News Analysis

News: Demography (Supplement)


Demography at Statistics Canada: an Outline (880128)

Boomers And Busters (London Times, 970821)

Americans Live Longer as Infant and AIDS Deaths Fall (970912)

20th Century Sees Quadrupling of the Earth’s Population (Foxnews, 980512)

WHO Issues Far-Reaching Report on Life Expectancy (980512)

Greying boomers threaten growth (980604)

Scientists Find Out Why It’s a Small World After All (980604)

Are People the Problem? UNFPA’s annual world population report (011120)

U.S. sees infant mortality down one-third from 1980 (980702)

Rapid growth in minority population transforms U.S. (Washington Times, 991010)

Chinese: English Canada’s second language (Ottawa Citizen, 991027)

Canada’s fertility rate at record low (Ottawa Citizen, 020927)

Nuclear family: Canada’s newest minority (Ottawa Citizen, 021023)

Two-parent households are waning (National Post, 021023)

Will Italy and rest of Europe depopulate itself to extinction? (Weekly Standard, 040430)

Careers curtailing children (National Post, 040531)

Pensions need $160B to erase shortfalls: accountants (CBC, 040609)

U.N.: Population Will Hit 9 Billion by 2300 (Foxnews, 041105)

The Baby Boomers and Their Times (Christian Post, 051101)

Europe’s ‘baby bust’ signals major change (Washington Times, 051124)

Generations X and Y suffer boomer-angst (Washington Times, 051212)

Sayonara (National Review Online, 060227)

Officials: U.S. Deaths See Largest Drop in 60 Years (Foxnews, 060419)

The Population Sink: Philip Longman and the decline of populations. (Weekly Standard, 060607)

Russia faces demographic disaster (BBC News, Moscow, 060607)

Demographic crisis looming for aging Canadian population (National Post, 060615)

Germans Reap Extra Benefits for Having Babies (Christian Post, 070104)

Where Parents Favor Baby Boys to Girls, China to Have 15M More Men Than Women in 20 Years (Foxnews, 070112)

51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse (New York Times, 070116)

‘I do,’ later on: Canadians tying the knot later (National Post, 070117)

Fed Chair Bernanke: Impending Baby Boomer Retirement Could ‘Seriously’ Weaken Economy (Foxnews, 070118)

Life Expectancy in U.S. Rises to Nearly 78 Years (Foxnews, 070912)

Population Wars: Why Europe’s demography is more complicated than you may think. (Weekly Standard, 071001)

China: No Changes to One-Child Policy for 10 Years (Foxnews, 080310)

Census Bureau Estimates U.S. Population Continues Shift to South, West (Foxnews, 080327)

Demographic Winter (BreakPoint, 080609)

Demographics and Prosperity (BreakPoint, 080610)

A Day without Mexicans (BreakPoint, 080611)

Europe sets date when deaths overtake births: 7 years (Paris, International Herald, 080826)

Don’t Mess with the Moral Order (BreakPoint, 080714)

Global Number of Early Childhood Deaths Falls Below 9 Million for First Time (Paris, International Herald, 090909)

Climate Change: The Bell Tolls for Thee (Christian Post, 091216)

Canada will have more seniors than kids in the next decade: StatsCan (National Post, 100608)





Demography at Statistics Canada: an Outline (880128)


by Anatole Romaniuc


1. Areas of Demography


Population growth         Fertility     Economic Demography

Age and sex structure     Mortality     Medical Demography

Migration       (health, causes of death, etc.)

Family and Household Demography

Socio Cultural Demography



2. A Cross sectional Perspective of Demography


Data Collection


Measurements, Quantification

(Calculation of Indices, Evaluation, Estimation)



(Relationships, Causality, Impacts and Consequences)



(Elaboration and Re evaluation of Theories)




3. Applications of Demography


social and economic indicators

StatCan surveys



revenue transfers and grants, cost sharing


4. Future Plans


accuracy and timeliness

migration estimate based on administrative files

new methods of estimating households and families

common law union estimates

strategy for 1990’s


5. Parametrization of 3 factors of population change



Total fertility rate       Level

Mean age of fertility      Age Pattern

Modal age of fertility



Total mortality rate       Level

Mean age of mortality      Age Pattern

Modal age of mortality


MIGRATION (international and internal)


Labour force dominated migration pattern

Family dominated migration pattern

Retirement dominated migration pattern


6. Future population trend and solutions


Demographic Stagnation (low fertility, no growth and aging)


Adjustments in social and institutional areas


Prop up birth rate (economic incentives, fostering pro family values)




Boomers And Busters (London Times, 970821)


Today’s toddlers may bear the biggest pension burden of all


When the 1947 baby boom caught planners by surprise, prefabricated classrooms had to house the extra 100,000 infants, the equivalent of an additional class in every single school. The second baby boom ­ from 1961 to 1971 ­ happened more gradually, allowing educationists to cope. But are policymakers thinking hard enough about the longer-term future of these people? A new study, Baby Boomers: Ageing in the 21st Century, from Age Concern, predicts that retirement for today’s twenty to thirtysomethings could be precarious unless they start planning for it now.


For their parents’ generation, life was comparatively secure. Though born into an age of austerity, during and after the War, they could look forward to high employment and lifetime jobs with predictable promotions. The nurturing embrace of the cradle-to-grave welfare state protected them against the vicissitudes of life. In old age, they were likely to have both a spouse and children to help to care for them.


People born in the 1960s, while they were reared in an age of prosperity, entered the labour market at a time of recession. Technological change and global competition have only made employment more insecure. No longer are there jobs for life, and neither the employer nor the State is likely to take on a paternalistic role.


If members of this generation have to fend for themselves at work, they are also increasingly likely to have to do so at home. A higher proportion will remain single or, if married, will divorce. Many fewer will have children, and those who do will have fewer children. Of today’s old and infirm people, 93% seek help from relatives. But when the baby boomers become old and frail, their daughters (for women tend to take on the responsibility) are more likely to be working full-time and unable to help.


Altogether, there will be a much higher number of retired people compared with the working population expected to support them, not just because of the 1960s boom in births, but because of the relatively small size of succeeding generations. By 2020, there will be six people over retirement age for every ten of working age: in 1991, the ratio was just three to ten. That suggests not just fewer carers, but fewer taxpayers willing to fund the greater demands on the NHS and long-term care of the elderly.


The picture is not entirely bleak, for this baby-boom generation is more likely to have second pensions, either occupational or private, and own a house. They may be able to afford to pay for more care out of their own pockets. But they will also have experienced more fragmented employment than their parents, with greater emphasis on temporary, freelance and part-time work.


This will be a generation reared on high expectations and an awareness of consumer rights. By 2021, the proportion of the electorate that is retired will have risen from a quarter to a third. If they manage to capture the political agenda and achieve higher public spending on the old funded by taxes, it could be their children, the toddlers of today, who bear the biggest burden of all.




Americans Live Longer as Infant and AIDS Deaths Fall (970912)


ATLANTA — Life expectancy reached an all-time high of 76.1 years in the United States last year, as infant mortality fell to a record low and deaths from AIDS declined, U.S. health officials said Thursday.


In a wide-ranging analysis of preliminary birth and death statistics from 1996, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the age-adjusted death rate from AIDS dropped from 15.6 deaths per 100,000 population in 1995 to 11.6 in 1996.


AIDS is no longer the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 25 and 44, the agency said.


“The 26% decline in deaths from HIV/AIDS in a single year reported by CDC today is truly a remarkable achievement,” Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala said in a statement.


Life expectancy reached an all-time high of 76.1 years in 1996, up from 75.8 in 1995, the CDC said. Record-high life expectancies were reached for white and black males and for black females.


Age-adjusted homicide and suicide rates fell in 1996, but murders and suicides remained the second and third leading causes of death, respectively, among young people between the ages of 15 and 24.


The homicide rate dropped about 11% to 8.4 murders per 100,000 population in 1996. The suicide rate fell about four percent last year to 10.8 per 100,000.


Infant mortality fell to 7.2 deaths per 1,000 live births last year. The rate among whites fell to 6.0 per 1,000, while the black rate fell to 14.2.


The teen birth rate dropped four percent in 1996 and has declined 12% since 1991. “It has dropped steadily every year during that period,” Stephanie Ventura, a statistician for the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics said.


The CDC said the proportion of teen-age women having sex has leveled off, and teen-agers who are sexually active are increasingly using condoms.




20th Century Sees Quadrupling of the Earth’s Population (Foxnews, 980512)


Despite the litany of threats that nature — and man himself — provide, mankind is the success story of the 20th century, at least in terms of raw numbers.


According to data released Tuesday by the Population Reference Bureau, a nongovernmental and nonprofit research organization, the second half of the 20th century marked an unprecedented explosion, and the century will end with a world population of over 6 billion.


The last 50 years were “a period of explosive growth” and it likely “will be at least duplicated during the first half of the next century,” the bureau said.


According to demographers estimates, the 20th century began with a world populated by 1.6 billion people and will end with 6 billion inhabitants.


By 1950, world population had reached 2.5 billion. That was an increase of 900 million people in 50 years.


However, many factors could intercede and make an enormous difference, the bureau said. Families making individual decisions may decide to limit the number of children they have or the growth rate could be influenced by economic circumstances, life expectancy or the improved birth control technology.


The most alarming prospect for humanity, according to the study: Ninety percent of young people in or near the childbearing ages of 15 to 19 live in developing countries.


In the most fertile part of the world, middle Africa, 18% of women of early childbearing age give birth each year, the bureau said. In Western Europe, only 1% do. In the United States the rate is 5% and in Asia it is 4%.


Early childbearing speeds population growth by cutting the number of years between generations, said Carl Haub, senior demographer at the bureau.


“When we ask what the future size of world population will be, we are really asking how many children today’s youth’s will have,” he said.


Looking ahead to 2010, the bureau projects that China, India, the United States and Indonesia will remain the four largest countries. Pakistan, now seventh, will jump to fifth and Brazil will drop to sixth.


Russia, now sixth, will fall to ninth place. Japan, now eighth, will drop to tenth. Moving ahead of Russia will be Nigeria, now seventh-largest, and Bangladesh, now ninth.


Among the large countries, Russia is the only one projected to show a population drop, from 147 million today to 142 million in 2010 and 135 million in 2025.




WHO Issues Far-Reaching Report on Life Expectancy (980512)


GENEVA — Iceland, Italy, Japan and Sweden will lead the world in life expectancy in 2025, with babies born that year likely to live to 82, the World Health Organization predicted today.


Americans born in 2025 can expect to live to 80, three years longer than their current prospects, WHO said.


Sierra Leone will fare the worst, with babies born in that West African country likely to live only an average of 51 years. The life expectancy of babies born now is 38 years, the U.N. agency said in its annual World Health Report.


Not only are people living longer, but in some countries older people are staying healthier.


“It suggests that we are slowly learning one of life’s most important lessons: not just how to live longer, but also how to stay longer in good health with less disability,” said outgoing Director-General Hiroshi Nakajima.


Afflictions like cancer, cardiovascular ailments and diabetes remain major concerns, but the report shows that deaths from heart disease have been dramatically reduced in many countries where people exercise more and eat better diets.


Former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, who is to be confirmed this week as Nakajima’s successor, told reporters she was declaring war on smoking as one of the ways to attack cancer and heart disease.


“Tobacco has to be addressed and fought now,” she said.


At the same time the United States and other developed countries face a growing problem: overweight children, who eat too much fat and sugar. Many, especially girls, exercise too little, the 241-page study said.


The wide-ranging study, which kicks off the yearly meeting of WHO’s 191 member countries, gives an overview of progress made during the agency’s 50 years of existence.


“There have been spectacular advances in the development of vaccines and medicines,” with complete or near knockouts of such infectious diseases as smallpox, polio and leprosy, said Nakajima.


But “overall, remarkable improvements in health” have resulted from something less glamorous: more people have access to clean water, sanitation facilities and national health services.


At the bottom of the chart, progress in Sierra Leone and other African countries depends partly on provision of safe water and sanitation and improvement of health care for mothers and children.


AIDS and other emerging infectious disease will continue to pose threats into the next century, as will resurging tuberculosis, the report said.


The agency said it has been difficult to predict the impact of the new variant of the brain-wasting Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, attributed to eating meat from cattle afflicted with so-called “mad cow” disease.


But a large epidemic is possible in coming decades, and treatment must be found, WHO said.




Greying boomers threaten growth (980604)


Government fears stall in economy


The Finance Department fears an aging population and a slowdown in business investment will soon start to severely rein in the economy’s ability to expand and will continue to do so well into the next century.


Documents obtained from the department through Access to Information legislation show that concern is shared by four private-sector economic forecasters, although none is anywhere near as pessimistic as the department.


If those fears are realized to any extent, it will force the Bank of Canada to step in sooner than would otherwise be the case to limit job-growth opportunities to keep the economy from overheating.


The department projects that the “potential output growth” of the economy —its maximum annual pace of expansion without inflationary pressures building — after hitting a peak of just under 2.5% next year, will go into a steady, long-term decline to just over one percent by 2015.


The economy expanded by 3.8% last year, well beyond its potential output growth, and is expected to grow at an above-potential pace of about three percent this year. But that’s because there’s still a lot of slack in the economy and, as such, no danger yet of inflation.


But the Bank of Canada has repeatedly warned that once that slack is taken up, it will not let the economy continue to expand at an above-potential rate. In fact, the bank began taking its foot off the accelerator last fall by raising interest rates to slow growth in the belief the economy was within a year of hitting its capacity.


Only its fear now that the Asian crisis might dampen growth has kept the bank from raising rates further. And the bank is now saying it doesn’t expect the economy to hit its non-inflationary capacity until some time next year.


The Finance Department’s Comparison of Canadian Long-Term Economic Projections, prepared last fall, states that “all of the projections incorporate a long-term decline in potential output growth, although the magnitude and timing of the decline do vary across projections.


“The aging of the population is expected to put downward pressure on the growth rate of the labour force,” it says.


That will mean both fewer young people entering the labour market and an increase in older workers leaving.


A shortage of workers in a hot economy would result in a bidding up of salaries, one of the classic causes of an inflationary spiral.


And the department says the “ultimate negative effect of the aging of the population É cannot be fully offset” even if there is an increase in the proportion of women or of persons in certain age groups that remain or enter the labour force.


The department softens its pessimism by noting that all the projections assume government policy will remain unchanged.


And it suggests some changes in policy that could improve those projections.


For example, it notes that increasing the level of immigration could help offset the slowdown in the growth of the pool of available workers that is expected to result from the ageing of the population.


The Finance Department also estimates in the documents that the lowest unemployment can be pushed without sparking inflation — the so-called non-inflationary rate of unemployment — is about eight percent.


But it also stressed, in additional documents it released, that Finance Minister Paul Martin has publicly stated he does not accept those estimates.


“We in the country can certainly drive the unemployment rate down substantially further than economists would say without triggering inflation,” is one of several recent quotes from Mr. Martin the department cites.


While the jobless rate here is 8.4%, it notes that Mr. Martin has suggested the rate can be brought down to the less-than-five-per-cent rate in the U.S.


“I really do believe that the same phenomenon that is taking place in the United States is taking place in Canada,” according to another Martin quote it cites.


But the department is also worried that an expected “decline in investment growth” in new machinery and equipment and technology will curb the economy’s potential for growth.


“The capital stock also contributes to the long-term decline in potential output growth in all of the projections,” it states.


A decline in the pace of investment over time reduces an economy’s ability to produce goods efficiently and cheaply, leading to higher prices, the flip side of the inflation coin.


However, none of four other forecasters cited by the department expects as steep a decline in the economy’s potential non-inflationary growth as the department does.


In fact, the Conference Board of Canada and Standard & Poor’s DRI Canada, see the economy’s potential pace of growth picking up to between 2.5 and 3.0% until shortly after the turn of the century. It’s only then that they expect some decline in the years leading up to 2015, though none to the level the Finance Department projects.




Scientists Find Out Why It’s a Small World After All (980604)


It happens constantly. We bump into people — strangers — who happen to know our college roommate or our brother’s best friend or our colleague’s spouse.


The notion that everyone in the world is connected by no more than six degrees — a chain of six acquaintances — was first proposed in a 1967 study and then popularized by John Guare’s 1990 play, Six Degrees of Separation. Now two scientists have proposed that the network that can be found to link any two people in the world may exist as a kind of mathematical truth, present in nearly every facet of life.


Duncan Watts from the Lazarsfeld Center for Social Sciences at Columbia University and Steven Strogatz at Cornell University have studied the “small-world network” and discovered that the key to its dynamic may be the fact that it’s a little bit regular and a little bit random.


Watts points out how all kinds of systems in the real world depend on networks and offers a few examples: The brain is a network of neurons. The global economy is a network of national economies, which are networks of markets, which are networks of consumers and producers. Even spoken language is a network of grammar, speech patterns and words.


Most mathematical research in the past has focused on identifying networks that are either completely regular or completely random. But Watts and Strogatz argue that one of the most common patterns behind any given network lies somewhere in between.


In this week’s issue of Nature, they show that the small-world network is evident in the neural patterns of the nematode worm, within the electrical power grid of the Western United States, and, in its most popular form, in the Hollywood connections that link actor Kevin Bacon to any other on-screen actor.


Behind all three are networks of small, regular clusters — groups of neurons, clusters of power stations and collections of actors who have appeared in the same films together — linked by random connections.


“That’s the punch line, really,” Watts wrote in an e-mail interview. “Here are three completely different networks, ranging over three orders of magnitude in size and three completely distinct subject areas, and look! They have this feature in common.”


Take, for example, the Internet. Considered en masse, it appears as an endless expanse of electronic chaos where millions of people connect or cross paths in a seemingly random fashion as they surf. Zero in on any given connection, however, and the pattern behind it is revealed as both random and regular.


The Web is made up of small communities, regular networks of history buffs, frog-lovers and stamp-collectors, logging onto the same sites. But the links between these cliques of Web users are random: the high school history teacher who also holds a fascination for amphibians or the stamp-collector who likes reading up on Civil War history. They serve to link small clusters of communities that would otherwise remain unconnected.


Not only does the pattern connect random groups; it connects them with great speed.


Strogatz points to an incident last year when the transcript of a speech, reportedly delivered at MIT by author Kurt Vonnegut, circulated with lightening speed throughout the online community. Within a matter of days, millions had read the speech’s ironic beginning: “Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ‘97: Wear sunscreen,” and attributed it to the novelist. The real author, it turned out, was a columnist at The Chicago Tribune.


