment. The more people who are brought into this world without planning, the worse the situation becomes. Adults in committed relationships are free to have as much sex with each other as they desire. They should, however, make every attempt to avoid having any more children than they honestly need. Through a worldwide program of sex education in schools, at home, and even at church. We now live in a time when unprotected sex can kill us.
It is ironic how many of our current problems are a direct result of overpopulation and how little attention we pay to the subject. Their master plan seems to be keeping most of us dumbed down and in the dark so that we will continue to be easily manipulated. Everyone will need to get involved at the grass roots level. We should make sure all of our children understand the problems caused by overpopulation. Family planning, should be a prerequisite for obtaining a marriage license.
Family planning through education and birth control, along with supporting a woman's right to choose, is the enlightened path to a sustainable world population. We should flood the Third World with birth control then we may be able to stabilize world populations. They are now skyrocketing out of control in a geometric progression.
There will be a difficult period in the near future while the abnormally large "baby boom" generation ages. During this period we should develop a rational immigration policy that will supply the young workers that we will undoubtedly need. All of this should be coupled with intensive negotiations with Third World countries to promote family planning to reduce their populations.
If nothing changes, as it has for so very long now, the future will be a difficult struggle for everyone. Our careless civilization spews pollution into the air and water. We have no escape.
U.S. Fertility Rate Hits 35-Year High, Stabilizing Population
December 21, 2007,
The U.S. fertility rate (the average number of babies being born to each woman) increased 2% between 2005 and 2006, to 2.1. The rising fertility rate is unwelcome news to environmentalists, the "replacement rate" is considered desirable because it means a country is producing enough young people to replace and support aging workers without population growth being so high it taxes national resources.
Industrialized countries have long had fertility rates below the replacement level, creating labor shortages and loss of cultural identity as the proportion of native-born residents shrinks in relation to immigrant populations. Over the long term you can't have significant continued growth or continued decline, neither is sustainable.
Experts cite a complex mix of factors, including lower levels of birth control use, religious values that encourage childbearing, social conditions that make it easier for women to work and have families, and a growing Hispanic population.
The rate dipped below replacement level in 1972 and hit a low of 1.7 in 1976, but it started rising again in the late 1970s. The population rose steadily nevertheless, however, due to, in part, immigration.
The fertility rate finally surpassed the replacement threshold again in 2006. Teenagers may have had some impact, but the birthrate went up for every group, including women in their 20s. Some of the increase is explained by immigration. Foreign-born Hispanics have the highest fertility rate 2.9 (2.1), Asians (1.9) and whites (1.86). For developed countries, a replacement-level fertility rate is considered vital for supplying new workers to pay into the system to support retirees.
If you're talking about replacing the births with migrants, that would lead to fundamental societal change for the receiving country.
But not everyone sees growth as encouraging, given that the US remains a leading consumer of scarce natural resources.
The world is consuming resources faster than the Earth can sustain over the longer term, forests are shrinking, fisheries are collapsing, water tables are falling. Large parts of the world's grasslands are deteriorating. The U.S. is already disproportionately responsible for that because of our very high consumption levels.
Aging, but Not Obsolete
April 12, 2007,
The U.N. Commission on Population and Development is discussing how to harness the untapped potential of older persons. The number of persons 60 or over will reach almost two billion in 2050.
One speaker stressed that "the fact that people throughout the world live longer should be seen as an opportunity for both individuals and society."
Global leaders are aware of some of the challenges posed by aging populations, which include higher costs for social services, labour shortages and higher costs for pensions and health care.
Countries in the West would have to deal with the burden of chronic illness and the feminisation of ageing. The developing world, on the other hand, would have to deal with the burden of illness and maternal and infant mortality.
We need older persons continue to consume, and contribute, whether in the informal or formal workplace. In the developing world there is a larger proportion of older people employed, because they need to earn their livelihood, and they remain a part of the workforce.
Any structure that incentivises leaving the workforce is going to create problems. There are informal structures in the developing world that enable older people to contribute. In many instances in the developed world, the financial situation of retirees is better than when they were active in the workforce, they are wealthier, and their consumption is lower.
People see retirement as freedom, they have already 'done their bit,' but a large incentive for people to continue to work is satisfaction. We have to find creative ways to incentivise this satisfaction and wellbeing. Phased retirement is being used by companies in the US to enable older people to contribute longer. This enables people past the retirement age to keep their jobs, but work less hours.
Another strategy but a negative incentive, was cutting post-retirement medical benefits to coax people to stay at work. Average retirement ages have dropped, and this poses a threat to the financial viability of public budgets. Many older persons who would like to work longer were discriminated against and forced to leave the labour market prematurely or move to low-quality jobs.
The main challenge for low-income countries is to extend social security coverage to the most vulnerable groups. The promotion of decent work is the best way to ensure social protection for all and to allow older age groups to remain active longer. In developing countries poverty among older populations was an increasing concern. Never before had so many people enjoyed such long and healthy lives.
Countries need to change age structures with policies and programmes to meet the needs of all without compromising the rights of individuals to decide the size and timing of their families.
The government approved a plan aimed at boosting the birth rate in Armenia. The $8.6 million program, financed by Western donors, is to boost the country's population. It is aimed at boosting the birth rate and creating favorable conditions for healthy childhood and maternity.
Armenia's population has shrunk since the Soviet collapse as a result of the out-migration of hundreds of thousands of its citizens and a decreased birth rate. Giving birth in any maternity hospital is officially free of charge in Armenia. However, this is rarely enforced due to a well-entrenched system of informal payments levied from the parents and typically involves hundreds of dollars.
The director of the Maternity and Gynecology Institute claimed that parents must pay only for having separate wards and other "special services" in maternity hospitals.
In general, delivery is free of charge for socially vulnerable or poor people he told reporters.
Addressing a business luncheon at the Brisbane Club on Tuesday, September 4th, Mr Beattie said Australia's current ageing population was too small to meet future needs. The credentials of the Queensland government to make any statement on this issue are very poor. It has failed to plan for the large numbers of Australians attracted to SE Queensland when climate change data suggested that they could not be sustained. In South Australia there are targets for an increase in population in the face of water shortage. The pressure comes from commerce, the building and real estate interests. Governments worry about the increasing numbers of elderly Australians and reason that we need more young people to pay for them. How naive, population growth in perpetuity!