“Think about what was happening,” said Strogatz. “I know that the guy who sent it to me probably only sent it to about 20 other people. So each person was linked to only 20 to 30 other correspondents. And yet, very quickly, this thing spread through the whole Internet.”


Besides spreading rumors, the efficiency of the small-world network can serve more productive purposes. In the nematode worm’s neural network (the only nervous system scientists have fully mapped out), it provides an effective grid to transmit information between brain cell clusters. And in neighborhoods out West, it links up clusters of power stations.


Some believe the small-world pattern could also be introduced into new arenas to improve existing networks. James Collins, a professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University, has proposed introducing the network’s trademark random links into cellular phone systems.


“This could speed up traffic flow around the network without requiring setting up an entire new set of relay stations,” Collins explained.


In the field of epidemiology, the small-world model lends a more specific understanding of how a disease can spread throughout a community. Researchers have long identified groups of people called “super spreaders” who, in the framework of the small-world network, may represent the crucial random link component.


“We certainly know from our studies of sexually transmitted diseases that there are a small number of individuals who have large numbers of sexual contacts,” said Simon Levin, a professor of evolutionary biology and ecology at Princeton University. “They tend to connect systems and create small-world networks.”


Technology and epidemiology are only a couple of fields where the small-world model may apply. Strogatz and Watts hope their work might function a bit like the small-world network model by offering a random link — a common theory — behind future research in a wide range of fields.


“It’s not like this is the solution to some old problem,” Strogatz said. “It’s more like the start of a whole new set of questions.”




Are People the Problem? UNFPA’s annual world population report (011120)


By Austin Ruse & Douglas A. Sylva

(Austin Ruse is president & Douglas A. Sylva is director of research of Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a New York-based U.N. watchdog group.)


The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) gave the world a little glimpse of wedded bliss, U.N.-style, in the population report it released last week. The report describes how in Niger, “Many women now work alongside their husbands scooping salt from pits — something not possible a generation ago.” In the whole world, this seemed to be the only good news UNFPA could find (wait until they discover that salt mines have glass ceilings).


Leaving African women’s newfound right to backbreaking, perilous labor aside, UNPFA considers the rest of world in almost irreparable straits. UNFPA, which is in charge of U.N. programs for population control, asserts that as a result of uncontrolled population growth, billions of people are poor and hungry. They also fully expect just about every animal species to be skinned, gobbled, or stuffed into extinction by the great hordes of humanity. The report, entitled “Footprints and Milestones,” advances the increasingly discredited population-bomb theory everyone under 40 learned practically at their mother’s breast.


The problem with the UNFPA report, however, is that it is flatly contradicted by a more credible U.N. source — the Population Division, the official U.N. number crunchers. The differences between the two reports were so stark and so embarrassing that Population Division chief Joseph Chamie announced that UNFPA’s report amounted to little more than propaganda. “The relationship between population and the environment is very complex,” he said. “UNFPA is a fund; they have an agenda.”


UNFPA claims that population growth has led to intractable poverty, and that “poverty persists and, in many parts of the world, deepens.” The Population Division disagrees. “From 1900 to 2000, world population grew from 1.6 billion persons to 6.1 billion. However, while the world population increased close to 4 times, world real gross domestic output increased 20 to 40 times, allowing the world to not only sustain a four-fold population increase, but also to do so at vastly higher standards of living.” The Population Division adds that “…even many low-income countries have achieved substantial improvements in the quality and length of life.”


According to UNFPA, “In many countries population growth has raced ahead of food production,” and as a result “some 800 million people are chronically malnourished and 2 billion people lack food security.” The Population Division, by contrast, contends that “Over the period 1961-1998 world per capita food available for human consumption increased by 24%, and there is enough being produced for everyone on the planet to be adequately nourished.”


It’s highly enjoyable to watch U.N. bureaucrats publicly attack their colleagues’ credibility, and UNFPA is an awfully tasty target. But the disagreement also has profound implications. UNFPA hopes to use its new report as proof that “reproductive health” must be financed by the international community. And UNFPA has powerful allies on Capitol Hill.


U.S. funding for UNFPA may rise from last year’s level of $21.5 to at least $34 million. If the Democrats in the conference committee (which is now taking place) have their way, funding will go even higher, reaching $37.5 million. Because of governments like our own, UNFPA is backed up by loads of cash, which it uses to bribe developing countries into accepting the UNFPA population theory — and the programs that inevitably follow in its wake. The Population Division, by contrast, has no such cash, only facts.


But UNFPA’s credibility is slipping. Its connivance in Chinese population coercion is now an established fact. A number of UNFPA officials have been quoted as praising China’s one-child policy. “For all of the bad press, China has achieved the impossible,” said the UNFPA representative in Beijing. “The country has solved its population problem.” Human-rights activists in the U.S. and Peru have charged UNFPA with complicity in the coerced sterilization of native Peruvians. And new allegations surfaced three weeks ago when eyewitnesses told Representative Henry Hyde’s House International Affairs Committee that, despite UNFPA assurances to the contrary, forced abortions still occur in UNFPA-funded Chinese counties.


On the other hand, the Population Division began a drumbeat in 1997 to the effect that, far from facing a population explosion, the world risks a population implosion, and a demographic shift with truly catastrophic consequences. Indeed, in the past three years the Population Division has hosted two expert group meetings at U.N. headquarters where demographic experts from all over the world have agreed that the current downward fertility trajectory will bring about population decline, intergenerational financial warfare, and a pension and health system meltdown. They concluded that, without massive immigration, the developed world faces a future of economic crisis.


UNFPA is looking to use the threats of environmental degradation, poverty, sickness, etc., to advance the spread of its favorite things: contraception, sterilization, and abortion. UNFPA’s tired argument is that people are the problem, and so the fewer of them, the better. UNFPA is therefore ideologically unprepared to recognize the gravity of the real population problem — fertility decline in the developed world — let alone to address it. Since UNFPA guides the U.N. on population issues, we shouldn’t be surprised if the U.N. keeps handing out condoms even when the whole world has gone gray, and when there aren’t even enough women left to work the salt mines.


UNFPA is a $395 million-dollar agency that funds “family planning” programs around the world. Its chief clients are branches of the International Planned Parenthood Federation — the largest abortion-provider in the world — and such unsavory population controllers as the Chinese government. The only way to stop UNFPA is to dry up its funding. A small but necessary first step would be to ensure that UNFPA gets at most $21 million dollars of our money, rather than $37 million.




U.S. sees infant mortality down one-third from 1980 (980702)


ATLANTA, July 2 — The percentage of infants who die before their first birthday has declined by about one-third since 1980, federal health officials said Thursday.


The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said neonatal mortality, or deaths among infants less than 4 weeks of age, declined 43.2% among whites and 30.1% among blacks between 1980 and 1994.


CDC medical epidemiologist Dr. Cheryl Scott said neonatal deaths are often due to low birthweight, birth defects and infections related to the birthing process.


“As we improve technologically and in the delivery of health-care services, neonatal mortality continues to improve,” Scott said.


Postneonatal mortality, or deaths among infants from 4 weeks to 1 year of age, declined 29.8% from 4.1 per 1,000 live births in 1980 to 2.9 per 1,000 in 1994. The decline was 31.7% among white infants and 25.8% among blacks.


The CDC said postneonatal mortality declined 14.7% between 1990 and 1994, the latest year for which figures were available.


Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) was the leading cause of postneonatal mortality between 1980 and 1994, accounting for one-third of deaths in 1994.


“Although reductions were observed among all the major causes of postneonatal mortality, a rapid decline in SIDS mortality during this time period contributed substantially to the overall trend,” Scott said.


Birth defects were the second-leading cause of postneonatal death among white infants and the third-leading cause of death among blacks, the CDC said. More than half of those deaths were blamed on cardiovascular defects.


Infections were the second-leading cause of death among black infants and the third-leading cause among white babies.


Respiratory infections accounted for almost half of those deaths, researchers said.


“Many postneonatal deaths can be prevented through currently known interventions, such as placing the baby to sleep on its back, avoidance of infant exposure to cigarette smoke and educating the public about ways to reduce the risk of death from injuries and infection,” Scott said.


“Nearly half of postneonatal deaths are preventable,” she said.




Rapid growth in minority population transforms U.S. (Washington Times, 991010)


The minority share of the U.S. population has


more than doubled since 1950, and a new study says minorities will account for more than 90% of the nation’s population growth in the next half-century.


By 2050, non-Hispanic whites —who were an 87% majority in 1950 — will be only 53% of the U.S. population, according to the report from the Washington, D.C.-based Population Reference Bureau (PRB).


This huge population shift is changing American culture, according to authors Kelvin M. Pollard and William P. O’Hare.


“The 20th century has witnessed the transformation of the United States from a predominately white population rooted in Western culture to a society with a rich array of racial and ethnic minorities,” say the authors of “America’s Racial and Ethnic Minorities,” which PRB released on Oct. 6.


The rise of America’s minority population from 13% to 28% since 1950 is only a preview of an even greater transformation to come.


The U.S. population is projected to grow from its current 273 million to 394 million people by 2050 —and ethnic and racial minorities will comprise more than 90% of those 121 million additional Americans, according to a PRB analysis.


According to the report:


o       c Blacks are the largest U.S. minority, at nearly 33 million, or 12%; closely followed by Hispanics (30 million, 11%); Asians (10 million, 4%); and American Indians (2 million, less than 1%).


o       Growing numbers of Hispanics have contributed most to the increasing diversity of the U.S. population. While Hispanics were less than 3% of the population in 1950, they are projected to become the largest minority ethnic group by 2005, eclipsing blacks. By 2050, 24% of Americans will be Hispanic.


o       Asians (including Pacific islanders) are the fastest-growing minority group, having increased by 179% since 1980. By 2050, Asians will comprise 8% of the U.S. population.


o       Ethnic diversity varies greatly from state to state. More than half of America’s minority population lives in just five states: California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois. The least diverse states are Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and West Virginia, each of which has less than 5% minority populations.


o       Immigration has accounted for more than one-third of the growth of the minority population since 1980. Nearly three-quarters of all immigrants to the United States since 1980 came from Asia and Latin America, while an additional 4% came from Africa. Immigration accounted for about 40% of Hispanic population growth in the U.S. and more than 60% of the growth of the Asian population.


o       Higher fertility has been a major source of minority-population growth. Hispanics have the highest fertility rate of any U.S. minority group, with the average Hispanic woman giving birth to three children in her lifetime. The black fertility rate is 2.2 lifetime births per woman. Non-Hispanic whites have the lowest fertility rate of 1.8 —about 14% below the “replacement rate” of 2.1 needed to maintain stable population size.


o       Chiefly because of higher fertility rates, minorities are a larger share of U.S. youth, while non-Hispanic whites constitute the bulk of the nation’s elderly. About 35% of U.S. children under 18 are minorities, while 84% of those over 65 are non-Hispanic whites. By 2025, nearly 47% of American children will be black, Hispanic or Asian.


The higher fertility of Hispanics, said Mr. O’Hare, the report’s co-author, is partly due to “the more traditional family roles of men and women in many of the countries where Hispanic immigrants come from.


“In many traditional countries,” he said, “women see their primary role as one of having and raising children. In more developed societies like the United States, other options and opportunities are available to women.”


Mr. O’Hare said the growing U.S. minority population is the result of demographic patterns that cannot easily be changed.


“Even if immigration stopped tomorrow, the share of the minority population would [continue to] increase because of the higher fertility and younger age structure of minorities,” he said.




Chinese: English Canada’s second language (Ottawa Citizen, 991027)


French expected to be surpassed in 2001 census


The nationwide census of 2001 is expected to show that the Chinese family of languages has replaced French as the second-most common language spoken in homes outside Quebec, according to a new book.


Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Montreal Association for Canadian Studies and a lecturer at McGill University, predicts that with growth continuing to follow patterns set at the time of the 1996 Canadian census, the French language will be pushed into third spot in English Canada. The predictions are outlined in Mr. Jedwab’s new book Ethnic Identification and Heritage Languages in Canada.


In 1996, census results showed that the distance between French and Chinese was closing fast. (The census questionnaire does not distinguish between the Chinese languages Mandarin and Cantonese.)


English remained the most-used language, spoken at home by 86.3% of Canadians outside Quebec. French was the second-most-common language, with 2.9%, or 588,885 people, compared with 553,045 people who said they speak Chinese at home. The difference, just less than 36,000, will be erased by 2001, Mr. Jedwab concluded.


He expects that Chinese will overtake French in Ontario first, since the difference in the 1996 census amounted to just more than 13,000 French speakers. “In Ontario, which is the most multilingual and multi-ethnic province in the country, that particular group (Chinese speakers) will overtake the number of persons that speak French at home in 2001,” he said.


These statistics represent a general trend across the country, but regional fluctuations are strong. There are large Chinese communities in British Columbia and Ontario, while in provinces such as Manitoba and Saskatchewan, German or Cree may be more commonly spoken in the home than Chinese or French.


Twenty-five years ago, Italian was the leading home language in Canada after English and French, followed by German and Ukrainian, but Chinese has shown rapid growth since the 1980s due to increased immigration from Asia, particularly from Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China.


Between 1991 and 1996, the number of people who reported Chinese as their mother tongue increased 42% to 736,000 in the 1996 census.


Nearly 80% of the 1,039,000 immigrants who came into Canada between 1991 and 1996 reported speaking a non-official language in the 1996 Census. More than half of them were from Asia and the Middle East. Chinese was the mother tongue of almost a quarter of these recent immigrants while Arabic, Punjabi, Tagalog, Tamil and Persian mother tongues accounted for another one-fifth.


“This may be true, that Chinese has replaced French at home outside of Quebec, but to a certain point it is a nuanced perspective,” said University of Ottawa mathematics professor Charles Castonguay, who has published many papers on linguistic demographics in Canada. “We will really see in the year 2001 which language is number 2.”


He’s not convinced the number of people who speak Chinese as a mother tongue will surpass the number of French-speaking Canadians soon after the turn of the century because of fluctuations in immigration


“It is a question of timing,” said Mr. Castonguay. “It all has to do with the composition of recent immigration.” Were immigration patterns to change with fewer Chinese arriving in Canada, and more immigrants from elsewhere, then the situation would again change temporarily.


According to Mr. Jedwab, those who speak Chinese may have an advantage over the others: Chinese spoken at home in the community may not dissipate in the way that other languages have had a tendency to do, because “the degree of mixing in this community is not as high as in other communities.”


Retaining language may be strengthened in areas like Toronto where there are Chinese-language media outlets. Toronto has two daily newspapers, Sing Tao and Ming Pao, as well as Chinese-language radio stations and at least one Chinese-language television station.


This trend is reflected in Canada’s extremely diverse linguistic community. In the Northwest Territories, eight official languages are spoken, while across the whole of North America, Quebec has the highest number of allophones — people whose mother tongue is neither French nor English.


Quebec also has the highest level of multi-lingualism in Canada. There are more people who can speak four languages there than elsewhere in the country, so much so that “Quebec resembles Europe to a greater extent in terms of its multi-lingualism,” said Mr. Jedwab.


What Mr. Jedwab’s book shows is that the rest of Canada is changing demographically. “It is becoming increasingly multi-ethnic, and multiple identities are on the rise,” he said.


But he also points out that the numbers may change over time “because in reality one would presume that this community (the Chinese), which is not an official language community, will from one generation to the next, see the numbers begin to dissipate. But at the same time there is a continued immigration.”


Some demographers predict that increased immigration will contribute to an emerging multi-ethnic majority in many major cities. This developing trend — expected to be the largest demographic shift in the history of North America — will give way to new majority-minority population that will exist without a dominant racial or ethnic group.


Canadian census data from 1996 show that whites are already a minority in parts of Toronto and that Vancouver is well on its way to becoming a majority of minorities.


In Scarborough, visible minorities make up 52% of the population.


Mr. Jedwab says those people whose mother tongue is Chinese will be among the majority of those minority groups, but dismissed notions of demands for a third official language.


“I think Canada will have to strike a balance between a country that has to continue to promote diversity while it also desires a set of common values for the population,” he said.


But according to Mr. Castonguay, “It is too early to speculate on whether Chinese will ever become an official language of Canada. But if Quebec were ever to secede, then it may become more important, but as long as Quebec is there, it is clear that French is far more important.”




Canada’s fertility rate at record low (Ottawa Citizen, 020927)


Childbearing falls far below ‘replacement rate’; if trend continues, deaths will exceed births in 25 years


Canada’s fertility rate has hit a record low, according to the latest figures released by Statistics Canada.


A Canadian woman in her childbearing years will have an average of 1.49 children in her lifetime, according to 2000 figures released yesterday. That’s far lower than the “replacement rate” of 2.1 children for every woman. If fertility rates remain at these levels, deaths will exceed births in Canada within 25 years.


Meanwhile, there were fewer children born in 2000 than any other year since 1946.


The fertility rate has been falling for the past decade and won’t increase any time soon, said Leslie Geran, a senior analyst with Statistics Canada’s health division.


There are several factors behind dropping fertility, said Ms. Geran. Fewer teenage girls are having babies. In 1999, there were 18.9 births for every 1,000 teen girls between 15 and 19 years old. In 2000, that had dropped to a new low of 17.3 births for every 1,000 girls.


At the same time, a mother’s age when she has her first child has gone up. Almost a third of first-time mothers were in their 30s.


However, even though fertility rates went up for women over 35, it did not offset the decreases in fertility rates for younger women, said Ms. Geran.


The fertility rate is likely to stay low for up to a decade. “Baby boomer” women are leaving their childbearing years behind and a new generation of women will also put off having children, she said.


“Eventually, we will run out of baby boom women to have children,” said Ms. Geran. “It would depend on when the boom echo starts to have children. If they’re like the baby boomers and the baby busters and keep putting it off until they’re done their educations and got a job, it could be eight to 10 years before they start to have children.”


Already, the youngest boomers are 36 years old. They are followed by the smaller baby bust or generation X, born between 1966 and 1979. In terms of numbers alone, this group is a third smaller than the boomers.


The echo boomers, children of boomers born between 1980 and 1995, are now just starting to enter their 20s. But the broad trend has been for women to finish their education, marry later and look for financial security before they have children.


Hitting record low fertility rates demands some reflection on the part of both ordinary Canadians and policy-makers about how to better support families, said Bob Glossop of the Vanier Institute of the Family.