No-one likes to talk about it, but population is the common denominator of climate change. Climate change cannot be arrested with an expanding population consuming food and resources. The 2 billion airline journeys each year are the fastest increasing cause of green house emissions, but the world's population by living and breathing creates 4 times as much carbon dioxide each year as the airlines. Even if the world managed to achieve a 52% cut in its 1990 emission levels by 2050 it would be cancelled out by population growth. The most effective global and national climate change strategy is to limit the size of the population.
Procreation is a sensitive issue. This is why it's not on the climate change agenda. There is a similar conflict with the right not to vaccinate. Indeed personal liberty embraces the entire climate change debate. Remember that a non-existent person has no environmental footprint and if you decide to drop dead, emission saving is instant. Don't spoil the show by adding to emissions with cremation in a hardwood coffin. Set an example in a cardboard coffin buried under a native tree that will regenerate even if there is a bush fire.
Catastrophists and Cornucopians
paper by Maria Luisa Cohen
To bring about destruction by overcrowding, we need only breed.
Environmentalists have been accused of being prophets of doom. But lately laments from some commentators about the perils of population decline, say that the "Global Aging Crisis", stunts economic growth and as the cost of pensions and health care consume more of the nation's wealth, it will become difficult for Washington to sustain current levels of military spending or the number of men and women in uniform. What is at stake is the decline of capitalism, which has flourished with population growth.
Governments, media, industries and business in general fear the ageing population in the developed world as against the youthful force of the developing world. Competition about power has got a new name : fertility. Since the UN has downgraded its global population projections, the reaction sounds like they have announced the fatal collision with an asteroid.
Population will add by 2050, a population nearly the current size of India. Growth will be mostly in countries where women average six or more children. Predictions show an 85% chance that the world's population will stop growing before the end of the century and a 15% probability that the world's population at the end of the century will be lower than it is today. For some, the end to world population growth is welcome news for efforts towards sustainable development. Still, the pessimistic view of a population decline depends on the absolute faith in the benefits of population growth. Economists in the West have declared that it will be impossible to sustain the present system of old age pensions. The UN convened a group of experts to examine issues of population aging and decline. In 1937, Maynard Keynes said that the lack of demand from a declining population was the new threat. The Royal Commission reported in 1949 the danger of steady fall in birthrates since 1870. The lack of growth produces a stationary society especially if older people are excluded from the labour market. As life expectancy has increased in all the Western world, it has been associated with longer and healthier life spans in the older population. As a result, people can either work longer or consume less.
Consuming less is anathema for the disciples of the Growth Factor. No society today is against the acceptance of such a dogma, which has become a quasi-religious belief system: economic growth is equivalent with population growth.
The late Julian Simon advocated continued population growth long into the future. "We have the technology to feed, clothe, and supply energy to an ever-growing population for the next 7 billion years". No population growth, no economic growth.
The over-optimistic view that humanity's capacity to overcome every difficulty, has turned on its head, when confronted with the perspective of a diminishing population. If humans are so deft in inventing new solutions to ever increasing problems, so what stands in the way of creating new solutions to the demographic decline, publicised by the press and governments as the ultimate tragic event? We are being instructed to believe that the problem is just one of economics. Ecological concerns are not a priority, nor are related issues of resource's depletion, like energy availability and the like. The fact that many species are in danger of extinction is not a major concern, nor that natural beauty is disappearing under tons of concrete. Though it is undeniable that the density of human populations is responsible for all these destructive outcomes, it is also evident that not everybody is concerned with their disappearance, but rather that what interests people mostly is the sort of human societies that they like to live in, in their economic interest. If people examined the threat to their lives they would take into consideration other factors: Peak Oil is already upon us and its scarcity will profoundly impinge on lifestyle. They should recognise that a less populated world would have everything to gain in security, democracy, liberty, employment, resources availability.
A report claimed that Britain needed to increase its fertility to prevent future tax rises. The report says, that we need more babies to pay for our pensioners but this ignores the fact that those babies will eventually become pensioners themselves. Population would thus have to go on increasing ad infinitum, something the planet cannot support. The European solutions is to fuel more pro-natalist propaganda and more immigration. This ignores the fact that the same immigrants will grow old, become pensioners themselves and in need of more support. More people means need for more people.
Back in 1348, Europe suffered the Black Death or Plague, reduced the estimated European population by about a third. It also brought stability, progress and freedom from want to the people who escaped death. The great reduction in population created opportunities for the survivors and those who came after them; there were fewer people, more jobs and a higher standard of living. The status of women rose. Wages rose for common people. Talented young people were able to advance faster. The power of the kings declined more rapidly. Smaller families represent a great potential opportunity. The world is beset with social, political, and environmental challenges and crises-many caused by rampant population growth.
If there is a time of plenty, this will automatically lead to an increase in population until the natural state of starvation and miseries restored. Uncontrolled birth-rates lead to increased death-rates. It is hard to believe that this is not understood by those leaders who forbid their followers to use effective contraceptive methods. They express a preference for `natural' methods, and a natural method is exactly what they are going to get. It is called starvation.
Policymakers should focus on the advantages of the median income on a per capita basis, that would make more individuals better off, rather than on the gross national product or national income. Governments hate a shrinking population because it restricts their power status, but what matters is GDP per person.
The real crux of the population question is the quality of people's lives; to work, play and die with dignity; to have some sense that one's life has meaning and is connected with other people's lives. Let's look forward to our old age, when we will all be wiser, reasonably healthy and still active in contributing to society.
* We do not have the food to sustain higher populations. * Our planet already suffers from overcrowding. * The environmental impact will bring catastrophe either through pollution or consumption of finite natural resources. * Decreased population will lead to higher wages and a better quality of life.
These arguments do not withstand scrutiny.
The availability of food has greatly increased, even with growing population. Population increase fosters agricultural innovation, which, spurs leaps in production. Overcrowding? This is a problem of density, not population. There's plenty of land available out there. Environmentalists claim that the Earth has a finite supply of resources but markets and human innovation stepped in to provide greater efficiency.
More population means more creators and producers, both of goods and of new knowledge and inventions.
All things being equal, population increase leads to increased per capita production.
There is no precedent in human history for economic growth on declining human capital.
There is good reason to believe population decline wll be bad for us. Innovation will suffer. Areas depopulated or in the process of losing population have almost always been characterized by backward economies.
The supposed benefits of population decline are a mirage. The real question is whether falling populations will lead Western civilization to something like the fall of Rome.
The Graying of China; Growing Ranks of Elderly at Risk of Poverty with Little State Support
January 02, 2007,
China will have almost 290 million people by 2025.