“We live in a culture where we delay major points of life transition — like finishing school,” he said. “That puts a restriction on the number of years in which women can bear children.”


He adds that policy changes in recent years such as dropping a universal family allowance and changing the tax system have made it more difficult for people to contemplate having children. Even though parental leave was extended to 12 months two years ago, very few working mothers take the full amount because they can’t afford to live on the benefits.


And he doesn’t see any shifts in policy that will change women’s minds about having more children sooner.


“I don’t see anything on the way that makes it easy for young women to go back to the pattern of 35 or 40 years ago,” said Mr. Glossop. “If we went back to a situation where women get married young and had children, the whole economy would grind to a halt pretty quickly.”


David Cork, author of The Pig and the Python and When the Pig Goes to Market, which explore how demographic trends will affect financial markets, said the figures come as no surprise.


“Fertility has been declining for some time. It’s just a lifestyle issue,” he said. “These things don’t suddenly happen. We knew it was inevitable.”


Canada’s fertility rates are in step with those in Western Europe. But they are at odds with those in the U.S., where some demographers predict the population will increase to 500 million by 2050.


A Statistics Canada report released this summer noted that Canadian and American women both intended to have the same number of children — an average of 2.2 children on both cases.


“But Canadian women just don’t seem to get around to doing it,” said Ms. Geran, who points out that studies have shown that Canadian women are more likely to chose more effective methods of birth control, and to have tubal ligations to prevent pregnancy.


In 1999, the Canadian fertility rate was 1.52 children per women compared to 2.08 children in the U.S.


Most of this difference can be attributed to a drop in the fertility rate of Canadian women in their 20s.


In the U.S., the fertility rate of women between the age of 20 and 24 is 75% higher than in Canada.


The U.S. fertility rate is also 15% higher for women 25 to 29.




Nuclear family: Canada’s newest minority (Ottawa Citizen, 021023)


Canadians appear wedded to relationships even though the institution of marriage continues to slip in popularity, according to the latest census numbers from Statistics Canada, which, for the first time, counted same-sex couples living together.


The agency released data yesterday on Canadian families and households that show the traditional family grouping of mom, pop and the two kids had been overtaken by 2001 by an aging population and a dramatic shift in living arrangements.


Same-sex, common-law partners were only a tiny slice of the shifting scene, accounting for 0.5% of all Canadian couples.


The data say households consisting of four or more people — what we once thought of as the typical family — had shrunk to one in four in 2001, as opposed to one in three two decades earlier.


This is despite the fact that more young adults — aged 20 to 29 — are living with their parents, about 41% in 2001 compared to 27.5% in 1981. The trend was traced to a tendency to put off marriage, the pursuit of higher education and difficulty finding jobs.


The stay-at-home rate was highest in Newfoundland at almost 51%, followed by Ontario at 47%.


Though marriage continued to be the No. 1 choice for most couples at 70% in 2001, down from 83% in 1981, the proportion of common-law families more than doubled from 5.6% to 14%. Common-law relationships were most prevalent in Quebec, running at about 30% of unions.


Same-sex couples accounted for three percent of all common-law couples in the country, the agency said.


However, analysts and activists cautioned the figure probably represents an “under reporting” of same-sex liaisons given the stigma still associated with homosexuality and a fear about how the data might be used if gay couples acknowledged their living arrangement.


Nevertheless the percentage of gay couples living together was close to the percentages recorded in New Zealand and the United States during their first counting of same-sex couples, giving analysts comfort the number is within the ballpark.


Of 11 million households surveyed, 34,200 couples said they were living in homosexual relationships, the bulk of them in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. Vancouver and the metropolitan area of Ottawa-Hull had the highest proportion of same-sex couples living together, about 0.9% of all couples.


The agency also found about 15% of lesbian couples had children living with them, compared with three percent for male couples.


Gay activists stressed the data provides an incomplete picture because it does not count gays living outside a long-term relationship, but they called it a good start. “It sends the message that we do represent a substantial body of the population whose needs cannot be ignored,” said John Fisher, executive director of the gay rights’ group EGALE.


Analysts said there is no reason to overreact to what the agency headlined as the continued decline of the “traditional” family.


Alan Mirabelli, executive director of the Vanier Institute of the Family in Ottawa, says the figures show a population that remains committed to relationships and family despite the gradual disappearance of the so-called traditional family since the 1960s.


“We’ve been watching this coming for quite some time. I see a portrait of a very dynamic and adaptive family process. People are designing and shaping their way of life to suit their economic circumstances and their aspirations.


“From that point of view people are still committed to relationships, they are still committed to relationships over a long term whether they are married or living common law.”


Mr. Mirabelli pointed to the statistics on “step-parents” as evidence Canadians don’t give up on relationships just because of one failed marriage. “It hasn’t tarnished their belief in making a commitment over time,” he said.


Canada had 503,100 step-families in 2001, representing almost 12% of all Canadian couples with children. That was up from 10% in 1995.


Derek Rogusky of Focus on the Family, a pro-family lobby group, also said he was satisfied the figures affirm the prime standing of marriage with Canadians even though he is concerned about the rise in single-parent and common-law families.


He also argued the percentage of same-sex couples is so small that it need not be a preoccupation of governments or society. “It raises the question as to why we’re spending a whole lot of time worrying about things like same sex marriages when really the issues we should be dealing with is just strengthening what the vast majority of Canadians are choosing, that is marriage and families.”


Statistics Canada reported the number of households climbed by 6.9% to 11.6 million in 2001 from 10.8 million in 1996. There were as many one-person households in the latest census as there were households with four or more persons.


The agency attributed the decline in household size to lower fertility rates, couples choosing to have fewer children, an increase in childless couples and increases in the number of seniors who are more likely to live alone.


There also has been a sharp increase in “empty-nesters,” couples who once were part of a traditional family but who no longer have children living at home. The agency also notes the dissolution of marriages and common-law unions also create smaller households.




Two-parent households are waning (National Post, 021023)


Down from 64% of families to 41% in three decades


The institution known as Canada’s traditional family — a married mother and father with children — is crumbling, according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada.


The census numbers released yesterday recorded one of the most significant drops in married couples with children in Canadian history.


Such couples represented 55% of all families in Canada in 1981, while today they account for just 41%. In 1971, they accounted for 64% of all Canadian households.


To arrive at the latest figures, Statistics Canada analyzed 36 kinds of families across the country, from married couples with three or more offspring to a single male parent with one child under six to childless lesbian partners.


“It’s not that people are throwing away the idea of family; it’s that they are changing the ways in which they form families,” said Bob Glossop of the Vanier Institute of the Family, a national agency that monitors family trends.


“There is a distinction here between family and marriage. Canadians are still partnering up. They are still making promises and commitments to each other. They are creating families.”


Married couples with or without children accounted for 70% of all families in Canada in 2001, also down significantly from 83% in 1981.


“There is now a more open and inclusive definition of family, one that acknowledges lone-parent families, blended families, married couples, common-law couples and increasingly same-sex couples and same-sex couples with children as families,” he added. “They are all tied together by commitments they have made over time with affection and love.


“The institution of marriage, which was once thought to be tied at the hip to the institution of family, is no longer.”


Derek Rogusky, vice-president of family policy for the B.C.-based Focus on the Family, said the traditional family is far from dead.


“There are some concerns obviously. The trend is that we are seeing a little bit more and more decline,” he said. “Still, the vast majority of Canadians continue to value traditional family life, that being marriage.


“Marriage is a very resilient institution. It’s very much alive and well. The sky is not falling on the family.”


He said there are a host of problems for the children of unmarried couples, from educational achievement to emotional and mental deficits, poverty and being a victim of crime.


The latest census data shows the size of Canadian households has dropped in the past two decades, as fewer people live in large households and more people live alone. Twenty years ago, families with four or more in the household accounted for one-third of all families; they now represent one in four.


In 2001, there were about as many one-person households as there were households with four or more people — about one in four of the country’s 11.5 million private households.


Couples who have no children are increasing, the data shows.


Also on the rise, and significantly, are the number of common-law couples in Canada. There are 1,158,410 common-law couples recorded in the 2001 census, representing 14% of all families, up from 5.6% in 1981.


Among Canada’s provinces and territories, Nunavut (31%), the Northwest Territories (26%) and Quebec (25%) have the highest proportion of common-law couples. Quebec accounts for 44% of the total number of common-law couples in Canada.


Roy Beyer, president of the Calgary-based Canada Family Action Coalition, said he was disappointed by the decline in marriage. “With the erosion of families, stable families, you see a corresponding rise in teenage suicide, teenage crime rates, teenage pregnancy rates.


“I think what you’re seeing with so many people living common-law is the mistaken notion that ‘Before I make this huge commitment to somebody, I just want to make sure this is going to work.’ It is a reflection of people who have been brought up where there has been a high divorce rate ... or the very poor examples they saw in their parents. There is also a certain cynicism of a younger generation who are waiting longer before they get married or have children.”


He said living together outside of marriage is “most definitely still a sin. The activity is still contrary to the Bible.”


Mr. Beyer said he believed there is “still a yearning in the hearts of most people toward a stable family to raise their children.


“I am optimistic we are going to see a turnaround. But there has to be a spiritual awakening ultimately to turn the trend.”


Marriage is most popular in Newfoundland and Labrador (75% of total families), Ontario (75%) and Prince Edward Island (74%).


As of May 15, 2001, Canada had 8,371,000 families, up from almost 7,838,000 in 1996.


Almost 16% of families were headed by just one parent.


Behind these shifts in living arrangements are a number of diverse factors, such as lower fertility rates, couples who are delaying having children or who have opted to be childless. In addition, life expectancy is increasing, with one result being that couples have more of their lives to spend together as “empty-nesters” after their children grow and leave home.


The 2001 census is the first to provide data on same-sex partnerships. About 34,200 same-sex common-law couples were counted in Canada, representing 0.5% of all couples in the country. Male couples outnumbered female couples.


About 81% of same-sex couples live in Canada’s 27 major metropolitan areas. Vancouver, Montreal and Victoria had the highest proportion of same-sex couples among all families.


Overall, Ontario had the largest number of gay and lesbian couples, at 12,505, while Newfoundland had the least, at 180 couples, all but 40 living in St. John’s.


“What we’re seeing is the recognition of the reality that there are many diverse families in Canadian society in which people choose to celebrate their love and relationships of importance,” said John Fisher, executive director of Equality for Gays & Lesbians Everywhere (EGALE), a political advocacy group for gays and lesbians. “It is clear from the census results that the choices Canadians make in terms of family units are changing.”


Among the other findings, more people aged 65 and over are living with a spouse, with adult children or alone, and fewer are living in health care institutions.


The census also revealed a growing trend among young adults to remain in their parents’ homes. About 41% of the 3.8 million young adults aged 20 to 29 lived with their parents in 2001, up from 27% in 1981.




25% of all households are made up of four or more people, down from 33% 20 years ago.


25.7% of Canadians live alone. More people are living together and not marrying. More people are not having children; more married couples are not having children.


33% of one-person households are made up of elderly people. Falling fertility rates mean fewer people have children to live with in their old age.


3% of common-law couples are same-sex. There are 34,200 gay couples in Canada.


81% of same-sex couples live in Canada’s 27 major metropolitan areas.


14% of all couples are common-law, up from 6% in 1996.


41% of twentysomethings live with their parents; 33% of men aged 30-34 live with their parents while 22% of women in that age bracket live at home.




Will Italy and rest of Europe depopulate itself to extinction? (Weekly Standard, 040430)


IN 1348, THE BLACK DEATH took the lives of 70,000 of this city’s 100,000 inhabitants. Siena, whose exquisite art still amazes, never again had a population that large. Today, it numbers just 56,000.


The Black Death was traced to infected rats aboard a merchant ship from the Crimea that stopped in Sicily. The diseases carried by those rats ravaged not only Italy but all of Europe. The loss of life ranged from 12% in a city or region to the 70% reported in Siena. “No one wept for the dead,” wrote a denizen of the devastated city, “because everyone expected death himself.”


Today, a visitor to Italy is struck by the fact that demographic destruction is occurring once again, though this time more slowly. There is no Black Death, no communicable disease that the destruction can be blamed on. But the fact is that Italy is depopulating itself, and it is doing so by human choice. Procreation, you could say, is suffering. Simply put, Italians are having very few babies—actually, too few for Italy to survive.


Italy now has the lowest birthrate (1.23 children per woman) in Europe and the second lowest in the world. If Italy’s “rate of reproduction continues,” London’s Sunday Telegraph recently noted, “Italians will slowly but surely die out.”


A similar demographic destruction is visiting other European countries, for most of them also have birthrates well below what is necessary to maintain current population levels (thought to be 2.1 children per woman). Consider that the population of Spain will decline from 40 million to 31.3 million by 2050 if the birthrate in that country persists unchanged.


It isn’t hard to see the immediate problems facing a Europe lacking sufficiently high birthrates. Most obviously, the lavish, cradle-to-grave welfare states found throughout the continent will want for new workers and the taxes they would pay—unless immigration soars. But immigration brings its own problems, not least (in a post-September 11 world) terrorism and the cells that support it.


Of course, welfare benefits could be cut. In Italy, for example, the retirement age would have to be raised from a mere 55. But trimming the welfare state requires political will, and it isn’t obvious that aging populations that clearly like living in the “present moment,” as one European history scholar told me, will acquiesce.


THEY MAY HAVE no other choice, especially if Europe is going to develop a military capability to defend itself (once the United States withdraws its troops). Europe has been able to enjoy “paradise,” in Robert Kagan’s keen analysis—a paradise made possible by the fact that its security has relied upon American power. Now, though, the time for assuming responsibility for a government’s most important task has arrived.


European governments hold out hope that their populations won’t wither but stabilize and even increase. Officials (tutored by economists) tend to regard a too low birthrate as a problem of supply that can be corrected as all such problems are—by offering behavioral incentives, meaning money.


Italy recently began offering 1,000 euros (roughly $1,200) to every woman who has a second child. That experiment will be closely watched. Meanwhile, working Italian women continue to complain about their husbands, who they say do too little work around the house. If the men helped out more, they say, they would have a second child.


MAYBE. But maybe, too, the low birthrates of Italy and Europe generally are symptomatic of a much deeper problem. That Europe is secular (and American religious, an unnerving fact in Europe) is undisputed. But the problem of a secular society, as the British historian Christopher Dawson long ago pointed out, is that it “has no end beyond its own satisfaction.” Such a society may have a harder time turning from its own pleasures to take on the responsibility of raising children.


“A baby,” Carl Sandburg once said, “is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” In secular Europe, God’s opinion may not be regarded as very important. A continent whose graying populations are wealthier and healthier than ever apparently prefers to do things other than perpetuate the human future.


Terry Eastland is publisher of The Weekly Standard. This column originally appeared in the Dallas Morning News.




Careers curtailing children (National Post, 040531)


New survey of Canadian professional women points to ‘revolution in fertility’


Anne Marie Owens


Canadian professional women are choosing not to have children, or severely limiting their number of offspring, because they do not believe they can have children and successful careers, according to new research that has significant implications for Canada’s future labour market and economic consumption patterns.


Almost a third of female professionals and managers had no children at all and almost as many had just one child, with the majority of those surveyed indicating they made a conscious decision on how many children to have and stating their career was a major factor in that decision.


The number of women surveyed who had more than two children was extremely low: None of the women under the age of 31 had more than two children, and only 17 of the nearly 100 under the age of 38 had more than two children.


The study, which is to be released today by researchers at Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business, provides one of the first insights into the behaviour and decision-making that is driving the international trend of declining fertility.


“This is a revolution in fertility,” says Linda Duxbury, one of Canada’s leading workplace experts and one of the authors of the study. “These professional women are making a conscious decision to limit family size because they know that organizations and government haven’t responded.... They used to have the kids and worry about the career later. Now, they’re worrying about the work first.”


The researchers say their findings have significant societal implications because they show the impending labour-force shortage stemming from this declining fertility is largely a result of a conscious rejection by working women of workplace practices and government policies that have made the top professional careers incompatible with family life.


“If there aren’t family-friendly policies in place, we can expect professional women to make decisions that will affect our economy and our workforce and our society as a whole,” warns Judith Madill, who is also a professor at the Sprott School of Business and co-author of the study.


Dr. Duxbury calls this “a global employment issue” because it impacts how Canada’s labour force will fare in a highly competitive global market, influences how future immigration policies may be drafted to compensate for the domestic fertility decline, and calls for a dramatic solution to pending pension plan problems tied to the drop in the birth rate.


Canada’s birth rate is currently 1.5 per couple, which puts it in line with other industrialized countries.


The rates in all such countries are well below the 2.1 birth rate typically touted as a population replacement level.


Dr. Madill, who is a marketing professor, says the market will also be significantly affected by these women’s decisions not to have children, because there will be much less of a need for the entire industry of baby- and child-related products that have sprung up in the past two decades.


“The people who are economically most able to support large families are having the smallest families, and for a reason,” Dr. Duxbury says.


Their study, Understanding the Dynamics Around the Decision to Have Children: The Case of Professional Women in Canada, stems from in-depth interviews conducted last year with 281 managerial and professional women between the ages of 25 and 55 across Canada.


An overwhelming majority of these women — 83% — said they had made a conscious decision to have or not to have children, and 84% said they purposely decided on the number of children to have.


Of the 281 professionals surveyed, 79, or 28%, had no children. Among those who had children, the majority — 54% — had either one or two children. Only 18% of all the managers surveyed had more than two children.


The majority of the women surveyed said their decision about having children had an impact on their careers: 79% of mothers felt having children affected their career, and 72% of women without children said not having children affected their career.


When asked what impact having a child had on their careers, 36% reported reduced opportunities for advancement, 26% said having children influenced them to work part-time, and about a quarter of the women said having children resulted in a move away from working long hours or overtime.


Among those women who did not have children, the impact of being childless was described as equally significant to their careers: 70% reported they were more able to work long hours or take overtime, 33% noted increased opportunities for advancement, and almost a quarter — 23% — said it resulted in increased freedom to travel or relocate for their jobs.


The professional women were also asked about the impact of Canada’s one-year maternity leave policy, which allows new parents to spend up to 12 months at home with their newborn but provides only minimal compensation for the time away from work.


More than half of the women cited financial reasons for returning to work when they did after having a baby. By comparison, just 21% indicated their reason for returning was influenced more by their attitude toward home and work, saying they were ready to go back and did not see themselves as stay-at-home mothers.