With the number of people 60 and over increasing by 6 million a year and few welfare programs, the fate of China's aged is uncertain.
In China, where age and experience are revered, retirement has been seen as a golden time. Because of the tradition of families caring for older relatives, the government never created a safety net for seniors.
Only when children could not care for their parents the state stepped in to help in a modest way. A recent survey in Beijing found that half of the city's seniors now live alone. Since China limits each family, a typical couple now has to support four elders.
Poverty threatens China's elderly, as few have significant savings. In the Maoist years, rural communities received housing, food coupons, and clothes as compensation, so no one made any money.
Urban workers receive meager pensions, but now even those are under threat. China's pension debt is underfunded, in part because pension money is misused by corrupt government officials.
To ease the burden on retirees, the government makes it easy for them to obtain subsidized housing and there are special stores where the cost of food is subsidized. But these efforts are waning since China embraced free-market principles. About half the country lacks healthcare coverage. Yet life expectancy has crept up since from 66 years in 1979, to 72.
The problem of the aging of the population must be completed before 2030. The central problem is cost. While advanced countries have annual per capita incomes of about $10,000, China's annual per capita income is just about $1,300. The ratio of workers to retirees will decline to 2 to 1 by 2040, short of the 5 to 1 ratio is needed to support a US-style Social Security system. The government is loath to pay pensions from general tax revenue as that would burden the treasury.
Seniors find themselves in a post-industrial, knowledge-led economy, where old neighborhoods are torn down to make way for huge shopping centers.
A sense of community keeps China's retirees, and in the early mornings groups meet to exercise in parks and town squares. No one discusses politics, not in front of foreign journalists.
Years of living under Maoist rule have made many elders wary of outsiders. Many cannot read and write effectively and have no marketable skills.
Yet retirees have not been shy about pushing authorities for adequate pensions and criticizing corruption in their pension plans.
To tamp down discontent among seniors, Beijing has created a National Social Security Fund that receives money from state-run lotteries, as well as 10% of the proceeds from initial public offerings of state-owned companies that go public abroad. But the total is far from sufficient.
Many seniors are resigned to being ignored by the government.
Japan Says Still Time to Reverse Population Decline
December 01, 2006,
Japan's population is dropping more quickly than anticipated but there is still time to encourage young people to have children. Japan needs to find ways to help people balance their jobs and personal lives.
The average number of children a Japanese woman has in a lifetime hit 1.25 last year.
The decline in the number of children is occurring more quickly than expected and we have to reverse the decline in babies. There was a shortage of pediatric doctors and a need to help employees balance long working hours with their personal lives.
But including generous leave for new parents have failed to boost the population, with many young people seeing families as a burden on their careers and lifestyles.
The population peaked at 127,841,000 in December 2004 and has been in decline ever since, standing at 127,767,994 last year.
The decline has raised fears of a crisis as a smaller working population is asked to support a mass of pensioners.
In Shrinking Bulgaria, Where Are the People?; Population Decline is Killing Its Cities
October 11, 2006,
International Herald Tribune
Lucky Bulgaria was founded in 1959. Today the population is 4,000, down from 10,000 in 1990. Only two of the five lead-zinc mines still operate. The streets are tidy and organized and many of the public buildings are freshly painted. Only people are missing. There is no work and all the young people have left.
Bulgaria has a population decline considered to be one of the most severe. The 20 main cities all have lost population since 1989, except for Sofia, the capital.
Bulgaria's population will decline by 34% from 2005 to 2050, from 7.7 million to 5 million.
The the only country likely to lose more of its people was Swaziland, where 38% of the population has HIV.
The problem in Bulgaria is made more complicated by the low standard of living. A national strategy is being started to improve living standards so that Bulgarians have more children. In Bulgaria, there are 1.5 workers for every 2 pensioners and the ratio is getting worse. The population decline began during the Communist era and accelerated when the old system ended in 1989 and the economy collapsed. The fertility rate is now 1.3 in Bulgaria. About 800,000 Bulgarians emigrated from 1989 to 2004. 144 villages have no population and 337 villages have 10 or fewer residents.
The US is set to become the third country after China and India to have 300 million people. Within another 37 years, we are projected to pass 400 million.
Natural increase drives nearly 60% population growth annually. International immigration accounts for about 40%. One of the most significant trends has been the shift of the population west and south. Between 1970 and 2000, the population share in the South and West rose from 48% to 58%. People are moving farther from central cities and their inner suburbs, pushing into woodlands and farmland.
The percent of the total population living in the suburbs of metropolitan areas grew from 38% to 50% between 1970 and 2000, while those living in central cities stayed at around 30%. People are concerned about crowding.
One-person households are more than twice as common as those of five people or more at more than 26% of the total. Young adults are moving out on their own. Older people who are divorced or widowed often choose to live alone.
Many forces underlie these changes. The age at first marriage has risen from 23 to 27 for men and from 21 to 26 for women. Increasing levels of women's education give women more options for independence outside marriage.
Children are moving back home after college. Saddled with school loans, many overcome any reservations they might have had to returning to the nest.
Between 1970 and 2004, the share of women in the labor force rose from 43% to 59%. The array of occupations include far more than the traditional options. Economic forces exerted pressure on families until it was hard for one-income families to get by.
Experts believe the current Social Security system will not be able to cover the payments promised to retirees after 2030. Of Americans ages 25 and older the share who finished high school soared from 55% to 85% between 1970 and 2004. Now more applicants are expected to have a college degree. The number of foreign-born people in the US has reached more than 35 million. But at 12% of the population, the share is lower than it was between 1860 and 1920, when it ranged to 15%.
The largest share of immigrants to the US still comes from Latin America, and from Mexico in particular.
Many are not authorized to be here. Recent estimates peg the number of unauthorized migrants at 11.5 million, with more than one-half from Mexico.
Immigrants are fueling the growth in the number of ethnic minorities. One-fifth of all children under age 18 are either foreign-born or in a family where at least one parent was foreign-born. Today, almost half of all children under age 5 are members of a racial or ethnic minority. And if current trends persist, that share will increase.
These trends could have an impact on the US. Since 1974, the under age 18 have been more likely to live below the poverty line than other age groups. In 2005, 18% of the young lived in poverty, compared with 10% of people 65 and over and 11% ages 18 to 64. Members of racial or ethnic minorities are more likely to live in poverty, with blacks the most likely 34%, Hispanics 28% and whites 14%.
If we don't address these age and race differences in poverty and well-being, today's children may be less able or willing to support the predominantly white when they reach adulthood.
Across the globe, most countries are below the replacement rate of 2.1 children, more will fall below that in the next 25 years. By 2080, world population will probably have peaked around nine billion, after which it will sharply contract.
Between 1990 and 2000, every region saw the fertility rate decline. Let's look at why America's fertility rate has fallen from 7.0 to 2.09 over the last 200 years.
Some reasons are: the spread of abortion, contraception, divorce, women's work opportunities, and the decline of religious belief. People settle farther from their families than before. For a variety of reasons, American women are putting off childbirth until later in life. Two gigantic influences loom: the evolving costs of children and the welfare state.
Children consumed few resources, other than food and clothing, and from a very young age contributed to the household economy by working. Children were once a prime source of nearly-free labor.
By the end of World War II, children disappeared almost entirely from the workforce. Today, children are expected to go to school, and eventually college. As the economic benefits of children began to disappear, the costs of child-rearing began rising geometrically.
As our economy matures, it takes more and more education, and higher and higher credentials, to secure successful employment. Instead of children helping their families economically, one child can easily cost parents $1 million. The other benefit of children has been to care for parents in their old age. But now Social Security and Medicare, provide for the elderly. Modern American society has created an anti-Darwinian system where reproduction is a hindrance to economic and social success. Our plummeting fertility rate is an apparently rational response to our changing lives. It is the logical consequence of a culture that cannot hope to sustain itself.
A Japanese government survey rates that nation as a difficult place for childrearing. Japan has one of the lowest birth rates. On average, a Japanese woman is expected to have only 1.29 kids, in contrast, the fertility rate is 2.04 in the US. Korea has a birth rate of 1.08, the lowest worldwide.
Japanese cited the high cost of raising children and paying for their education as reasons not to have more kids. Japan and Korea have a cultural characteristic in common, they rely on the mother as the main caretaker, instead of viewing childrearing as a responsibility shared by both parents. About 68% of Japanese and Korean moms were the parent caring for a pre-K child, versus 36% of American moms.
In Japan, the practice of keeping workers late into the night is rampant. If you have a job that has limited responsibilities, you might get off at a reasonable hour. But if your career is going anywhere, you're stuck at the office.
Moms with careers keep their kids in day care for 12 hours at a stretch. Others let their careers take a back seat once they have kids. There's roughly 50% of mothers in Japan who are stay-at-home moms.
Japan expects its population to decline in the coming years. In turn, the high ratio of the elderly population is expected to rise.
If Japanese women stay on fertility strike, Japan won't have the workers to remain an economic powerhouse. Japanese companies need to wean themselves off their workaholic habits and create an atmosphere where it's not just acceptable but even macho for fathers to go home to their families at a reasonable hour.
Bernburg, a town of 32,000 125 miles southwest of Berlin, came in last out of 439 German towns, cities and districts in a survey of demographic trends.
Dozens of schools have been closed as birth rates dropped. With an unemployment rate of 20%, many of the youths that grow up here will leave to find work.
Citizens over the age of 65 make up nearly a quarter of the population. Only one in 10 is 15 or below. Germans are living longer, having fewer children and, according to experts, heading for economic decline and a pension crisis.
With fewer than 1.4 babies per woman, Germany ranks near the bottom of the European Union and has the lowest birth rate in the world relative to its overall population.
At the same time Germans are living longer. The figures have laid bare a problem for German society and the "me first" values that some say are dissuading Germans from having children. Policymakers are scrambling to encourage Germans to have more children.
Most German schools shut in the early afternoon and childcare is rudimentary compared to France, which boasts a substantially higher birth rate.
Boosting the birth rate may also require a change in German attitudes toward child-rearing.
German women who continue to work after having children are disparaged as "raven mothers" for leaving their children alone in a "cold nest". In the future, more older Germans will need to be supported by a shrinking number of workers. Immigration could ease the pressure, but not by much if it continues at current intake rates of 100,000 per year.
German public pension outlays represent 12% of GDP and is estimated to increase to 15% by 2050. Public spending on health and long-term care is seen rising to 9% of GDP from 6%, over the same period.
One of the responses is to encourage older people to participate in the workforce longer. The German government has agreed to increase the retirement age to 67 from 65 and make it more costly for workers to take early retirement. Employers will face the ageing of their labour force and a shortage of young, skilled workers.
Africa's Expected Population Bulge Threatens Future Sustainability
March 07, 2006,
Voice of America
Sub-Saharan Africa is among the places where the population is expected to grow over the next 50 years. By the year 2050, demographers predict there will be 1.7 billion people living there, up from the current estimate of 752 million, a leap from 12% to 20% of the world's total population. Population growth is so fast that they cannot provide services, especially education, health and, employment. African birthrates are the highest in the world due to a variety of factors, certainly the desire for large numbers of children. The population is rural and dependent on the land. Governments in Africa have not been efficient in making reproductive health services available. This bulge is coming despite high morbidity rates due to AIDS. Massive population growth assumes there will be a decline in fertility in some African nations and demographers call this "global demographic transition." That is the transformation of populations from short lives and large families to longer lives and smaller families. This has not happened in Africa, and experts warn how overpopulation will add pressures to countries that are too poor to provide basic services. One of the major responsibilities of governments is to look at those trends and integrate into their development plans so that they can plan well ahead of time for the social services, but it's also to create the opportunities to be able to take care of their families. The key is family planning and people in rural areas must have access to contraceptives. Communities want change. But they don't have the services and women are not empowered to make their decisions. The government of Niger is going to give out free contraceptive services and raise the legal age of marriage. But demographic momentum is such that you can't change something overnight, you have to start doing something about it about a generation ahead of time.
Spain's Abortion Rate Soars
December 28, 2005,
The number of abortions in Spain has nearly doubled in the last decade. About 85,000 Spanish women terminated their pregnancies in 2004, compared with 49,000 in 1995. The state-funded schools tiptoe around the subject, and don't even have an established curriculum. The abortion rate among women between the ages of 20 and 29 had also doubled. Many were married or had stable partners and the rise in abortions among these women was partly due to precarious economic conditions. Many wait until they have a permanent post to have children for fear that a pregnancy will dash their chances of a job or promotion. Spain's late business hours make it hard for women to juggle jobs and family and few businesses offer part-time positions. State support for families is among the lowest in the EU.