The researchers also found significant attitudinal differences between the older Baby Boomer professionals and those in the younger Generation X population: While older professionals were slightly more inclined to have children and sort out their career later, younger professionals were much more focused on sorting out work before having children.


“We’ve all heard about the declining fertility rates, but this shows us that people are delaying on purpose,” says Dr. Duxbury, who will be presenting the findings in Ottawa today at the Sprott Executive Forum called Changing Values, Changing Organizations.




Pensions need $160B to erase shortfalls: accountants (CBC, 040609)


TORONTO - Many of Canada’s defined-benefit pension plans are running deficits that need a $160-billion infusion to cover the total shortfall, the Certified Accountants General Association of Canada warned Wednesday.


In a study of 847 defined-benefit plans, 59% of them were in a deficit, according to a study released by the accountants.


The shortfalls could mean sharply reduced benefits for pensioners, the accounting group said. And it further warned that inadequately funded pension plans may go bankrupt.


A defined-benefit plan is supposed to guarantee a fixed payout. A defined-contribution plan relies on the market and does not guarantee a fixed payout.


The study estimates that Canadian firms would need to make special payments totalling $15 billion a year for five years to make up the deficits.


“The Canadian pension landscape is changing,” Anthony Ariganello, the president and CEO of CGA-Canada, said.


“Where previously, many large and well-established employers provided generous pension plans and employees fully expected to receive their benefits as a matter of course, we are now faced with a fluid and shifting environment,” he said.


The accountants’ study said that is unrealistic to expect that short-term stock market returns alone will make for the pension deficits.


The best estimate of future market returns for a balanced pension fund is approximately 6.5%, making it overly optimistic to look to investment returns to cover the shortfalls, the study said.




U.N.: Population Will Hit 9 Billion by 2300 (Foxnews, 041105)


UNITED NATIONS — Three hundred years from now, the world’s population will have stabilized at about 9 billion and we will look forward to living until age 95. In Japan, that bastion of longevity, people will be hanging around until they’re 106.


India, China and the United States will still be the most populous countries on the planet — if they still exist — and Africa’s share of the world’s population will double to 25%. The average woman will give birth to two children.


Those are just a few possibilities projected in a U.N. report released Thursday, which lowers long-term population estimates because of new thinking about fertility rates in the future.


The new report acknowledges that population projections are extremely iffy.


“What will population trends be like beyond 2050? No one really knows,” the report says. “Any demographic projections, if they go 100, 200 or 300 years into the future, are little more than guesses.”


But the report says the exercise is necessary to help mankind reflect on short-term trends and whether actions should be taken to change them. It uses the metaphor of a basketball coach who calls a time-out just five minutes into a game going badly to avoid an unfavorable outcome.


The projections reflect trends, common among many researchers including the U.S. Census Bureau, revising populations downward. Previous long-range U.N. estimates suggested that the population could hit 12 billion people.


Still, the global population will swell in the decades to come, when there will be 57 million more people every year from now to 2050, fueled by growth in less developed regions, the report projects.


That means the world’s population will grow by 47% to 8.9 billion by 2050, with the biggest spike in African nations. By 2300, a quarter of the world’s population will be African, the report projects.


Among the report’s other projections is that the average life expectancy will rise to about 95 years in 2300. In Japan, where even today people tend to live the longest, life expectancy will be 106. India will surpass China as the world’s most populous nation, but China and the United States will be two and three.


The median age will rise from 26 years to 50 years.


While the population of young people will generally stabilize, the world will see more people over 80. That means world population will grow slightly over time because life expectancy will always rise, though by smaller and smaller margins.


The authors of the report acknowledge that the slightest deviation from their model would result in huge changes. If fertility rates stabilize at 1.85, the population would shrink to 2.3 billion. If it went to 2.35, the population would balloon to 36.4 billion.


If fertility rates remained unchanged from the 2000 rate of 2.83, there would be 134 trillion [billion?] people in 2300, impossible to sustain.


The middle-of-the-road fertility rate projection also assumes that women around the world will have access to family planning including contraceptives and would no longer want many children as mortality rates fall.


“People can now have fewer children because children are not dying one out of five as used to happen with our grandparents,” said Thomas Buettner, one of the authors of the report. “The decline is a historical trend that is irreversible.”


It also projects that HIV will slow its spread by 2010 and a cure for HIV/AIDS will eventually be found, eliminating that downward pull on the population. In a somewhat understated conclusion, it briefly contemplates what could happen if some new, more virulent disease, arises.


“These projections also risk being upended by national crises, such as outbreaks of civil strife or new epidemics or environmental emergencies, which could produce short-run catastrophic mortality or large, unpredictable migrant movements,” the report says.




The Baby Boomers and Their Times (Christian Post, 051101)


“I hate the Baby Boomers. They’re the most self-centered, self-seeking, self-interested, self-absorbed, self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing generation in American history . . .” Those words represent the assessment of Paul Begala, a former advisor to President Bill Clinton, himself the first Baby Boomer president. Evidently, it takes one to know one—Begala is a boomer himself.


The Baby Boomers represent the largest generation in American history, and their full impact is yet to be fully realized. After all, the first Baby Boomer will turn sixty years of age in just a few weeks. In one sense, the generation is just hitting its stride.


The designation of the Baby Boomers is a statistical abstraction, of course. According to those who track population trends, the Baby Boomers were born between January 1, 1946 and December 31, 1964. As such, they represent a generation that reaches all the way back to the conclusion of World War II, and is just now entering generational maturity. Of course, some would argue that the boomers are redefining maturity.


The current edition of American Heritage magazine considers the “Boomer Century,” and offers an interesting analysis of the boomers and their age. In the cover story, writer Joshua Zeitz observes: “Raised in an era of unprecedented affluence and national omnipotence, but coming of age in a time that perceived more limited resources and diminished American power, the boomers have long been defined by a vain search for satisfaction. No matter how much they have, they can’t ever seem to get enough. This quest for satisfaction has at times led to nadirs of narcissism and greed. As a generation the boomers have always seemed to want it all: cheap energy, consumer plenty, low taxes, loads of government entitlements, ageless beauty, and an ever-rising standard of living. They inherited a nation flush with resources and will bequeath their children a country mired in debt.”


The beginning of the boomer generation is found at the conclusion of World War II. As the war came to a conclusion, the American government expected only a temporary upsurge in births. Nevertheless, when the GIs came home, they began making up for lost time, reversing a century-long trend towards smaller families. Nine months after V-J Day, an American child was born every eight seconds.


The baby boom was not limited to the United States, of course. As Zeitz notes, the population boom was also experienced by Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. A British observer traveling in the United States in 1958 observed that “every other young housewife I see is pregnant.” He wasn’t exaggerating.


In truth, the nation was taken by storm as the Baby Boomers filled the cribs, schools, and playgrounds of America.


Zeitz suggests three trends that produced the generation. First, couples in their thirties who had postponed marriage and children during the Great Depression started building families. “They crowded the field 10 years after they would normally have contributed their share of progeny to the national population,” Zeitz observes.


Second, the recently demobilized GIs came home to participate in a time of economic prosperity and “optimism born of conquering global fascism.” As Zeitz explains, “For these young victors, many still in their early twenties, it made little sense to put off marriage and family.” A third factor may also have contributed to this remarkable rise in the nation’s birth rate. Zeitz suggests that “the general euphoria that drove up the marriage and birth rates was soon complemented by Cold War-era anxieties over nuclear competition. In an uncertain world, the comforts of home and hearth could provide a salve against atomic angst, just as the stabilizing influence of marriage and parenthood offered a strategic advantage in the nation’s struggle against Communism.”

Other considerations also played a part. Columnist John Steele Gordon notes that the “Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944” (better known as the GI Bill of Rights) contributed to the rise of the baby boom. Interestingly, Gordon notes that the “underlying aim” of the GI Bill was to delay the entry of returning GIs into the workforce for as long as possible. After all, most economists were predicting a return of economic depression at the end of the war.


Of course, the reality was exactly the opposite. Instead, the post-war period became the longest sustained period of economic growth in American economic history. This period of prosperity allowed the Baby Boomers “to grow up nestled in the bosom of an economic prosperity such as the world had never seen.”


Writer Kevin Baker thinks that this prosperity may have taught the boomers all the wrong lessons. “The baby boomers started life in a society where a great material security provided the foundation for a series of daring cultural upheavals,” he notes. “In their maturity, they have used a dynamic culture to demolish that security. This is all they have in common, and ultimately they will be judged as all generations, and all individuals, are—by their ability to reach some synthesis between the idealistic dreams of their youth and the appetites of their maturity.”


Those appetites have been huge. Zeitz asserts that the “cornucopia” experienced by Baby Boomers as children was “translated into billions of dollars’ worth of hula-hoops, Davy Crockett raccoon-skin hats, Hopalong Cassidy six-shooters, bicycles and tricycles, Slinkys, Silly Putty, and skateboards (and, in California, the shining allure of Disneyland).”


The Baby Boomers were the first generation to grow up with television in almost every home. Between 1948 and 1952, the number of American households with television sets increased from 172,000 to 15.3 million. The Baby Boomers watched family dramas and sitcoms, westerns, and cartoons. They were pampered, entertained, and coddled.


The generation was also shaped by the influences on its parents. In 1946, Benjamin Spock published his best-selling book, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care. As Zeitz recounts, “His book instructed the parents of the baby-boom generation to go light on punishment and heavy on reason and persuasion, and bear in mind that their daughters’ and sons’ happiness was the paramount objective of child rearing. If Johnny steals someone’s toy, don’t hit him. Explain that stealing is wrong, and buy him the toy that he coveted. If Suzie misbehaves at the dinner table, don’t worry. Table manners are overrated.”


A 1961 study revealed that two-thirds of new mothers had read Spock’s book. “He made permissive or child-centered parenting mandatory for millions of new postwar middle-class families,” Zeitz observes. “By the mid-1950s his message was routinely echoed from the pages of Parents magazine and found confirmation in countless sociological studies.”


Accordingly, historian Richard Hofstadter was concerned that America was about to be taken over by the “overvalued child.” Zeitz offers context: “Hyperbole aside, millions of boomers did grow up in prosperous, nurturing homes in which the children formed the core of the family. Raised amid plenty, taught to value their needs and satisfy their wants, and imbued with a sense of national greatness and purpose, it would have been odd had they not entered young adulthood with at least some sense of entitlement.”


And so they did. The Baby Boomers have been engaged in a generation-long search for self-fulfillment. Furthermore, the permissiveness of their parents has been translated into a permissiveness of their own. As Zeitz observes, “Boomers are certainly more tolerant than their parents of looser personal mores. In 1983, 44% of them approved of cohabitation outside marriage, 29% supported legalizing marijuana, and 37% endorsed casual sex. Whereas only a quarter of Americans approved of premarital sex in the 1950s, by the 1970s that figure had climbed to three-quarters.”


Many of the older boomers were involved in the civil rights movement and in protests against the war in Vietnam. They would later extend that call for social transformation into other areas of life. “Enforcing a new liberalization of sex and romance, they insisted on everyone’s right to satisfaction and self-realization—not just married couples but also unmarried partners, no matter what their sexual orientation,” Zeitz explains.


Now, the Baby Boomer generation stands at the height of its political influence. As Zeitz reminds, the 2000 presidential election was the first race between two Baby Boomers. Commentators Neil Howe and William Strauss estimate that the boomers will represent a plurality in Congress until the year 2015.


Zeitz also understands that the boomers did not emerge out of a vacuum. Many of the social forces that produced the boomers, including a trend towards permissive parenting and a desire for mass prosperity, have deeper roots in our national culture. Nevertheless, the boomers may represent the most quintessentially American generation yet to have appeared.


“The boomers—a generation born into national wealth and power, raised on the promise of their limitless potential and self-worth, reared on television and advertising, enthralled by the wonders of modern science and medicine—are, for all their differences, a most potent emblem of the long American Century,” Zeitz concludes.


From a Christian worldview perspective, the boomers represent a significant missiological challenge. The earliest boomers were born in an extended era of cultural Christianity. Their children were born into a far more secularized culture. In their seemingly endless quest for self-fulfillment, many boomers have turned from one spiritual and psychological fad to another, seeking a path to self-fulfillment that avoids hard issues of truth and deep commitment.


The Baby Boomers gave rise to the Jesus Movement and came of age as everything from the pastors of megachurches to the leaders of activist movements. Their expectations continue to frame the American reality. Now, as the oldest boomers head toward retirement, they are about to redefine old age.


Generational analyses are, by their very nature, overly generalized. Nevertheless, a good look at the Baby Boomers serves to remind us all of the challenge we face in reaching a generation that was, in the main, perhaps overly coddled and pampered. The younger generations look back at the boomers with a sense of amazement and wonder. What are these people going to be like as grandparents?




R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.




Europe’s ‘baby bust’ signals major change (Washington Times, 051124)


By David R. Sands


In the cradle of Western civilization, the cradles are empty. From the Atlantic to the Urals, in good and bad economies, in Protestant and Catholic societies, the countries of Europe are witnessing an unprecedented decline in birthrates.


This “baby bust,” analysts warn, will affect economic growth, social-welfare programs, patterns of immigration and Europe’s ability to pull its weight diplomatically, culturally and militarily in the 21st century.


In 1900, according to U.N. estimates, one out of four human beings on the planet — 24.7% — lived in Europe. Today, the European population share is a little more than 10%. By 2025 — with the average woman in the European Union bearing just 1.48 children in her lifetime — the ratio of Europeans to everyone else is projected to be less than one in 14 — 7%.


The dearth of babies, coupled with longer life spans for today’s elderly, “have major implications for our prosperity, living standards and relations between the generations,” according to a “green paper” on demographic change issued by the European Commission earlier this year.


With fewer younger workers in Europe supporting more older pensioners, the immediate worry has been the fate of generous welfare and social protection systems across the continent.


But “the issues are much broader than older workers and pension reform,” said Vladimir Spidla, EU social affairs commissioner.


“This development will affect almost every aspect of our lives, for example the way businesses operate and work is being organized, our urban planning, the design of [apartments], public transport, voting behavior and the infrastructure of shopping possibilities in our cities.


“All age groups will be affected as people live longer and enjoy better health, the birthrate falls and our work force shrinks. It is time to act now,” he said.


Outside threat


One direct fallout from the demographic slump was on vivid display during the riots that rocked the suburbs of Paris and a string of French cities this month.


The rioters were overwhelmingly drawn from the ranks of young, unemployed sons of immigrant families from North and West Africa. As in countries across Europe, the largely Muslim immigrants were drawn to France to take low-end jobs that the native population could not or would not do.


With large-scale immigration from former colonies such as Algeria, France’s estimated 6 million Muslims represent 10% of the nation’s overall population.


Michael Vlahos, a former State Department analyst now with the Joint Warfare Analysis Department at Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory, argues that the “Arab boomer” generation now in its teens and early twenties will have an outsized impact on European society.


With native European populations not producing enough children to maintain current population levels, “the bow-wave of the Arab ‘boomer’ generation, buoyed by aggressive illegal immigration, could still push the proportion of Muslims in France, Italy and Spain up to a quarter or even a third of their population,” Mr. Vlahos wrote in a recent analysis.


In the coming 40-year period beginning in 2010, “even if Muslims in Roman Europe still only represent 20 to 25% of the total population, working adults may reach 40% or more,” he wrote. “That era — from 2010 to 2050 — could alter the nature of European civilization.”


The motives of the French rioters — economic, social, religious — remain a subject of hot dispute.


Few think that Islamic fanaticism triggered the riots. But the threat of al Qaeda attacks, such as those against rush-hour commuters in London and Madrid, continues to shadow France and other Western European nations.


In one well-known case, a disaffected Islamic terrorist cited the demographic imbalance in France as one source of his frustration.


Engineering student Kemal Daoudi, the son of Algerian immigrants to France who lived in the isolated Parisian suburbs cut off from mainstream French life, joined Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda and was arrested just after the September 11 attacks in 2001 for plotting to attack the U.S. Embassy in Paris.


He told French investigators that he first was motivated to join al Qaeda by the “abominable treatment” he and fellow immigrants received as “subcitizens good only to keep working to pay for the retirement of the ‘real’ French when the French age pyramid gets thin at the base.”


When in Rome


The first wave of Muslim immigrants to France had a birthrate three times that of the native French, a pattern replicated in other EU countries with heavy immigrant populations drawn from Africa and the Middle East.


“With current trends,” Bernard Lewis, a leading U.S. scholar of Islam, has said, “Europe will have Muslim majorities in the population by the end of the 21st century.”


But other analysts say demographic history suggests that “present trends” are unlikely to continue.


Birthrates in the Muslim world are already falling sharply as well. American Enterprise Institute scholar Ben Wattenberg, author of “Few,” a study of declining birthrates worldwide, said the average family size of immigrants in Europe quickly matches that of longtime natives.


The embrace of radical, even violent Islam by disaffected European Muslims is a danger, he said, “but it is not principally a problem of demographics.”


Asked whether Europe faced a Muslim “population bomb,” Mr. Wattenberg said, “The answer to that, in my judgment, is a flat ‘no.’?”


On the flip side, the idea that large-scale immigration will reverse Europe’s chronic fertility rate decline is also unlikely, said Demetrios Papademetriou, director of the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute and a leading authority of global population shifts.


“Immigration, as it is currently conceived, will not provide a solution [to white, Christian Europe’s declining birthrate] because the birthrates of permanent immigrants quickly drop to those comparable to natives,” he said.


Out with ‘Old’ — and ‘New’


Even putting aside the question of assimilating Europe’s immigrant communities, the population statistics for both “Old” and “New” Europe are sobering.


According to the European Commission Green Paper, population is already falling in the EU states of Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Of the six most populous EU states, only France and Britain are projected to see population increases by 2050. Italy, Spain and Germany all have fertility rates of less than 1.3 children per woman — compared with the classic “replacement rate” for a population of 2.1 children.


Despite generous social benefits and numerous pro-family policies (including baby “bounties”) in individual EU states, overall birthrates have been falling for three decades. Overall EU population, now at 458 million, is expected to peak in 2025 at about 470 million and then start declining.


The situation in Russia is even grimmer. By midcentury, demographic trends suggest that the population of the country could decline by a fifth.


Joseph Chamie, former director of the U.N. Population Division, noted that greater educational and employment opportunities for European women have contributed to a situation in which nearly one in five women in Finland, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands in her early 40s is childless.