Chinese Immigrants Continue to Boost Hong Kong Population
August 16, 2005,
Migrants from mainland China continued to boost Hong Kong's population, adding 45,800. Natural growth among citizens in the six months to June was just 15,200, or 0.22% over the period last year. With workers settling from across the border, the population rose 61,000 to 6.94 million, an increase of 0.9% over the first half of 2004. The city recorded 38,000 deaths and 53,200 births. Hong Kong has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world. Officials fear the trend downwards will put pressure on a shrinking workforce to provide security for the growing number of elderly and prompted Hong Kong's political leader Donald Tsang to call on couples to have at least three babies. The government has forecast that the continued influx of Chinese immigrants will swell the population to 8.38 million by 2033.
Experts Believe India's billion plus population is being increasingly regarded as an asset that could drive economic growth. With 2.4% of the global land mass housing 16% cent of the global population, successive governments have been faced with the problem of reducing pressure on ever-dwindling resources. Now its massive workforce is seen as the country's greatest resource. Over the last decade India has emerged as a major back office with global firms outsourcing work to take advantage of the country's educated, English-speaking workforce. India produces 2.5 million Information Technology (IT) graduates a year, plus 650,000 in science and related subjects. The IT sector employs about 850,000 professionals while the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors are snapping up others. The government says 402 million Indians are aged between 15 and 59, and that this number will grow to 820 million by 2020. Economists advocate increased investment in health infrastructure, education and sanitation to take advantage of its opportunities. India will also need to improve the lot of the 3% of its population below the poverty line. India's population growth rate has been declining from 24.6% in the decade 1971-81 to 21.3% during 1991 to 2001 and predicts population stabilization by 2015 or 2020.
Birth Rates in Hong Kong Fall Faster Than Anywhere in World
April 27, 2005,
The number of children per woman in Hong Kong, a city of 6.8 million, has plummetted from three in 1980 to less than 0.8 today. More than one in every four babies born in Hong Kong today is to a mainland woman travelling to the city to give birth and not to a native of Hong Kong. Late marriage, the postponing of child birth and a growing number of women staying unmarried has created a potential population crisis. No other country had experienced such a steep decline in birth rates over the past two decades. The report suggests the government should find means of financing care for an expanding aging population. The population imbalance will hit crisis point around 2013 when the "baby boomer" generation reaches 60 years old. Hong Kong's acting leader acknowledged the population imbalance and appealed to couples to have three children each. The government is considering tax incentives and other policies to encourage bigger families. Sociologists say families have shrunk as Hong Kong becomes more densely populated and the cost of living rises. Most people in the city live in small one-bedroom flats.
The Case for Slowing Population Growth
January 14, 2005,
Debates about population are confusing. One side argues that rising populations threaten our environment and prosperity. The other side, mainly in rich countries, argues that households are having so few children that there won't be enough to care for aging parents. The benefits of slower population growth outweigh the adjustment costs but if global continue to rise, the stresses on the world's resources will worsen. Part of the confusion reflects different population trends in different parts of the world. The fastest population growth is in the poorest regions. Poor people tend to have the most children. Poor farm families rely on their children for security when parents reach old age. Poor families lack access to contraception and have many children as insurance against high child mortality. In Africa, the UN predicts a doubling of population to 1.8 billion in 2050. In Africa, the median age is projected to be 28 in 2050. In Europe, the decline in population will be 630 million in 2050, from 725 million today and the median age to 48 in 2050. The world population is expected to grow by 2.5 billion in 2050 with all growth in the developing world: 1.3 billion in Asia, 900 million in Africa. This will put enormous strains on the entire planet. Total energy use is soaring, reflecting the combined effect of rising per capita incomes - and thus rising per capita energy use - and population growth. Higher energy use is changing the world's climate and increased populations, combined with income growth, are leading to deforestation, depletion of fisheries, land degradation, and the loss of habitat and extinction of a vast number of animal and plant species. Population growth needs to slow by extending family planning services, expanding social security, reducing child mortality and improving education and job opportunities for women. A part of the European public wants to head in the other direction, promoting a return to larger families as thay worry that there won't be enough young workers to pay for public pensions. But this can be met through increased saving by today's young and middle-aged as they prepare for retirement. These workers will reap benefits from living in societies with stable or declining populations. They will spend less to raise children, on new roads, power plants, schools, and other public services. They will enjoy less congested cities and fewer environmental pressures, lower costs in limiting emissions of greenhouse gases, leading to more effective control of climate change. The quality of life will improve as Europe's population declines. For thousands of years, the human population tended to rise and fall without a long-term trend. But the world's population soared from about one billion people in 1820 to 6.3 billion today and a projected 9 billion by 2050. This was made possible by advances in science and technology but has put tremendous pressures on the planet. We should slow population growth through voluntary means, and recognize that leveling off the Earth's population now would add to human happiness and strengthen environmental sustainability later.
Demographic Transition: Solving a Small Family Problem
August 07, 2004,
Financial Times (London)
With modern medicine, hygiene and diet, old people live longer and more young people survive to mating age - causing a surge in population for a generation or two. As these societies become prosperous and better educated, a drop in fertility follows. Today the fate of developing countries hinges on whether we master the lessons of earlier transitions. South of the Mediterranean, economic scarcity has meant rapid population growth and idle men, terrorism, organised crime and violence. Such societies must be hoisted to western levels of prosperity as swiftly as possible and will require public funding for healthcare, education and improvements in the status of women, says argue the United Nations Population Fund. But over the past decade, data shows the process of demographic transition to be more complex and the lessons of rich countries cannot be easily applied to small ones. Many countries below a developed-world standard of living or education have seen their birth rates drop under replacement level. Such changes confound the claim that development is a necessary condition for smaller families. Exceptions run in the other direction as relatively wealthy countries still have robust birth rates. Scholars cannot agree what caused the postwar Baby Boom in the west, and few foresaw the problem of caring for the elderly in a shrinking society. Religious beliefs and attitudes towards women appear to play a bigger role than was previously appreciated. In many countries, the more highly educated woman is less likely to bear children, but the highest fertility in Europe belongs to the Scandinavian countries, which have gone farthest in rethinking traditional family roles. Throughout Europe, initiatives to encourage child-bearing are losing some of the stigma, generous family benefits in Estonia have driven up the birth rate 15%. Societies that have reached the most advanced stages of the demographic transition face unfamiliar problems. Will Europe's population decline continue indefinitely? The demographic transition remains a useful analytic toolbut it is not an iron law.
A study for the European Union by the Vienna Institute of Demography shows that, in many rich countries, highly educated young women have delayed having children due to the the global recession, and -- if governments slash public spending -- may wait for an additional five to eight years.
A steep decline in fertility rates occured in the US and Spain in 2009-10, while rates stagnated in Ireland and most European countries.
Britain was an exception, with population rising by 470,000 to 62.2 million in 2010, the highest annual growth rate for nearly 50 years, a rise caused by natural change rather than immigration for the third consecutive year.
Tomas Sobotka, one of the Austrian report's authors. "It is possible this is because the educated women are choosing to delay having while the less educated are having more."
The report claimed that highly educated women delay having children, especially if they are childless, when employment is uncertain, while "less-educated women often maintain or increase their fertility under economic uncertainty."
On the other hand, men with "low education and low skills face increasing difficulty in finding a partner or in supporting their family, and often show the largest decline in first child birth rates."
Rising unemployment, failing consumer confidence, tighter credit and falling house prices have all affected the birth rates, says the study. 26 out of 27 EU countries had rising birth rates the year before the recession started, but by 2009, 13 countries saw their fertility rates decline and another four countries experienced stable fertility rates.
The massive cuts in social spending in Greece, Britain, Ireland, Spain and elsewhere "could lead to a double dip fertility decline," said Sobotka.
The present recession could have a more permanent effect on birth rates. "Women's age at first birth has reached around 28 in most European countries and Japan," Sobotka said. "This leaves women and couples less flexibility to postpone parenthood until a later age."
Belarus shed a favorable light on living standards and economic progress in the country. The payment of debt to Gazprom has not had any impact on internal stability. Over seven months of 2007, GDP rose by 8.8% compared to last year, keeping pace with the official prognosis of 8-9% while industrial output increased by 7-8% and consumer goods output by 6.2%. Production of food goods fell to 99% of the 2006 level, but labor productivity increased by 8%. The demographic problems appear to be abating as over the first six months of 2007, the national birth rate has risen by 108.8% compared to 2006. The biggest rise is in towns (109.8%), but in rural regions also (106.2%). The most significant improvements are in Homel and Brest oblasts, whereas Vitsebsk region experienced a net loss once again. The mortality rate has dropped to 95.8% of last year's level, with the average lifespan for Belarusian men 63.3 and for women, 75.5.
The Health Ministry allotted payments of $432 to families for the birth of a first child and seven $605 for the second. A program will provide free food for children during the first year of life. The number of people working in the Belarusian economy has risen to 4,409,200, and is anticipated to increase to up to 4,448,000. Only about one-third of Belarusian industries are operating at a profit. 93 investment projects are under way, which include the modernization of several large enterprises.
Foreign investment has led to some joint ventures, Venezuela is prepared to extend credit of $500,000 at an interest rate of 3.5% over 15 years, toward the establishment of joint enterprises in the South American country. But Belarus needs cash and credits. The country has gold reserves of $3 billion, but these could become depleted rapidly. Economic relations with Russia are clouded by fears of the larger country's political goals.
The political power rests on its image of fostering prosperity and stability. Reports of successes are obligatory in order to shore up confidence in the government. They belie problems, particularly outdated factories and a shortage of ready cash.
Chechen Leader Proposes Polygamy for Population Problem
January 16, 2006,
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov put forward polygamy as a solution to the diminishing population in his republic, and perhaps the whole of Russia. There are 10 percent more women than men in the republic and there are men who have two or three wives. Since Chechens are Muslims, religious law allows them to have four wives. Polygamy is an unwritten law in the Russian Caucasus republics and has become more popular since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Polygamy is failing to develop for economic reasons, not for fears of penalties. The former president of the republic of Ingushetia authorised men in 1999 to have up to four wives. But the local parliament voted to annul the measure in 2001 at the request of Moscow, which said that it went against the constitution and the Russian family code.
The fertility rate in the UK in all age groups, except the under 20s, has risen. In 2003 the largest increases were in women aged 35 and over. There were 621,469 live births in England and Wales in 2003 - an increase of 4.3% on 2002. The number of women having children in their 30s and 40s has increased over the last 20 years while the birth rate has dropped for younger women. In 2003, the fertility rate for women aged 35 and over increased by 7%. The trend is pronounced among the wealthier classes. Women feel confident to make decisions having children when the time is right for them. It's important women are aware their fertility declines as they get older. The number of younger women having children has risen for the first time in 14 years. Women aged 25 to 29 were most likely to have had a baby during the year. The rate was 96.4 live births per 1,000 women an increase of 5.2% on 2002, and the first since 1990. The fertility rate among women 30-34 increased by 5.6%. Overall, the average age of pregnancy is now 29.4, and for first time mothers 27.4. Women are having an average of 1.73 babies, an increase from 1.65 in 2002. The lowest fertility rate was 1.63 in 2001. The figures show that over 41% of births were outside marriage in 2003. In Wales more than half of births were outside marriage. Almost all English regions recorded an increase in the total fertility rate of over 4% in 2003. The exception was the North East, where the rate increased by 2.5%. Births to mothers born outside the UK accounted for 18.6% of all births in 2003, more than 50% higher than the proportion of ten years ago.
Today women with small children can be increasingly seen in the streets of Moscow. Since 1999 the birth rate has been on the rise. Experts attribute this to economic recovery and the increase of incomes. Last year the birth rate increased by 6.1% on 2002, with 76,700 more babies than the previous year. There are 10.4 newly-borns per thousand of the population. Middle-aged women living in Moscow account for the largest number of births. Last year women above 30 accounted for 45% of births. Muscovites give birth at the age of 40, 45 and even 50. In the 1990s, it was popular to give birth at home and in the water. Now Russian women insist on traditional in-patient and out-patient clinics, individual approaches, anaesthesia, comfort and the availability of intensive baby therapy. A fashion for late planned babies is spreading in Russian megalopolises. During the Soviet period, young people used to begin their labour at just over 20. Now young people start a family later. In Russia the number of unregistered marriages is on the rise; women first try to make a career, reach financial stability and only then give birth to children. The new government will be asked to raise child allowances, grant housing credits to young families, increase benefits for families with many children and promote family values. Representatives at a recent round table discussion in the State Duma entitled are trying to stimulate births by economic methods. In addition to one-time allowances for newly-borns (4,500 rubles at the place of work, 2,000 rubles at the place of residence plus a 500-ruble monthly child care allowance; 1 US dollar equals 28.5 rubles), they pay bonuses to young families for heirs. In Moscow parents under 30 get an extra payment for the first baby in the amount of 16,000 rubles. The payment for the third baby equals 32,000 rubles. St. Petersburg authorities help young parents find jobs. Some regions issue loans to young families for the purchase of housing with the possibility of loan amortization in the event more babies are born, stipulate tax privileges and benefits for the payment of housing and utilities services. As a result, the birth rate exceeds the number of deaths in 22 regions of the country now.