“The decline of Europe’s population is being brought on voluntarily, the result of hundreds of millions of men and women choosing to have fewer children than is needed to ensure population replacement,” he wrote in a recent analysis for the Washington-based journal the Globalist.


Complicating the picture is the historical baggage that comes from past European efforts to boost birthrates.


France and Estonia have had limited success with “pro-natalism” programs, but an Italian proposal to pay a 1,000-euro baby bounty to couples who have more than one child raised unfortunate echoes of past racial purity measures proposed by Benito Mussolini’s Fascists.


French Employment Minister Gerard Larcher said last week that the government does not track ethnic and religious classifications in the national census because the country was “traumatized” by the experience of the World War II collaborationist Vichy government’s role in expelling French Jews to Nazi concentration camps.


On the same page


But the question of Europe’s declining population has moved in recent years beyond fringe political movements often linked to anti-immigration and even eugenicist groups.


The United Nations, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and even the CIA have published major studies on the economic and social consequences of Europe’s baby bust.


The CIA analysis generated headlines across the continent with apocalyptic warnings that Europe’s social safety structures face collapse in a little more than a decade if the demographic meltdown is not addressed.


“The current EU welfare state is unsustainable and the lack of economic revitalization could lead to the splintering or, at worst, disintegration of the EU, undermining its ambitions to play a heavyweight international role,” according to the forecast released in January.


Even Pope Benedict XVI has weighed in on the population drain in an August address, saying the decline in birthrates in Europe “has deprived some nations of the freshness, the energy, the future embodied in children.”


Demographers admit that they have failed to identify a single controlling factor that has produced plunging birthrates across the continent.


Sweden, renowned for its generous paternal benefits and employment supports, saw birthrates climb from 1.6 children per woman in the 1970s to the replacement rate of 2.1% a decade later. By 1989, combined maternity and paternity leave stood at a full year at 90% of the regular salary.


But economic hard times and welfare cutbacks in the 1990s left Sweden quickly reverting to the European norm. The Swedish birth rate fell to 1.5 children by 2000 and now stands at 1.66.


The numbers are just as stark a continent away in Catholic Spain: The Spanish birthrate fell from 2.86 children in 1970 to 2.21 in 1980 to 1.28 today — one of the 10 lowest birthrates in the world.


Economic uncertainty and a tight job market are considered factors, but the birthrate in the impoverished former East Germany is actually higher than the rate in the wealthier western part of the country.


A German survey released earlier this year found that 15% of women and 26% of men between 20 and 39 do not want to have children, up from 10% for women and 12% for men just a decade ago.


Reviewing the findings, the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle concluded, “The natural and somewhat obscure longing to have a child has little to do with state subsidies and labor market structures.”




Generations X and Y suffer boomer-angst (Washington Times, 051212)


CHICAGO — Abby Lovett’s friends would die laughing if they heard her.


Here she is in her office at a Chicago advertising agency, the place she spends many a night and weekend, loudly proclaiming that people in her generation need to work less than their baby-boomer parents have.


Sure, she’s putting in more than 50 hours a week to establish her career. But in her heart, Miss Lovett knows she’ll end up miserable if she doesn’t eventually find a little balance.


To her and many other young adults, “having it all” quickly is becoming a myth, not the mantra it was for boomers who left behind their protest signs and tie-dye to climb the corporate ladder.


“No one is happy. Everyone is overworked, overstressed. No one’s spending the kind of time that they want with their kids or their spouses or partners. And I think part of that can be attributed to the boomers,” says Miss Lovett, 27.


You could call it “boomer backlash,” or just high anxiety. But as the first of the baby boomers turn 60 next year, it’s one of many ways that young adults are feeling conflicted about their graying elders.


They both love boomers and love to hate them. They see a talented, successful and outspoken generation that also can be hopelessly dismissive and self-absorbed.


They are awed and sometimes intimidated by baby boomers’ accomplishments and a generation so larger than life that some of its most famous members are known by only one name — Madonna, Oprah, Bono — or nicknames such as “W” and “The Donald.”


But at times, they also see boomers as hypocrites who were challenged to “ask what you can do for your country” and ended up focusing on what was in it for them.


“There’s a disconnect between the younger generation and anyone over 45 or so,” says Steve Rubens, a 29-year-old businessman from Palo Alto, Calif. “Something happened; I don’t know when.


“But they don’t really listen as much as they think they do. They just go with their agenda.”


It’s an agenda that leaves him and other young adults — members of generations known as X and Y — wondering what will be left for them, especially as the cost of living rises, national debt increases and as the huge population of aging boomers begins to devour Social Security and company pensions.


“A lot of people are disappointed with big corporate America and just how ineffective it is and the fact that the decision-makers — a lot of them are baby boomers who can’t even get you a raise that’s going to match inflation these days,” says Geoff Persell, a 26-year-old construction manager in Tampa, Fla.


He and others his age are ready to revamp the system, to create a new workplace that embraces both flexible hours and new technology — improving efficiency and giving workers more time for life off the job.


That restlessness isn’t limited to the corporate world.


Young adults also are ready to wrestle away their pieces of the pie from boomer politicians, from “helicopter parents” who hover over their adult children and even from aging rockers who have yet to give up the stage.


The question is: Will boomers let them?


“I feel like that whole generation is coming into that space where you’d think that they would be getting ready to give up. But it doesn’t feel that way at all,” says Marcos Najera, a 33-year-old former teacher in Phoenix who now works as station manager and host for the city’s youth and education cable-television network.


He wishes more boomers were willing to be mentors — to collaborate and inspire a group of young adults that he worries have become apathetic, partly because they feel powerless.


“They have no idea that they’ve left us in their dust,” Mr. Najera says. “So, we’re either going to have to run and catch up and poke them on the shoulder and say, ‘Hey, you guys, don’t forget us,’ or it’s not going to happen.”


Some young adults admire the young boomers’ daring — but wonder what happened to it.


“Now it’s like ‘Women shouldn’t have the right to choose’ and ‘Gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry.’ Where did all that freedom of individuality and freedom of expression go? Now that they’re older, we can’t have that?” asks Elizabeth King, a 26-year-old graduate student at Northwestern University.


Many young adults talk about feeling the pressure to achieve and wish boomers would lighten up.


“I think baby boomers have this fear that if we don’t take the traditional steps, we’re going to mess up,” says Jessica Coen, the 25-year-old co-editor of, a press and pop-culture blog based in Manhattan.


Miss Coen is among young adults who also want to forge a new take on family life — and how material success fits into it.


“Obviously, I someday want to raise a family and do those traditionally important things,” she says. “But also I don’t have some image in my head that it’s going to be this perfect, green, mowed lawn — because that doesn’t work. And we’ve seen that it doesn’t work. You can have it all on the outside, but that doesn’t mean your family is going to be healthy or happy.”


For her part, Miss Lovett competed in a triathlon last summer and has taken up oil painting — steps aimed at achieving that balance for which she’s looking.


It’s something she learned, in part, by watching her boomer father, who worked 14-hour days much of his life only to collapse from a stroke in a boardroom at 50.


He survived. “But suddenly, it turned our lives upside down,” says Miss Lovett, whose parents still live in Denver, where she was raised. “Sure, they moved into a smaller house, and they’re probably not having the same middle adulthood that they thought they would.


“But they’re together, and they’re alive, and they’re now enjoying the things that are the essential life qualities.”


Miss Lovett, too, plans to put a new spin on the notion of having it all.


“It’s a different sort of investment,” she says. “It may cost me a lot of money. But ultimately, when I’m 80 years old, hopefully, I’ll have some kids coming to play shuffleboard with me, you know?”




Sayonara (National Review Online, 060227)


Mark Steyn


Here is Theodore Faron, fellow of Merton College, Oxford, writing in the year 2021:


“Like a lecherous stud suddenly stricken with impotence, we are humiliated at the very heart of our faith in ourselves. For all our knowledge, our intelligence, our power, we can no longer do what the animals do without thought.”


That’s from the first chapter of P. D. James’s novel The Children of Men. On the shelves at Borders, Baroness James is the Agatha Christie de nos jours, but she has other strings to her bow and her dystopian vision of a world in which the human race is unable to breed is a marvelous read, if not quite true to life: In The Children of Men, man is physically impotent; out here in the real world, it would be accurate to say we’re psychosomatically barren — at least in the non-red-state parts of the developed world.


I’ve been a big demography bore for a while now and it affords some melancholy satisfaction to see the other fellows catching up, at least apropos Europe. The literal facts of life are what underpins, for example, the Danish cartoon war — the belated realization among Continentals that they’re elderly and fading and that their Muslim populations are young and surging, and in all these clashes the latter are putting down markers for the way things will be the day after tomorrow, like the new owners who have the kitchen remodeled before moving in.


Pre-9/11, I never paid much attention to demography. A decade ago, I accepted the experts’ standard line that the Japanese economy had tanked because the joint was riddled with protectionism and cronyism. But so what? You could have said the same 30 years ago, when the place was booming, or 15 years ago, when we were bombarded with all those TV commercials warning that the yellow peril was annexing America. The only real structural difference between Japan then and Japan now is that the yellow peril got a lot wrinklier: 14% of its population is under 15, as opposed to 21% in the United States, just under 30% in Iran, and 40% in Pakistan. What happened in the 1990s was what Yamada Masahiro of Gakugei University calls the first “low-birth-rate recession.”


Nippon is the most geriatric jurisdiction on the planet, and the rising sun has now passed into the next phase of its long sunset: net population loss. Last year was the first since records began with more deaths than births. The world’s other elderly societies have complicating factors: In Europe, the successor population is already in place — Islam — and the only question is how bloody the transfer of real estate will be. But Japan offers the chance to observe the demographic death spiral in its purest form. It’s a country with no immigration, no significant minorities, and no desire for any: just Japs, aging and dwindling.


So what will happen? There are two possible scenarios: Whatever their feelings on immigration, a country with great infrastructure won’t stay empty for long, any more than a state-of-the-art factory that goes belly up stays empty for long. At some point, someone else will move into Japan’s plant.


And the alternative? Well, a year ago, the country’s toymakers, with fewer and fewer children to serve, began marketing a new doll called Yumel — a baby boy with a range of 1,200 phrases designed to serve as a companion for elderly Japanese. He says not just the usual things — “I wuv you” — but also asks the questions your grandchildren would ask if you had any: “Why do elephants have long noses?” Yumel joins his friend, the Snuggling Ifbot, a toy designed to have the conversation of a five-year-old child, which its makers, with the usual Japanese efficiency, have determined is just enough chit-chat to prevent the old folks from going senile. P. D. James foresaw a similar development: toys for women whose maternal instinct has gone unfulfilled. In The Children of Men, pretend mothers take their dolls for walks on the street or to the swings in the park.


It’s not hard to see where this is going. Will an ever smaller number of young people want to spend their active years looking after an ever greater number of old people? Or will it be simpler to put all that cutting-edge Japanese technology to good use and create a new subordinate worker class? As a popular beat combo predicted back in the Eighties:


Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto . . .

For doing the jobs that nobody wants to . . .


Remember who sang that? A band called Styx. And the need to avoid the old one-way ticket up the River Styx is what will prompt Japan to take a flier on Mr. Roboto and, eventually, the post-human future.


There is a third option. Unlike the Europeans, many of whom will flee their continent as Eutopia evolves into Eurabia, the Japanese are not facing ethnic strife and civil war. They could simply start breeding again. But will they? What’s easier for the governing class? Weaning a pampered population off the good life and re-teaching them the lost biological impulse or giving the Sony Corporation a license to become the Cloney Corporation?


Reporting the latest grim demographics, the Japan Times observed, almost en passant, “Japan joins Germany and Italy in the ranks of countries where a decline in population has already set in.”


Japan, Germany, and Italy, eh? If the Versailles Treaty was too hard on our enemies, the World War II settlement was kinder but lethal.




Officials: U.S. Deaths See Largest Drop in 60 Years (Foxnews, 060419)


ATLANTA  — In what appears to be an amazing success for American medicine, preliminary government figures released Wednesday showed that the annual number of deaths in the U.S. dropped by nearly 50,000 in 2004 — the biggest decline in nearly 70 years.


The 2% decrease, reported by the National Center for Health Statistics, came as a shock to many, because the U.S. is aging, growing in population and getting fatter. In fact, some experts said they suspect the numbers may not hold up when a final report is released later this year.


Nevertheless, center officials said the statistics, based on a review of about 90% of death records reported in all 50 states in 2004, were consistent across the country and were deemed solid enough to report.


The center said drops in the death rates for heart disease, cancer and stroke accounted for most of the decline.


“We were surprised by the sharpness of the decrease. It’s kind of historical,” said statistician Arialdi Minino, lead author of the report.


The government also said that U.S. life expectancy has inched up again to 77.9 years, a record high but still behind that of about two dozen other countries.


The preliminary number of U.S. deaths recorded for 2004 was 2,398,343. That represents a decline of 49,945 from the 2,448,288 recorded in 2003.


U.S. deaths ordinarily rise slightly each year. The last decline in annual deaths occurred in 1997, a modest drop of 445 deaths from 1996, Minino said.


The number of deaths has not dropped this steeply since 1938, when there were about 69,000 fewer than in 1937. A drop in 1944 came close — about 48,000 fewer deaths than the previous year. Health officials could not immediately say why the number of deaths fell so sharply in either of those years.


“These are preliminary data,” said Paul Terry, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Atlanta’s Emory University. “But if it holds up, it’s obviously very good news.”


To see such a giant drop after years of annual increases was a little hard to swallow for some.


“We will not make much of this until the final data come out,” said Elizabeth Ward, director of surveillance research for the American Cancer Society.


Overall, age-adjusted death rates fell to a record low of 801 deaths per 100,000 population in 2004, down from almost 833 deaths per 100,000 in 2003.


Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death, accounting for 27% of the nation’s deaths in 2004. Cancer was second, at about 23%, and strokes were third, at 6%.


The good news: The age-adjusted death rate for all three killers dropped. The heart disease rate declined more than 6%, the cancer rate about 3%, and the stroke rate about 6.5%.


Improvements in medical care, particularly in medications aimed at preventing heart disease, at least partly explain the improvements in the heart disease death rate, said Ken Thorpe, an Emory professor of health policy.


Also, the flu season for 2004 was milder than 2003, which helped explain the more than 7% drop in the influenza death rate, Minino noted.


The death rates for 11 of the 13 other leading causes of death also declined, with only Alzheimer’s disease (the No. 7 killer) and high blood pressure and kidney disease related to high blood pressure (No. 13) inching up.


Even officials at the National Center for Health Statistics were “really kind of concerned” when they first saw their own numbers, said Bob Anderson, the agency’s chief of mortality statistics. But the fact that decreases in the death rate were found nationwide gives them confidence that the findings are legitimate, and not the result of something like changes in data collection.


The government also reported that a baby born in 2004 could expect to live to nearly 78 — an increase of almost half a year from 2003. Women now have a life expectancy of 80.4, up from 80.1. Male life expectancy is 75.2, up from 74.8.


The life expectancy for whites — 78.3 — was up only slightly from the previous year. The increase for blacks was larger, with a rise from 72.7 to 73.3.


The government also reported that the infant mortality rate has dropped to 6.76 deaths per 1,000 births, down from 6.85 the year before. But a huge racial disparity persists. The rate for whites was 5.65 per 1,000 births, for blacks, 13.65.


Japan, Monaco and San Marino had the highest life expectancy, 82 years, in 2004, according to World Health Organization statistics. Australia, Iceland, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland have a life expectancy of 81. Canada, France, Israel, Norway, Spain and Britain are among the other countries with life expectancies above 78.




The Population Sink: Philip Longman and the decline of populations. (Weekly Standard, 060607)


PHILLIP LONGMAN is the most important man you’ve never heard of in Washington.


A senior fellow at the liberal New America Foundation, Longman specializes in demography. If you’re a romantic, demography is the science of love, writ large. If you’re a cynic, it is the sausage factory of civilization. Whatever your disposition, demography is, if not destiny, then a subject of paramount importance. In the long run, no weapon, no technology, no economic system is more powerful.


Longman has spent many years studying demographic trends, and the conclusions are unsettling. As he writes in his 2004 book, The Empty Cradle, birthrates in America and around the world are declining beneath sustainability; population growth is slowing and, unless the trends of the last 200 years change, will soon bring about population decline—and with it, potential shifts in global prosperity and power.


Forget domestic politics and international relations: Fertility is the thing. As Longman explains, it’s the grand unified theory of everything. As fertility rates decline, populations, then economies, then military power, then world influence, diminish.


This is a bit counterintuitive. As Longman notes, everywhere you look there are signs of overcrowding. More traffic, more housing sprawl, more strip centers, more kids applying to college. It looks as if the world is bursting at the seams.


There’s some truth to that. There are 6.5 billion people today, and that number is increasing every year. But according to demographic estimates, the world’s population will peak somewhere between 9 billion and 12 billion in the next 75 years—give or take—and after that will precipitously decline, while the average age of the population gets more and more advanced.


The key concept is that of fertility rates. The “replacement fertility rate,” which is to say the number of children the average woman needs to bear for a population to sustain itself, is 2.1.


Global fertility rates have been declining for a long time. Today, they’re half of what they were in 1972. Fifty-nine countries (accounting for 44% of world population) have fertility rates below replacement levels. The United Nations projects that by 2050, 75% of all countries will fall below replacement levels.


Let’s be clear: Even as fertility rates decline, absolute population size continues to increase because of demographic momentum. But as the fertility rate decreases, the rate of population increase slows—until you dip beneath the 2.1 line. Suddenly, the pool of potential new parents becomes too small to sustain the population. After about 30 years, the grandparents begin dying off.


“By then, the momentum of population growth is lost,” writes Longman, “or, more precisely, is working in the opposite direction with compounding force.”


You can already see this trend in the United States. We have the highest fertility rate in the industrialized world (2.09), but this mainly reflects the contribution of our immigrants, who reproduce at a higher rate than natives.


As Colgate economist Michael Haines has shown, American fertility rates have been falling steadily for 200 years. In 1800, the fertility rate among white Americans was 7.04; by 1998, it was 2.07. This decline was interrupted by only a single period of increase: the Baby Boom. In 1940, the fertility rate was 2.22; in 1950, it rose to 2.98; in 1960, it rose further still to 3.53. But by 1970, it fell back to 2.39 and has been headed south ever since.


The fertility rate for black Americans is in steeper decline. In 1850, it was 7.90. Blacks, too, experienced a Baby Boom between 1940 and 1960, but by 1998, their fertility rate was 2.17 and falling fast. Hispanics are the only American ethnic group significantly above the replacement level, because Latin American immigrants bring with them higher fertility rates. After a few years in the States, they begin regressing to the mean: Between 1990 and 2001, America’s Hispanic birthrate fell 10%.


Immigration might seem like a solution to our demographic woes, but that’s a mirage. As the U.N. report “Replacement Migration” explains, to keep the current ratio of workers to retirees in America, we’d need 10.8 million new immigrants every year until 2050, at which point the U.S. population would be 1.1 billion, 73% of whom would be immigrants arrived since 1995 and their descendants. As a sociological matter, that’s an untenable situation.


(It’s also unlikely. Manhattan Institute scholar Tamar Jacoby persuasively argues that falling fertility rates and rising median ages in Latin America will probably cause the source of immigration to dry up long before our need for bodies is satisfied.)


So what happens next? According to the U.S. Census, between 2005 and 2025, America’s over-65 population will increase by 72%, because as fertility decreases, the existing population gets older. By 2050, about 20% of Americans will be over 65; there will be 13 million more senior citizens than there will be children under 14.


An older, contracting population is a harbinger of dark times. In the modern welfare state, the cost of caring for the elderly is largely shifted to the government. Combine an increasing population of seniors with an increasingly expensive state pension and health-care system, and you have a portion of the budget that must grow ever larger. The options: slash benefits, overhaul the system, or raise taxes. As Longman explains: “Younger workers, finding that not only does the economy require them to have far higher levels of education than did their parents, but that they must also pay far higher payroll taxes, are less able to afford children, and so have fewer of them, causing a new cycle of population aging.”


In other words, the further the fertility rate falls, the greater the incentive for people to have fewer children.


Capitalism is, historically speaking, a relatively new contraption, but recent experience suggests that capitalism and falling populations don’t mix particularly well. Consider Japan and Europe. Japan’s fertility rate is 1.34, 17% of its population is over 65, and its economy is a shambles. By 2050, Japan will lose a seventh of its population, and the percentage of citizens over 65 will increase from 17% to 32%. Italy - never, and certainly not now, a model of smoothly running capitalism—will lose 13% of its population, while the proportion of those over 65 will double to 35%. In Russia, which is already losing 750,000 people a year, that future is now.


In the coming years, the United States will struggle to avoid this fate. Our declining fertility is, literally, a matter of life and death.


Jonathan V. Last is online editor of The Weekly Standard and a weekly op-ed contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer. This essay originally appeared in the May 21, 2006 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer.




Russia faces demographic disaster (BBC News, Moscow, 060607)


In his recent state of the nation address, President Vladimir Putin said the most urgent problem facing Russia is its demographic crisis.


The country’s population is declining by at least 700,000 people each year, leading to slow depopulation of the northern and eastern extremes of Russia, the emergence of hundreds of uninhabited “ghost villages” and an increasingly aged workforce.


Now, one of Russia’s leading sociologists has warned that the country’s population may halve by the middle of this century.


Official Russian forecasts, along with those from international organisations like the UN, predict a decline from 146 million to between 80 and 100 million by 2050.


But in an exclusive interview to the BBC, Viktor Perevedentsev, who has been studying Russia’s population since the 1960s, said he believed even these figures may be overly optimistic.


He said the decline was likely to accelerate and that the Russian leadership should accept the population had reached a “tipping point”, beyond which direct intervention would be ineffective.


Birth-rates in many developed, industrialised countries are stagnant or declining. But when this is combined with very low life-expectancy and an increasingly unhealthy population, Mr Perevedentsev agrees that the term “catastrophe” reflects reality. It is not a case of hyperbole from overly emotional Russian patriots, he says.


Angry debate


Mr Perevedentsev explained that people have the majority of children between certain definable ages. In Russia, this is generally earlier than in Western countries. But the percentage of potential parents of child-bearing age within the Russian population is itself so small that state-funded efforts, by definition, can bring only temporary results.


“The collapse of the Russian population, in my view, will not only continue, but it will actually accelerate.” Viktor Perevedentsev


Mr Perevedentsev points to how the Soviet government, at the beginning of the 1980s, undertook similar measures in response to concerns over falling birth-rates. They produced a mini “baby boom”, lasting just two or three years, before the long-term decline reasserted itself.


Even if all young Russian women could be persuaded to have several children, Mr Perevedentsev warns, the same is likely to happen again.


The seriousness of this problem has led to an urgent, polarised and often angry debate in Russia about ways to tackle the problem.


Many medical specialists berate the government’s apparent inaction over the country’s health crisis. It is estimated that a third of Russian men abuse alcohol, while smoking rates are among the highest in the world. New threats, such as the rapid spread of HIV/Aids, merely compound an already bad situation, they say.


Politicians on the nationalist wing of the political spectrum see the hand of the West, and of Russia’s “enemies” more widely, in the population decline.


Ethnic rise


One commentary recently published by the “Rodina” (Motherland) movement suggested those Russian sociologists making the gloomiest predictions were, themselves, in the pay of western organisations committed, literally, to destroying Russia.


Meanwhile, Russian economists warn of the long-term consequences for the country’s growth.


Some have suggested an official programme of controlled immigration, to encourage workers from the former Soviet republics and further afield to come to live and work in Russia. This is a controversial suggestion and appears to have been rejected at the very top.


In his recent state of the nation address, President Putin said “no sort of immigration will solve Russia’s demographic problem”.


At the same time, some officials and nationalist politicians have begun to utter a loaded term last used three decades ago by Soviet planners - “differentiated birth-rates”.




It reflects concern that while ethnic Russians fare so badly, there are other, predominantly Muslim, population groups that are experiencing very rapid growth.


Some of the peoples of the North Caucasus - especially Chechens, Ingush and Dagestanis - are rapidly growing in number. The last Soviet census (1989), showed 611 Chechens for every 100,000 population. The most recent Russian census (2002) showed that figure had increased to 937 - an increase of more than 50%.


Mr Perevedentsev dismisses the notion that Russia could become a majority Muslim nation, and says this is a spectre being deliberately whipped up by politicians with little understanding of demography.


He acknowledges that there are very high birth-rates among these population groups, but insists they merely reflect an earlier stage of development and will ultimately fall. In 50 years’ time, he says, Muslims will still be a small part of Russia’s overall population.




Demographic crisis looming for aging Canadian population (National Post, 060615)


OTTAWA - The federal government must reduce the amount of personal income tax Canadians pay in order to keep workers here and stave off a demographic crisis that could devastate the country’s economy, a newly released Senate report urges.


“The time to act is now, and actions must be implemented on a priority basis,” says a report from the Senate banking committee titled The Demographic Time Bomb.


There are not enough measures in place to deal with financial and employment implications of the increasingly aging population, the report says. Canadians who are 65 and older are expected to increase from 3.9 million in 2000 to about 7.8 million in 2026. The fastest growing segment of the aging population will be those over 80, according to the report, which says that age group will nearly double in size between 2000 and 2026.


“The aging of the baby boom generation, in conjunction with rising life expectancy, will mean that the number of seniors will grow more rapidly and that they will live longer,” says the report.


The birth rate in Canada is about 40% below the level needed to prevent long-term population loss and by 2031, one-quarter of the population will be 65 or older. Now, just 13% of Canadians are age 65 or older.


“Recent population projections indicate that Canada’s population will continue to grow in the foreseeable future, but the rate of growth will decline over time and may become negative,” the report says.


The report calls on the federal government to lead a national dialogue in order to figure out how Canada can best cope with the known and unknown consequences of the looming demographic shift.


“While it is not possible to reverse such demographic trends as the aging population, there are measures that could be implemented to mitigate or adapt to the impacts of demographic change,” says the report.


The Senate report outlines several recommendations it wants the federal government to adopt as ways to encourage Canadians to stay in the workforce longer to avoid a labour shortage and to provide incentives for people to save so they don’t drain the system.


One proposed change says Canadians should pay less personal income tax and the government should increase the thresholds at which rates are paid so that Canadians have incentive to work in Canada and remain living in the country.


The government should also change the Canadian Human Rights Act so that forcing people to retire would be considered discrimination, says the report.


Other proposed changes include allowing receipt of old age security to be deferred and increasing contribution limits to Registered Retirement Savings Plans to $27,000 by 2012.


The government should also work with provincial governments to ensure the health-care system is successful and that enough money is being spent on illness prevention.


Canada’s older generation has an obligation to ensure there are safeguards because “we do not want our younger and future generations to feel unfairly burdened by the actions that are taken today,” according to the report.




Germans Reap Extra Benefits for Having Babies (Christian Post, 070104)


BERLIN (AP) - When her water broke early on New Year’s Eve, Julia Gotschlich was mainly thinking about the imminent birth of her second child. But she couldn’t help worrying about family finances, too.


She and her husband stood to lose out on more than $13,200 if the baby arrived before midnight, when Germany’s generous new family benefits took effect — part of a government effort to raise one of the lowest birthrates in Europe.


Births in Germany dropped 4% in 2005 from the previous year, according to figures from the Federal Statistics Agency, to around 690,000. That’s the lowest since World War II and lagging even 1946, when 922,000 babies were born even as the country lay in ruins.


A recent government study forecast that Germany’s population will drop by as much as 16% by 2050, from the current 82.4 million to as little as 69 million. That could hurt the economy by sapping the work force — and undermine the state pension system.


Facing such an alarming demographic trend, the German government has shaken up its financial assistance to parents in a bid to make it easier for working women to have children.


The new “Elterngeld” — or “parent money” — program allows an adult who stops work after a child is born to continue to claim two-thirds of their net wage, up to a maximum $2,375 per month. Low earners can claim 100% compensation for lost wages.


One parent can claim for up to 12 months; if both parents take a turn, they can claim the benefit for a total of 14 months — a tweak designed to encourage more fathers to help.


Germany previously paid a flat $400 a month in benefits to needy parents for up to two years. The change is expected to raise the annual outlay in direct payments for parents with infants by about $1.2 billion per year to $5 billion.


Other countries have instituted similar incentive programs to boost birthrates. France and Sweden both pay child subsidies roughly equivalent to those in Germany — but also have an extensive network of low-cost childcare centers that take babies to preschool-aged children.


France offers additional help to some families who need in-home care. The Swedes give either moms or dads 80% of their salary for a total of 480 days in a parental leave.


While the French had 12.7 new babies per 1,000 residents in 2004 and the Swedes 11.2, Germany recorded only 8.5 new births — the lowest rate in Europe not counting Vatican City.


Britain introduced a so-called “baby bonds” scheme in 2004, giving a $490 voucher to every newborn to start a trust fund, while a new Russian law entitles families to a bonus of $9,600 following the birth of a second child and any subsequent children.


Gotschlich’s baby, Inka Angelina, held off just long enough to qualify for the new German law, emerging 63 minutes into 2007. That means mom will be able to finance a full year off from work as opposed to just eight weeks with her first child.


“At first, I thought: ‘Can’t you wait a little longer?’” Gotschlich said at Berlin’s Auguste-Viktoria Hospital.


As midnight approached, “the doctors and midwives were encouraging me that maybe we would make it into the new year after all, and we did,” she said, smiling at her daughter asleep in a bassinet at her side.


There had been media reports about German women taking magnesium tablets, which can prevent premature labor, or putting off planned Caesarean births to qualify for the new bonuses.


Klaus Grunert, a doctor at Auguste-Viktoria Hospital, said some women avoided things thought to help induce labor — from hot baths and massages to sex. But he said none asked doctors to delay births, which the doctors would have refused in any case.


Gotschlich and her husband, a software engineer, decided to have a second child two years ago — long before Chancellor Angela Merkel’s left-right coalition took power vowing to do more for families. Although Gotschlich said the family will still earn less than when both she and her husband worked, the new incentive plan will make life easier.


“We’ll have to see what kind of vacation we have this year,” she said. “We can still afford one, though the car and the washing machine had better not break down.”




Where Parents Favor Baby Boys to Girls, China to Have 15M More Men Than Women in 20 Years (Foxnews, 070112)


BEIJING —  China will have 30 million more men of marriageable age than women in less than 15 years as a gender imbalance resulting from the country’s tough one-child policy becomes more pronounced, state media reported Friday.


The tens of millions of men who will not be able to find a wife could also lead to social instability problems, the China Daily said in a front-page report.


China imposed strict population controls in the 1970s to limit growth of its huge population, but one side effect has been a jump in gender selection of babies. Traditional preferences for a son mean some women abort their baby if an early term sonogram shows it is a girl.


“Discrimination against the female sex remains the primary cause of China’s growing gender imbalance,” Liu Bohong, vice director of the women studies institute under the All-China Women’s Federation, was quoted as saying in a report from the State Population and Family Planning Commission.


Sex selective abortion is prohibited but the government says the practice remains widespread, especially in rural areas.


The report, carried in the newspaper, said China’s sex ratio for newborn babies in 2005 was 118 boys to 100 girls, a huge jump from 110:100 in 2000.


In some regions such as the southern provinces of Guangdong and Hainan, the ratio has ballooned to 130 boys to 100 girls, the newspaper said. The average for industrialized countries is between 104 and 107 boys for every 100 girls.


The report predicted that by 2020 the imbalance would mean men of marriageable age — especially those with low income or little education — would find it difficult to find wives, resulting in possible social problems.


The problem is not just a rural issue, with the newborn gender imbalance also widening in cities. In the first 11 months of 2006, there were 109 boys born in Beijing for every 100 girls.


China Daily said one way to solve the problem would be to create a proper social security system so rural couples would not feel they needed a son to depend on when they get old.


Up to 800 million of China’s 1.3 billion people live in the countryside.




51% of Women Are Now Living Without Spouse (New York Times, 070116)


[KH: Liberal newspaper tries to encourage non-family living arrangements! Note, “women” means females aged 15+.]


For what experts say is probably the first time, more American women are living without a husband than with one, according to a New York Times analysis of census results.


More American women are living without a husband than with one. How do you think this trend will shape social and workplace policies?


Coupled with the fact that in 2005 married couples became a minority of all American households for the first time, the trend could ultimately shape social and workplace policies, including the ways government and employers distribute benefits.


Several factors are driving the statistical shift. At one end of the age spectrum, women are marrying later or living with unmarried partners more often and for longer periods. At the other end, women are living longer as widows and, after a divorce, are more likely than men to delay remarriage, sometimes delighting in their newfound freedom.


In addition, marriage rates among black women remain low. Only about 30% of black women are living with a spouse, according to the Census Bureau, compared with about 49% of Hispanic women, 55% of non-Hispanic white women and more than 60% of Asian women.


In a relatively small number of cases, the living arrangement is temporary, because the husbands are working out of town, are in the military or are institutionalized. But while most women eventually marry, the larger trend is unmistakable.


“This is yet another of the inexorable signs that there is no going back to a world where we can assume that marriage is the main institution that organizes people’s lives,” said Prof. Stephanie Coontz, director of public education for the Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit research group. “Most of these women will marry, or have married. But on average, Americans now spend half their adult lives outside marriage.”


Professor Coontz said this was probably unprecedented with the possible exception of major wartime mobilizations and when black couples were separated during slavery.


William H. Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, a research group in Washington, described the shift as “a clear tipping point, reflecting the culmination of post-1960 trends associated with greater independence and more flexible lifestyles for women.”


“For better or worse, women are less dependent on men or the institution of marriage,” Dr. Frey said. “Younger women understand this better, and are preparing to live longer parts of their lives alone or with nonmarried partners. For many older boomer and senior women, the institution of marriage did not hold the promise they might have hoped for, growing up in an ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ era.”


Emily Zuzik, a 32-year-old musician and model who lives in the East Village of Manhattan, said she was not surprised by the trend.


“A lot of my friends are divorced or single or living alone,” Ms. Zuzik said. “I know a lot of people in their 30s who have roommates.”


Ms. Zuzik has lived with a boyfriend twice, once in California where the couple registered as domestic partners to qualify for his health insurance plan. “I don’t plan to live with anyone else again until I am married,” she said, “and I may opt to keep a place of my own even then.”


Linda Barth, a 56-year-old magazine editor in Houston who has never married, said, “I used to divide my women friends into single friends and married friends. Now that doesn’t seem to be an issue.”


Sheila Jamison, who also lives in the East Village and works for a media company, is 45 and single. She says her family believes she would have had a better chance of finding a husband had she attended a historically black college instead of Duke.


“Considering all the weddings I attended in the ‘80s that have ended so very, very badly, I consider myself straight up lucky,” Ms. Jamison said. “I have not sworn off marriage, but if I do wed, it will be to have a companion with whom I can travel and play parlor games in my old age.”


Carol Crenshaw, 57, of Roswell, Ga., was divorced in 2005 after 33 years and says she is in no hurry to marry again.


“I’m in a place in my life where I’m comfortable,” said Ms. Crenshaw, who has two grown sons. “I can do what I want, when I want, with whom I want. I was a wife and a mother. I don’t feel like I need to do that again.”


Similarly, Shelley Fidler, 59, a public policy adviser at a law firm, has sworn off marriage. She moved from rural Virginia to the vibrant Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C., when her 30-year marriage ended.


“The benefits were completely unforeseen for me,” Ms. Fidler said, “the free time, the amount of time I get to spend with friends, the time I have alone, which I value tremendously, the flexibility in terms of work, travel and cultural events.”


Among the more than 117 million women over the age of 15, according to the marital status category in the Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey, 63 million are married. Of those, 3.1 million are legally separated and 2.4 million said their husbands were not living at home for one reason or another.


That brings the number of American women actually living with a spouse to 57.5 million, compared with the 59.9 million who are single or whose husbands were not living at home when the survey was taken in 2005.


Some of those situations, which the census identifies as “spouse absent” and “other,” are temporary, and, of course, even some people who describe themselves as separated eventually reunite with their spouses.


Over all, a larger share of men are married and living with their spouse — about 53% compared with 49% among women.


“Since women continue to outlive men, they have reached the nonmarital tipping point — more nonmarried than married,” Dr. Frey said. “This suggests that most girls growing up today can look forward to spending more of their lives outside of a traditional marriage.”


Pamela J. Smock, a researcher at the University of Michigan Population Studies Center, agreed, saying that “changing patterns of courtship, marriage, and that we are living longer lives all play a role.”


“Men also remarry more quickly than women after a divorce,” Ms. Smock added, “and both are increasingly likely to cohabit rather than remarry after a divorce.”