In the past decade, the proportion of families with children has declined from 65% to 60%. Couples with children have fallen from 52% to 45% of Australia's five million families. Childless couples account for 38%. Although health, education and financial yardsticks are improving, there is increasing isolation. One in 10 over the age of 15 live by themselves, an increase of 50% since 1992. Time spent alone has risen from 18.5 to 21 hours a week . The definition of the ideal family is one in which the quality of relationships irrespective of form, is more important. Patterns show that as women earn more and became more educated, they tend to have fewer children. More people were choosing not to have children because of over-population, the environment and their personal standards of living. The report identifies an increase in the number of people volunteering their time and there has also been a rise in the number of young volunteers. Since 1995, the number of those 18-24 who volunteer work increased from 17% 28%. Volunteers were also more likely to donate money to charity. Generations X and Y are looking for more in life than earning more money. The search for connections in the community appears behind an explosion in the use of the Internet and mobile phones. Overall spending on communication since 1994-95 has doubled, to $12 billion a year, the report says. In 1993, there were 52 telephone or mobile phones for every 100 Australians. By 2002, this figure had grown to 118.
Scots Put Childbirth on Hold
April 29, 2004,
Women over 30 are the most common age group giving birth in Scotland. Women, mostly in affluent areas, are delaying starting a family until later in life. The percentage of women giving birth aged 35 and over is equal to those in the 20 to 24 age group. The number of babies born to women over 34 increased from 6% in 1976 to 17.8% in 2003.
From the NPR show with Dick Gordon (audio stream broadcast): Imagine restaurants with no crying children, adult-only neighborhoods, a museum with no kids. These are some of the ideas that a new group is advocating. They call themselves THINKERS - T-H-I-N-K-E-R - Two Healthy Incomes No Kids Early Retirement. They're tired of being discriminated against, and inconvenienced by a society obsessed with children. They're fed up with parking spaces reserved for pregnant moms, time off work for parents, and unequal expectations at the office. With baby boomers nearing retirement, and fewer households having kids, this movement is rephrasing old questions about a woman and a man's right to choose.
Russians Alarmed at Population Slump, Wary Over Immigrants
September 01, 2003,
Agence France Presse
Of 1,500 Russians polled, 59% said they were anxious with regard to Russia's shrinking workforce, 26% said they were somewhat disturbed and 13% took a positive view. 84% believed the downward trend would have an adverse effect on the economy but 44% were reluctant to see immigrant workers allowed into Russia, while 13% were opposed to immigration. 14% would accept foreign workers from developed countries, 11% percent favoured workers from the 12 former members of the Soviet Republic. The population shrank by 454,200 in the first half of 2003. If this continues, the population, of 144.5 million could dip below 100 million by mid-century.
The Old World - Shrinking with Age: Population Decline Will Transform Europe
March 01, 2003,
Financial Times (London)
The world's population will be higher in 2050, though growth is slowing. Growth will be in the less-developed countries, as the population of richer countries levels off or even falls. This will have far-reaching consequences for Europe. By 2050, the number of Africans will more than double to 1.8 billion, a fifth of humanity. Asians will be in the majority, having risen from 3.7 billion to 5.2 billion. The richer countries of Europe and North America will have hardly grown at 1.2 billion. Europe's population, will fall to 632 million in 2050, while the US will rise to 409 million. Countries such as Britain and France will continue to grow, and in countries in southern and eastern Europe numbers will fall. Italy is likely to lose a fifth of its population, Hungary a quarter and Estonia 52%. Europe's fall may be temporary, as people wait until later in life to start a family. On the forecast trends, the median age will have risen to 47.7 in Europe by 2050, while staying below 40 in the US. The ageing of the European countries will strain welfare as more than a third of their population will be over 60 and more than half over 50. Economic growth will fall behind that of the US where dependency ratios will be lower. European countries will also have to choose between decline and replenishing populations through immigration.
Shifting Family Values
A generation of Japanese is giving their nation one of the world's lowest birthrates. In 25 years, more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older. Smarter and better educated women are unable to find companies that accept working wives. More than 7 million unmarried Japanese women live with mom and dad. Many fret about losing their independence if they quit work and leave their parents. Professional women can take shopping trips to Paris or New York. They're Japan's biggest consumers. The rent or mortgage payment for a married couple is high, and the new couple typically goes from two incomes to one. The cost of raising a child on a single salary is prohibitive. Career women face the same demands as men to work long hours; during peak work periods, many don't get home before midnight. If they get pregnant, they often are forced to quit. Husbands, however, still expect their wives to rush home and prepare dinner each night. 49.8% of unmarried Japanese men ages 18 to 34 said they had no social relations, the comparable level for women is 41.9%. When Japanese men and women do meet, they have trouble talking to each other. And marriage isn't the ticket to a good sex life. One in five married couples in their 30s and 40s said they have sex less than once a month.
Eastern Europe's Falling Birth Rates Spell Problems for An Ageing EU
December 08, 2002,
Agence France Presse
The ex-communist eastern European countries have large, young workforces but falling birth rates. Poland has lost one million inhabitants in four years. Estonia's population will drop by 36% and Hungary by 20%. All the countries have birth rates of less than 1.5 children per woman. At the end of the 1990s Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Latvia had the lowest birth rates in the world, a drop of more than 30%. The average age of the Slovakian population will climb from 36 in 2001 to nearly 48 in 2050. In these countries children have a high risk of poverty. Under communism homes were distributed according to the number of children, women's employment was guaranteed, and there were plenty of creches and nursery schools. The ageing population will cause problems for pension systems and social security. The crumbling population is not of general concern except in Hungary where the Socialist government increased family grants by 20% and doubled grants to help families with children build their own homes. Poland's Catholic Church blames western ways for the decline. Slovakia has tried in vain to ban voluntary abortions. The drop in workforce numbers and economic growth in eastern Europe will cause labour shortages forcing a return to immigration.
Does Population Matter?