The proportion of married people, especially among younger age groups, has been declining for decades. Between 1950 and 2000, the share of women 15-to-24 who were married plummeted to 16%, from 42%. Among 25-to-34-year-olds, the proportion dropped to 58%, from 82%.


“Although we can help people ‘do’ marriage better, it is simply delusional to construct social policy or make personal life decisions on the basis that you can count on people spending most of their adult lives in marriage,” said Professor Coontz, the author of “Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage.”


Besse Gardner, 24, said she and her boyfriend met as college freshmen and started living together last April “for all the wrong reasons” — they found a great apartment on the beach in Los Angeles.


“We do not see living together as an end or even for the rest of our lives — it’s just fun right now,” Ms. Gardner said. “My roommate is someone I’d be thrilled to marry one day, but it just doesn’t make sense right now.”


Ms. Crenshaw said that some of the women in her support group for divorced women were miserable, but that she was surprised how happy she was to be single again.


“That’s not how I grew up,” she said. “That’s not how society thinks. It’s a marriage culture.”


Elissa B. Terris, 59, of Marietta, Ga., divorced in 2005 after being married for 34 years and raising a daughter, who is now an adult.


“A gentleman asked me to marry him and I said no,” she recalled. “I told him, ‘I’m just beginning to fly again, I’m just beginning to be me. Don’t take that away.’ “


“Marriage kind of aged me because there weren’t options,” Ms. Terris said. “There was only one way to go. Now I have choices. One night I slept on the other side of the bed, and I thought, I like this side.”


She said she was returning to college to get a master’s degree (her former husband “didn’t want me to do that because I was more educated than he was”), had taken photography classes and was auditioning for a play.


“Once you go through something you think will kill you and it doesn’t,” she said, “every day is like a present.”




‘I do,’ later on: Canadians tying the knot later (National Post, 070117)


The latest data released by Statistics Canada on Wednesday backed up a trend that has emerged over the last few years.


In 2003, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the average age of people getting married for the first time was 30.6 years for men and 28.5 years for women. (Those numbers exclude Ontario and do not count same-sex marriages.) Both numbers are up slightly from the previous year when the average ages were 30.4 and 28.3.


Compare that to 1973, when Canadian men were tying the knot at the age of 25.2 and women at the ripe young age of 22.8 years.


“This gradual rise in the average age at first marriage is largely due to couples cohabiting and delaying marriage,” Statistics Canada explains.


The agency’s report also provided data on the total number of Canadians who got married in 2003, and for the first time the data included information on same-sex marriages.


A total of 147, 391 couples exchanged vows in 2003, only 653 more than the previous year. The rate of marriages has slowed since a peak in 2000 when 157,395 got hitched, presumably choosing to marry at the start of the new millennium, the report said.


Yukon, Ontario and British Columbia saw gains in the number of marriages in 2003 and in all other provinces and territories there was a decline.


The crude marriage rate was highest in Prince Edward Island where it was six marriages for every 1,000 population and was lowest in Quebec with 2.8 marriages for every 1,000. In Nunavut, the rate was 2.3 per 1,000.


Statistics Canada said Quebec’s low marriage rate is due partly to the high number of common-law couples in that province.


In 2003, Ontario and British Columbia became the first two provinces to legalize same-sex marriage. But data is only available for B.C. because Ontario’s marriage registration forms do not allow for the type of marriage to be identified.


Of the 21, 981 marriages that took place in B.C. in 2003, 3.5% of them were between people of the same sex, the study determined.


During that year, Canada was the only country in the world that allowed same-sex marriages between people who were not Canadian residents. It’s not surprising then, that more than half of the people who entered a same-sex marriage in B.C. were not residents of Canada.


It was female couples that made up the majority of same-sex marriages in B.C. in 2003, Statistics Canada said. Of the 774 marriages, 54.5% were between women and a little more than one-quarter of the women had been previously married.


Are Canadians tying the knot more or less than other countries? Our crude marriage rate is 4.7 marriages per 1,000, lower than the United States where it’s 7.5, but it’s virtually the same as several European countries such as France, Austria and Germany.


Crude marriage rate per 1,000 population in 2003

Canada 4.7

Newfoundland and Labrador 5.5

Prince Edward Island 6.0

Nova Scotia 5.1

New Brunswick 5.0

Quebec 2.8

Ontario 5.2

Manitoba 4.9

Saskatchewan 5.0

Alberta 5.6

British Columbia 5.3

Yukon 5.2

Northwest Territories 3.3

Nunavut 2.3




Fed Chair Bernanke: Impending Baby Boomer Retirement Could ‘Seriously’ Weaken Economy (Foxnews, 070118)


WASHINGTON —  Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned Congress Thursday that the economy could be gravely hurt if Social Security and Medicare aren’t revamped and urged lawmakers to tackle the nation’s thorny fiscal issues sooner rather than later.


“If early and meaningful action is not taken, the U.S. economy could be seriously weakened,” Bernanke said in testimony to the Senate Budget Committee.


It marked the Fed chief’s most forceful warning to date on the potential problems facing the United States with the looming retirement of 78 million baby boomers, the oldest of whom will start retiring next year.


This huge wave of retirees will hit the U.S. budget as well as the economy, he said.


“The longer we wait, the more severe, the more draconian, the more difficult the objectives are going to be. I think the right time to start was about 10 years ago,” he told lawmakers when questioned about the urgency of the situation.


Absent policy changes by Congress and the White House, rising budget deficits are likely in the years ahead to increase the amount of federal debt outstanding to unprecedented levels, Bernanke said.


That could propel interest rates for consumers and businesses upward, which would be a worrisome development, he said.


“Thus a vicious cycle may develop in which large deficits lead to rapid growth in debt and interest payments, which in turn adds to subsequent deficits,” he said. Ultimately, a big expansion of the nation’s debt “would spark a fiscal crisis, which could be addressed only by very sharp spending cuts or tax increases or both,” Bernanke warned.


The budget deficit last year totaled $248 billion, a four-year low. Bernanke noted the improvement but likened it to a “calm before the storm.”


Spending on entitlement programs will begin to climb quickly during the next decade, he said. Federal spending for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will total about 15% of the gross domestic product by 2030, compared to roughly 8 1/2% of GDP in 2006, he said.


Forecasts call for the deficit to worsen for the 2007 budget year. The Congressional Budget Office is projecting $286 billion in red ink, while the White House is predicting an even bigger shortfall of $339 billion.


President Bush now wants to work with Congress to balance the budget by 2012. He’ll be out of office by then.


Bernanke said that economic growth alone is unlikely to solve the nation’s impending fiscal problems.


Fixing the problems, he said, will take persistence and a willingness by Congress and the White House to make difficult choices. It will be up to those policymakers to find the right balance between taxes and spending, he said.


The Fed chief steered away from offering specific solutions.


“In the end, the fundamental decision that Congress, the administration and the American people must confront is how large a share of the nation’s economic resources to devote to federal government programs, including transfer programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid,” he said.


Bush wants to work on the looming insolvency of the Social Security program. But his one-time plan to add private accounts to the system, once the centerpiece of his second-term agenda, withered in 2005 after meeting resistance from Democrats and Republicans alike. Bush has tapped Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to gather ideas on how to restructure the program.


In his testimony, Bernanke did not discuss the future course of interest rates. Many economists believe the Fed will hold rates steady when it meets Jan. 30-31. The central bank has left rates alone since August, when it paused a two-year rate-raising campaign to fend off inflation.


The economy has enjoyed a “pretty good run” in terms of economic growth and productivity gains, he observed.


The Fed’s goal is to slow the economy sufficiently to thwart inflation but not so much as to cripple economic activity. Some private analysts believe the economy is on track for such a safe landing.




Life Expectancy in U.S. Rises to Nearly 78 Years (Foxnews, 070912)


The life expectancy for Americans is nearly 78 years, the longest in U.S. history, according to new government figures from 2005 released Thursday.


U.S. life expectancy at birth inched up to 77.9 years from the previous record, 77.8, recorded for 2004. Only 10 years earlier, in 1995, life expectancy was 75.8, and in 1955 it was 69.6.


The improvement was led by a drop in deaths from heart disease and stroke — two of the nation’s leading killers, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, which released the new life expectancy report Wednesday.


“If death rates from certain leading causes of death continue to decline, we should continue to see improvements in life expectancy,” said Hsiang-Ching Kung, in a prepared statement. Kung is a survey statistician who co-authored the report.


The annual number of U.S. deaths rose from 2004 to 2005, after the figure had dropped by 50,000 from 2003 to 2004. In 2005, the number of deaths increased by about that same amount.


The report also described a slight increase in the infant mortality rate, from 6.8 per 1,000 live births in 2004 to 6.9 in 2005. But researchers said the increase was not statistically significant.


The report is based on about 99% of the death records reported in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for 2005.


A final report will be released later, and the numbers may change a little. Last year, when releasing its preliminary death data for 2004, the government reported a 77.9 life expectancy. That figure later dropped to 77.8 in the final report.


In the 2005 preliminary report, researchers counted 2,447,910 deaths, up about 2% from the 2,397,615 in 2004.


The 2004 count had been a 2% drop from 2003 — the biggest decline in nearly 70 years.


Researchers also noted continued differences by race and sex. Life expectancy for whites in 2005 was 78.3, the same as it was in 2004. Black life expectancy rose from 73.1 in 2004 to 73.2 in 2005, but it was still nearly five years lower than the white figure.


Life expectancy for women continues to be five years longer than for men, the report also found.


The age-adjusted death rate for heart disease dropped from 217 deaths per 100,000 in 2004 to about 210 in 2005, and actual deaths dropped from about 652,500 to about 649,000. The stroke rate dropped from 50 per 100,000 to about 46.5, and the number of stroke deaths dropped from about 150,000 to 143,500.


But the count of cancer deaths rose from about 554,000 to about 559,000, according to the report.


And there were 5% increases in the rates for Alzheimer’s disease, the No. 7 leading cause of death, and for Parkinson’s disease, which was No. 14.


The United States continues to lag behind at least 40 other nations in life expectancy. Andorra, a tiny country in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, has the longest life expectancy, at 83.5 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Japan, Macau, San Marino and Singapore ranked second, third, fourth and fifth.




Population Wars: Why Europe’s demography is more complicated than you may think. (Weekly Standard, 071001)


by Duncan Currie


IS EUROPE DOOMED? Many Americans seem to think so, and the chief reason is demography: European countries have had low fertility rates for decades, and now they face spiraling population decline. By 2050, the European Union’s share of the global population is projected to plummet below 10%. (It’s now just over 20%.) The overall EU population is expected to fall by several million. Depending on their politics, certain Americans may mention this with a vague air of triumphalism (if not outright glee), boasting that the United States has superior birth rates and thus will avoid Europe’s demographic dilemma.


Not so fast, says Oxford University professor David Coleman, a leading demography expert. “Demographically speaking,” he argues, “there really isn’t any such thing as ‘Europe.’” For example, while post-Communist Eastern Europe is plagued by the triple whammy of low birth rates, high death rates, and massive out-migration, the populations of Northwest Europe—including those of Scandinavia, Great Britain, Ireland, France, and Holland—are actually trending upward, at least until mid-century. American demography is “exceptional,” Coleman admits, “but not that exceptional.”


Speaking earlier this week at the Hudson Institute, he emphasized the variations among individual European countries. Some populations are clearly shrinking. In Russia, male life expectancy has fallen to the level of a Third World country. The Italian total fertility rate (TFR) is “chronically low.” While higher than Italy’s, Germany’s TFR is also well below the so-called “replacement level” of 2.1 children per woman. Even “very substantial immigration,” Coleman believes, won’t prevent the German population

from dropping significantly by 2050.


On the other hand, he says, a recent spike in immigration to Spain may actually be reversing its downward population trend. “Spain shows just how potent immigration can be,” and also reminds us that “projections can change.” Indeed, immigration is the “most powerful and unpredictable variable” in current and future demographic transformations. Over the next century, immigrants and foreign-born residents will account for an increasingly large percentage of the national population in many Northwest European countries. The same is true of America.


The big difference, of course, lies in the nature of immigration. Many Americans reckon that, because of culture and religion, it is inherently easier to assimilate Hispanic immigrants in the U.S. than it is to assimilate Muslim immigrants in Europe. That may or may not be true. But a prominent Washington journalist once told me that, while he considered himself pro-immigration, if the United States shared a 2,000-mile border with Algeria instead of Mexico, he’d make Pat Buchanan look like a wimp.


To be sure, not all of Northwest Europe’s newcomers are Muslims. Since the May 2004 EU expansion, hundreds of thousands of Eastern Europeans have flooded Britain to register as foreign workers. Large numbers of Poles, Lithuanians, and others are also pouring into Sweden and Ireland.


Evidence suggests that the longer immigrant groups with high fertility rates live in advanced Western democracies, the fewer children they tend to have. In Britain, for example, the birth rates among ethnic Pakistanis and Bangladeshis have been declining for years. Both groups still have a markedly higher TFR than native-born Britons, but the trend is unmistakable.


As for America’s “exceptional” demography, Coleman cites a number of factors—including geography, population density, culture, and religion—but also points out that the TFR of non-Hispanic whites is below 2.1. Thanks to the higher birth rates among Hispanics, America’s overall TFR is around replacement level. But just as demography varies among individual European countries and regions, it also varies among individual U.S. states (as many pundits observed following the 2004 election). The difference between America and Europe, then, “isn’t actually as great as it seems.”


Coleman stresses that demography is a perilous business: Projections often prove incorrect, and dependable metrics are tricky to come by. Immigration may be the “primary variable” in Western demographic change, as he indicates, but there is a closely related variable that must also be considered: the out-migration of native-born Europeans.


“We can’t take the native-born population for granted,” says Nicholas Eberstadt, a demographer at the American Enterprise Institute. In the year after an Islamist murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, tens of thousands of native-born Dutch emigrated abroad, mostly to Anglophone countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, or to other European countries. To put these numbers in perspective, remember that Holland’s population is less than 17 million. There is also a burgeoning trend of out-migration from Britain, and a similar pattern beginning to emerge in Germany.


“Demography isn’t everything,” says Coleman, who reckons that “market forces” and government policies can help overcome population hurdles. But he also believes the 21st century will see historic ethnic transformations in both Europe and the United States. In terms of assimilating migrants, Coleman touts America’s “national ego strength”—its patriotism, self-confidence, and assertiveness—as its “trump card.” Future decades may challenge that trump card as never before.




China: No Changes to One-Child Policy for 10 Years (Foxnews, 080310)


BEIJING  —  China will not consider changing its one-child policy for at least a decade for fear that a population surge could spark social and economic instability, the nation’s top family planning official said in an interview published Monday.


Zhang Weiqing of the State Population and Family Planning Commission told the official China Daily newspaper that the one-child rule should be maintained for now.


“Given such a large population base, there would be major fluctuations in population growth if we abandoned the one-child rule now,” he was quoted as saying. “It would cause serious problems and add extra pressure on social and economic development.”


Any change in the policy would be considered only after the end of the country’s next birth peak in 10 years, Zhang said. Over the next decade, nearly 200 million people are expected to enter childbearing years.


“After the new birth peak ends, we may adjust the policy if there is need,” he said in the front-page story.


The policy, launched during the late 1970s, has prevented an additional 400 million births. China’s population currently stands at 1.3 billion, growing 16 to 17 million annually.


The one-child limit actually applies to only a portion of the population. In general, urban couples are restricted to one while rural couples are allowed up to two if their first child is a girl. The country’s often disadvantaged ethnic minorities are also exempt from these rules.


Critics say the policy has led to forced abortions, sterilizations and an imbalanced gender ratio due to a traditional preference for male heirs.


Zhang’s remarks, made on the sidelines of the annual legislative session and published in several local newspapers, are clearly aimed at slapping down reports that the country was considering scrapping its one-child policy.


Officially, China’s stance on its family planning policy has not wavered. Last week Premier Wen Jiabao reiterated in his annual policy address to legislators that China will continue to “adhere to the current policy of family planning” in order to “keep the birthrate low.”


However, Beijing’s leaders have allowed more open discussion of the issue, particularly as the country continues its path of rapid economic and social change.


In recent weeks, several officials have suggested that an overhaul of the policy may be forthcoming since China has succeeded in slowing down its population growth.


Debate about potential changes has been fueled by concern over the growing burden of China’s aging population. According to government figures, those aged 60 or older expected to top 200 million by 2015 and 280 million by 2025.


Zhang stressed that the emerging problems should not be blamed solely on the one-child policy and “it will be simplistic” to focus on a single approach.


Getting rid of the one-child policy now would create more problems than it would solve, he said.


Lower fertility rates have been credited with helping raise living standards and increase the country’s economic growth.


But demographics experts worry China’s intense preoccupation with controlling its population growth has created unintended consequences as birth rates drop below normal.


Gu Baochang, professor of demographics at Renmin University, said part of the issue is that the government as well as the public regard population as a negative factor in a country’s development.


“Of course, the population is still growing so they still regard population as a threat to country’s future. But in fact, the growth rate is already negative,” he said.


China’s current average birth rate is at 1.8. children per couple, below the 2.1 rate needed for a population to replace itself.


Population officials have talked about the fear of triggering a population boom if the one-child policy were lifted, but government planners are failing to consider a low-fertility scenario, said Shanghai-based population economist Zuo Xuejin.


Zuo pointed to other Asian countries, including Japan, Korea and Singapore, where fertility rates have been steadily declining, and said he believes that China is heading in that direction as well.


“In addition to this general trend, we have a very restrictive fertility control policy,” he said. “It will become a problem in the future.”




Census Bureau Estimates U.S. Population Continues Shift to South, West (Foxnews, 080327)


DALLAS  —  Four Texas metropolitan areas were among the biggest population gainers as Americans continued their trend of moving to the Sun Belt in 2006 and 2007, according to Census Bureau estimates to be released Thursday.


Dallas-Fort Worth added more than 162,000 residents between July 2006 and July 2007, more than any other metro area. Three other Texas areas — Houston, Austin and San Antonio — also cracked the top 10.


Atlanta saw the second-largest population jump with just over 151,000 new residents. Phoenix was third with more than 132,000, and was followed by Houston, Riverside, Calif., Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, Austin, Las Vegas and San Antonio.


Of the 50 fastest-growing metro areas, 27 were in the South and 20 were in the West. Two were in the Midwest, one — Fayetteville, Ark. — straddles the South and Midwest and none was in the Northeast.