December 07, 2002,
To overcome poverty, countries must fight unwanted fertility, illiteracy and discrimination against women. The 1960s favoured the view that high fertility hindered development. In the 1980s, the revisionists argued that population has little impact on growth. Over the past years economists agree that population does matter. The important thing is the age structure. People are living longer, children have better chances of survival, fertility rates are falling, leading to a higher ratio of working-age adults to dependants. If the labour market can absorb more workers, production per head will increase. Parents with fewer children can invest more in health and education, creating a more productive workforce. Low fertility leads to more older people, raising the dependency ratio. Investment and saving, provision of health care and education are essential to making the population more productive. A change in the age structure, due to a drop in mortality and fertility, will promote growth. Having fewer babies also changes the distribution of consumption in favour of the poor as it eventually affects the supply of workers which help increase employment and wages. Between 1965 and 1990, the working-age group in Asia rose from around 57% to over 65%, increasing four times faster than the number of dependants, accounting for around a third of the growth in income per head. In Latin America income per head grew by only 0.7% per year between 1975 and 1995, compared with 6.8% for East Asia. Studies suggest that had the region been more open to trade, average growth would have doubled. South Asia will reach its peak of workers to dependants between 2015 and 2025. Poor Latin American countries peak in 2020-30. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 11 countries are expected to reach that stage before 2050, and a lot has to be done to reduce fertility. The rapid rise in AIDS deaths will frustrate changes in age structure that would otherwise occur.
In much of Southern and Eastern Europe, women have an average of 1.3 children. 60 countries have fertility rates below replacement levels, from Europe and North America to East Asia and the Caribbean. In 1950 the average woman had five children, today she has 2.7. After 2050, the world's population could fall says Joseph Chamie, head of the United Nations population division. Japan expects to have 14% fewer people, Italy 25%, and Russia 30% fewer. There are likely to be 3 billion extra people by 2050, but at the end of the 21st century there could be fewer. In Bangladesh and India the decline in the birth rate has been among illiterate women. In Brazil, fertility rates have fallen from six to two in 40 years. In Iran, women have cut the fertility rate by two-thirds in less than 20 years. Apart from the availability of contraception, the only common factor is the spread of women's emancipation. Poor and ill-educated women are seizing their chance for a better life and questioning the need for parenthood. Israel, Argentina and Malaysia have kept fertility rates around three children. The U.S. has not dropped fertility levels, because of the influx of immigrants with high fertility rates. In many African and hard-line Muslim nations, women still have six children or more. An increase in poverty, a waning of female emancipation or a growth in religious fundamentalism might cause family sizes to grow. The spread of HIV could cause countries to slip into decline. In Europe, the highest fertility rates are in Scandinavia. Women there combine motherhood with a career. If men began to allow women to resume childbearing, the baby bust might be ended. Illegal immigrants, refugees, and economic migrants are ostracized, but as the supply of young adults slows they will be in increasing demand. As childbirth declines, the elderly population is already growing. The average age today is 28; by 2050, it will be around 40, which will put pressure on pensions and health services. It could herald a more-conservative, less-innovative world or perhaps we should herald the advent of an older, wiser, gentler world.
Ageing Population Could Threaten Asia's Economic Growth
Agence France Presse
The ageing population in developed countries could hurt Asian economies as funds are used to finance pension budgets. If the affluent economies fail to confront their ageing challenge, the crisis could engulf the rest of the world. East Asia may experience shortages as funds are diverted from investments in Hong Kong and Singapore to pension deficits in Berlin and Washington. This will result in shrinking Asian exports which will lead to slower growth in Asia. The world cannot avoid an ageing population, caused by lower fertility rates and higher life expectancy. Over the next few decades, the ageing population will impose new costs on public budgets, bankrupting any government that fails to prepare. It threatens to usher in labour shortages and slower economic growth. It could destabilise financial markets and it may even overturn geopolitical order. Time is running out for policymakers to deal with the issue.
Italy: The U.N. Report: Order to Procreate
The Washington Times
In a speech to the Italian parliament Pope John Paul II urged Italian families to have more children, The declining birthrate is a grave threat the pontiff said. Italy is one of several industrialized nations with its population growing smaller and older. Italy's population will decline by 25% in two generations. Mr. Chamie, head of UN Population Division said that the world has never before seen an era in which population voluntarily declined and there are economic, social, geopolitical and cultural consequences including pensions health care for the elderly, and economic growth. Mr. Chamie warned that Italy will be like Baltimore, where young people have escaped to New York and they'll have to start advertising for immigrants.
Russia's Population Decline Not as Sharp as Experts Predicted
Results from last month's census show that Russia's population has not declined as much as predicted. Early data indicate Russia's population is about 145 million - two million more than the last estimates. Russia's last census - in 1989, counted 147 million people. The country's birth rate and declining health of its citizens prompted officials to revise the number downwards. The State Statistics Committee estimated the population had shrunk to 143.4 million. Largest increases were in Moscow and four egions including Chechnya where war has raged for nearly a decade. The census counted 1,088,000 Chechens. Human rights groups expressed skepticism about the accuracy of the Chechnya count, given that many Chechens fled in 1994-96 and 1999. The State Statistics Committee estimated Chechnya's 1994 population to be 1,079,000 declining to 865,000 in 1996. This year's census was scheduled for 1999 but was delayed for lack of funds. Critics question whether the census is accurate given Russians' distrust of authorities and that many immigrants, who don't have the proper papers, may have avoided census takers.
Japan Set to Have Oldest Population
October 17, 2002,
By 2025, 37.27 million Japanese, almost every third person will be 65 or older. 59.6% will be 75 and older. The overall population is expected to shrink to 120.29 million in 2025, The declining birthrate is due to the number of women opting for a career and delaying marriage. There will be fewer young people care for the elderly. Japan will review its welfare system and use elderly people as workers.
Most Americans are healthy and active into their 70s and beyond and staying "young" longer than they used to. We have grouped the population as, "under age 18" or "65 and over" but those terms reflect a departed era. When Social Security began, average life expectancy was less than 62. 70 was proposed as the age for collecting benefits but 65 was eventually chosen. Most 18-year-olds were independent of their parents but yoday, young Americans don't take on adult roles until they are 25 or older. In 1999, 60% of those 18 to 24 were living with parents or relatives. In the developed world healthy life expectancy is growing fast. Americans who reach 65 can expect to live 18 years and even more in the 21st century. As recently as 1970, the census lumped all people 65 and older into a single population, but demographers divide them into multiple age groups. In terms of what people can do, physically and mentally, each generation reaching 80 has been less infirm than its predecessor. This new standard seems to have pushed "old age" well into the 70s and beyond. Americans--both individuals and institutions--need to revise their assumptions about what "old" means.