Detroit lost more than three times as many people as any other metro area — its population declined more than 27,300. Other areas losing more than 5,000 people were Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, Ga., Youngstown, Ohio, and Buffalo, N.Y.


Experts credit much of the growth in the South to relatively strong local economies and housing prices that are among the most affordable in the U.S.


“People are running away from unaffordable housing, from the economic slowdown,” said Karl Eschbach, a state demographer in Texas. “I would expect Texas to stay at the top of a slowing game.”


According to figures compiled by Eschbach, 16% of Americans who moved to other states between July 2006 and July 2007 came to Texas, which led the nation for the second straight year in that category.


Home prices continue to be a big factor. A report earlier this month by Global Insight found that housing prices in the Dallas area were undervalued by as much as 30%.


Ann Sekesan, a pharmacy technician, moved her family from Pennsylvania to suburban Fort Worth last June after seeing spacious homes in Texas for under $200,000 on a television show.


“After we saw that on TV, my husband and I looked at each other and said, ‘Have you ever been to Texas?” Sekesan said. “It’s amazing the size of a home you can get down here. It’s just incredible.”


Among other Census Bureau findings:


— On a percentage basis, the Palm Coast, Fla., area was the fastest-growing in the nation. Population there jumped by 7.2% to more than 536,000. The next areas experiencing the biggest surge in growth were St. George, Utah; Raleigh, N.C; Gainesville, Ga.; and Austin.


The New Orleans area, recovering from Hurricane Katrina, grew by 4% or nearly 40,000 people, putting it 16th in terms of raw numbers but eighth for percentage growth. During the same survey last year, the population of New Orleans dropped by nearly 290,000 people.




Demographic Winter (BreakPoint, 080609)


By Chuck Colson


Where Have All the Children Gone?


For nearly 1,000 years, the people of Latvia have maintained a distinct identity, despite being dominated by their neighbors. Nearly one-third of Latvia’s population was killed by the Nazis and the Soviets between 1940 and 1954. Yet Latvia survived.


But, today, Latvia’s existence is threatened; only now, the threat is home-grown.


Latvia’s population has shrunk from 2.7 million in 1989 to about 2.2 million today. Part of that, of course, is emigration. But most of the problem is the result of low birthrates: Between 1989 and 2003, the number of Latvians under the age of 18 declined by 29%.


The International Monetary Fund calls the “fall in the population . . . quite worrisome.” It threatens Latvia’s economic well-being, which, in turn, encourages more emigration.


But the threat is far more than economic. According to Inese Slesere, a member of the Latvian Parliament, low birthrates threaten “the very survival of the Latvian nation.”


The precipitous drop in birthrates, Slesere says, stems from a “radically individualistic philosophy” that diminishes “virtue, character, and respect for others” within society.


The result is what she calls a “culture of rejection and death,” where “divorce, abortions, cohabitation, single-parent households, and out-of-wedlock births” are commonplace.


This culture, hardly unique to Latvia, has resulted in what is called a “demographic winter.” That is also the name of a must-see documentary on the causes and effects of the “ongoing global decline in human birthrates.” Visit our website for information about the movie. As the word global suggests, the phenomenon is not limited to the industrialized West: At least 40 nations have below-replacement level birthrates.


According to Philip Longman, the author of The Empty Cradle, this decline is “the single most powerful force affecting the fate of nations and the future of society in the 21st century.”


This probably does come as a surprise to you. Because, for nearly 40 years, we have been told that there are too many people, and that many of the world’s problems are the result of overpopulation. “People are the enemy,” we are told by radical environmentalists.


But, while technology has provided solutions to the economic and environmental challenges of a growing population, there are no such fixes for declining ones. Technology cannot produce more Latvians if Latvians do not want to have more children.


Financial incentives do not work, either. The Russian government pays families a bonus equal to roughly twice the average annual wage for every child after the firstborn. Russia’s population is expected to be cut in half by the end of this century.


The problem—you see—is cultural, and the solution must be cultural. Government policies can encourage virtuous behavior, but the antidote to the “radical individualism” that created demographic winter lies elsewhere. The only real answer is Christianity and the worldview it produces.


For the next few days, I am going to tell you more about the challenges posed by the demographic winter. It is a grave threat to all of us, so stay tuned.


Human beings and the societies they create are resilient, but if we embrace “rejection and death,” then winter is what we can expect.




Demographics and Prosperity (BreakPoint, 080610)


By Chuck Colson


Demographic Winter and the Economy


If you follow the financial news, you have probably heard the phrase, “Stocks were up (or down) on news that . . .” The “news” that is referred to is always something having to do with some government economic report, or the market’s reaction to an interest-rate cut.


This makes sense—buying stocks is essentially betting on the future of the economy, and the best guide to that future is the actions of policymakers and financial markets. Correct?


Well, not necessarily. There is another—arguably more reliable—predictor of economic health: demographics.


Specifically, it is looking at the age of a population: the ratio of older people to younger people. That is one of the points explored in the brilliant documentary Demographic Winter. In it, a financial consultant tells a story about two charts on his desk. The first graphed the performance of the S&P 500 during the past few decades.


The second graphed the number of births during the “Baby Boom.” When he compared them, allowing for a 45- to 50-year lag representing people’s peak spending years, he found that the S&P’s performance and the number of births tracked almost perfectly. In other words, future prosperity is determined, to a significant degree, by the number of children being born today.


In hindsight, this ought to be obvious: Consumer spending drives the economy. The more people you have in their peak spending years, the more spending you have on everything from housing, to travel, and taxes paid. As a population ages, it spends less.


This is also true of the rest of the world. The most famous example is Japan, which did not experience a post-war baby boom. This, combined with the low Japanese birthrate, caused its population to age sooner than the rest of its competitors.


When the post-war Japanese economic “miracle” came to a sudden halt in the ‘80s, economic explanations abounded: bad loans, inflated real estate prices, government policies. No one mentioned the aging of the Japanese population. And that is still true today, even as the economy still staggers.


It is as if those experts are wearing glasses that will not let them see the connection between demographics and prosperity.


In fact, they are wearing such lenses—their worldviews. Thirty-plus years of “population bomb” rhetoric has caused most people to think that “overpopulation is one of the worst dangers facing the globe.” In fact, as Philip Longman, the author of The Empty Cradle, points out, “the opposite is true.”


As Longman notes in Demographic Winter, no society has both a shrinking population and a growing economy. The two are incompatible. Yet our culture denies the problem.


It could hardly do otherwise: As Demographic Winter documents, the “birth dearth” is largely the product of our values. Clearly, our society believes that individual self-satisfaction—measured in terms of material prosperity—is more important than the creation and welfare of future generations. The irony here is that our material prosperity depends on those future generations.


To solve the problem, we have got to ask ourselves, as I titled my book some years ago, “How now shall we live?” What is the biblical worldview? We need to see the world through new glasses—through God’s eyes.




A Day without Mexicans (BreakPoint, 080611)


By Chuck Colson


Demographics in the Developing World


A few years ago, a film called A Day without a Mexican took an amusing look at our dependence on Mexican labor.


While they disagree about everything else, both sides of the immigration debate share one assumption: There is a virtually endless supply of people from Mexico—and the rest of Latin America—who are ready to come here and work.


Well, this assumption may be wrong.


As the documentary Demographic Winter reports, Mexico is in the midst of an unprecedented decline in birth rates: In 1965, the average Mexican woman gave birth to seven children. Today, it is 2.1—the same as their American counterparts. It is estimated that, within the next several decades, Mexico’s population will be older than ours.


This is part of a worldwide trend. We usually associate low birth rates with the industrialized nations. But according to Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute, up to half of the world’s population lives in countries with below-replacement level fertility.


Thus, it is not only Japan; it is Korea, China, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka . . . And China’s low birthrate—government-ordered, by the way—and its rapidly aging population threaten to undo its newly achieved prosperity.


In other parts of the world, the threat may be graver. In 1980, Iran’s birth rate was 6.5 births per woman. Today, it is 1.7 births per woman—well below replacement level. As a result, Iran has one of the world’s most rapidly aging populations.


The Asia Times columnist “Spengler” has speculated that the Iranian “demographic catastrophe in the making” may tempt Iran to act aggressively “while it still has the manpower to do so.”


The decline of birth rates in the developing world has consequences for the West, as well. The West has compensated for its low birth rates through immigration, most of it from the developing world. But, as Demographic Winter points out, lower birth rates in these countries raise the prospect of fewer immigrants and, thus, a lower standard of living.


Ultimately, the documentary makes the reality of demographic winter, and its consequences, brutally clear.


It also makes it clear that the demographic decline it documents is not the result of some plague or other biological agent—it is the predictable product of our worldviews and values. Any society that devalues marriage, that encourages people to place career above family, that embraces abortion, will see its fertility rates plummet.


But, as Spengler and others have pointed out, the root of the problem is “the decline of religious faith.” Loss of faith in the world to come leaves us grasping for everything we can get in this one, even at the expense of future generations.


Not surprisingly, the exception to these demographic changes is among religious believers, who take seriously the command to be fruitful and multiply—who believe in the family and see children as a gift from God. Their belief in the world to come makes them fruitful in this one. And it makes it urgent to know and articulate our worldview to others while we can.




Europe sets date when deaths overtake births: 7 years (Paris, International Herald, 080826)


BRUSSELS: Since its historic reunification almost two decades ago, Germany has been easily the European Union’s most populous nation, with 20 million more inhabitants than its closest rival.


But by 2050 Britons, who both reproduce more and allow more immigration, are likely to outnumber Germans and within a further 10 years France, too, should have leapfrogged its eastern neighbor in the population rankings.


The findings come in an official EU study, released Tuesday, which concedes for the first time that Europeans will begin their long foreseen demographic decline in just seven years’ time - the point at which deaths exceed births.


The report, published by the European Union’s statistical agency Eurostat, reveals large variations between the birth rates of member states but paints an overall picture of an aging population.


The document does not explore the reasons for differences in European fertility. But it does hint at the profound economic and social changes likely to unfold during the next half century, as the proportion of older people grows steadily.


The document did not spell out these likely shifts, but they could include reduced funding for schools, heavy burdens on welfare and social security systems, and perhaps even a political push for much larger immigration, which is currently deeply out of favor with most European voters.


According to the document, not only would Germany lose its status as Europe’s most populous nation but several East European nations would experience a sharp drop in numbers - with populations shrinking by a quarter or more. By contrast Cyprus, Ireland and Luxembourg would all boost their numbers by at least half.


Immigration would not, on current trends, make up the shortfall in the working age population, the report says.


Now with a combined total of 495 million people, the 27 nations that make up the EU would increase their population to a total of 521 million in 2035 before falling back to 506 million in 2060.


The document deals only with population trends in Europe. According to another report published last year, the United States population will increase from 301 million to 468 million in 2060, including 105 million new immigrants. The study, by Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, an independent research institute, used U.S. Census Bureau data and Census Bureau assumptions about future birth and death rates.


Officials stress that the European projections should be treated with caution because they assume current trends continue and that there is no change of policy to deal with the looming demographic crisis.


But for Europeans the economic implications of an aging population are stark. The Eurostat report says that in 2008, in the EU’s 27 nations, “there are four persons of working age (15-64 years old) for every person aged 65 years or over.” In 2060 “the ratio is expected to be two to one.”


The document also suggests a shifting balance in terms of countries’ population size. By 2060 the United Kingdom would have 77 million people; France, 72 million and Germany, 71 million. Italy’s population would grow slightly then fall back to its current level of 59 million while Spain would increase from 45 million to 51 million.


But Poland, which currently numbers 38 million, would drop to 31 million, a reduction of 18%.


Meanwhile even bigger decreases would hit Bulgaria (28%), Latvia (26%, Lithuania (24%) and Romania (21%).


By contrast the population of Cyprus would grow by 66%, Ireland by 53%, Luxembourg by 52% and the United Kingdom by one-quarter.


“From 2015 onwards,” the document says, “deaths would outnumber births and hence population growth due to natural increase would cease. From this point onwards positive net migration would be the only population growth factor.


“However from 2035 this positive net migration would no longer counterbalance the negative natural change and the population is projected to begin to fall.”


Amelia Torres, a European Commission spokeswoman, said the EU needed to stabilize its finances, increase employment and make structural reforms related to pensions.


“We are concerned to find out whether member states will be able to pay for the costs linked to this aging and whether future generations will be over-burdened by it,” she said.


Last week, German researchers from the Berlin Institute for Population and Development said that without immigration, the EU’s population will shrink to 447 million by 2050, Reuters reported from Berlin. The experts predicted that some rural areas - notably in Poland, Bulgaria, Eastern Germany, northern Spain and southern Italy - would empty out completely, Reuters said.




Don’t Mess with the Moral Order (BreakPoint, 080714)


By Chuck Colson


China’s Unwanted Men


In late June an angry crowd, estimated at 10,000 people, set fire to a government building and police cars in southwestern China. More than 150 people were injured, and it took 1,500 paramilitary and riot police to restore a semblance of order.


The crowd was protesting the “alleged cover-up of a teenage girl’s rape and murder” by three young men, including the “son of a local politician.”


While news agencies cited the incident as an example of unrest over corruption and injustices, there is another Chinese problem highlighted in this story: “China’s testosterone problem.”


That’s the term the New Republic used to characterize the social problems caused by the male-female imbalance in China. As writer Mara Hvistendahl tells us, China “has the largest gender imbalance in the world . . .” There are 37 million more men than women in China; and “almost 20% more newborn boys than girls nationwide.” In some parts of China, there are 60% more male children than female!


The imbalance is the product of China’s infamous “one-child policy,” in which the government told villagers, and I quote, “YOU CAN BEAT IT OUT! YOU CAN MAKE IT FALL OUT! YOU CAN ABORT IT! BUT YOU CANNOT GIVE BIRTH TO IT!”


Many villagers complied, but with a twist: They made sure that the “one child” would be a boy, who could earn more than girls could. As a result, a researcher at the Chinese Institute for Social Sciences estimates that 10% of Chinese men will be unable to find wives.


Of course, frustrated men will make their presence felt, as Beijing is learning. After the first generation of “one child” boys hit adolescence, China’s juvenile crime rate more than doubled. Chinese officials complained about young men committing crimes “without specific motives, often without forethought.”


Sound familiar? History teaches us that unattached, unmarriageable males are “disproportionately responsible for drug abuse, looting, vandalism, and violent crime.” This was true of “frontier towns,” “immigrant ghettos,” and our own inner-cities. There is no reason to think that China will be any different.


And the worst is yet to come as the imbalance grows larger. Government officials worry about the “hidden threat to social stability” posed by a cohort of “hopeless, volatile men.” Wars have often started, historically, when men tried to find wives elsewhere.


But the best the government can come up with are slogans like, “Boys and Girls are both treasures.” Meanwhile young Chinese men gather in bars where they pay $15 a minute to assault the waiters. Yes, you heard me correctly. Even more ominously, if the customer prefers, the waiter will dress in women’s clothing. No wonder ordinary Chinese are worried for the safety of their daughters!


It is hard to find a better example of the consequences that arise from defying the moral order that God has written into His creation. China thought it could create a harmonious society where every child was wanted; now unwanted men threaten its very stability.


China fears its own sons and worries about its daughters all because it followed a false worldview, ignoring God’s design.




Global Number of Early Childhood Deaths Falls Below 9 Million for First Time (Paris, International Herald, 090909)


MPATA, Malawi — The number of children dying before their fifth birthdays each year has fallen below nine million for the first time on record, a significant milestone in the global effort to improve children’s chances of survival, particularly in the developing world, according to data that Unicef will release on Thursday.


Rosaria Chimwaza, a health worker, weighed Fanny Kasipati’s newborn in Tetheleya, Malawi. Such outreach efforts have cut child mortality rates. More Photos »


The child mortality rate has declined by more than a quarter in the last two decades — to 65 per 1,000 live births last year from 90 in 1990 — in large part because of the widening distribution of relatively inexpensive technologies, like measles vaccines and anti-malaria mosquito nets.


Other simple practices have helped, public health experts say, including a rise in breast-feeding alone for the first six months of life, which protects children from diarrhea caused by dirty water.


Wealthy nations, international agencies and philanthropists like Bill and Melinda Gates have committed billions of dollars to the effort. Schoolchildren and church groups have also pitched in, paying for mosquito nets and feeding programs.


Taken together, they have helped cut the number of children under 5 who died last year to 8.8 million — the lowest since records were first kept in 1960, Unicef said — from 12.5 million in 1990.


“That’s 10,000 less children dying per day,” said Unicef’s executive director, Ann M. Veneman.


Even so, there is still a long way to go before achieving the goal set by leaders of 189 nations in 2000: to cut the child mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015. Pneumonia and diarrhea, the two leading causes of child deaths, are still relatively neglected, especially compared with malaria and measles, experts say.


“If we say as a world we care about saving children, and tackle the problem systematically, piece by piece, we can make progress, and it’s really important for people to know that,” Mrs. Gates said in an interview.


One of the most vertiginous drops in child mortality has occurred here, in a country so poor that half the children are stunted by malnutrition, so bereft of doctors and nurses that workers with 10th-grade educations dispense antibiotics. Yet for every 1,000 babies born here, 125 more children survived to their fifth birthdays in 2008 than did in 1990, the new figures show.


Malawi’s success and that of nations across the developing world was not inevitable. South Africa, the richest country in sub-Saharan Africa but afflicted with what its scientists and doctors describe as flawed political leadership on health policy over the past decade, is one of only four nations that experienced a rise in mortality rates for children under age 5 from 1990 to 2008. The others are Chad, Congo and Kenya, according to the new figures, which stem from an analysis of household surveys and other data by Unicef, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the United Nations population division.


Malawi illustrates the essence of the most successful efforts to reduce child mortality: it has found many creative ways to get the most cost-effective treatments and prevention methods to women and children, even in remote rural areas. Those interventions have included not just mosquito nets and vaccinations, but also deworming medicines and vitamin A supplements that boost children’s immunity.


Perhaps Malawi’s most powerful weapon is its ranks of more than 10,000 high school-educated village health workers. With a minimum 10 weeks of training, medical checklists to aid them in diagnosing childhood killers and hardy bicycles to get around, they dispense medicines and give injections, tasks only doctors and nurses do in many other countries.


“These days, when a child falls sick in the night, the mother can knock on the door of the health assistant,” said Teresa Frazier, 40. Her own 5-year-old daughter died after falling violently ill one night when Ms. Frazier was a young mother in a Malawian village of mud huts that, at the time, was many miles from the nearest medical help.


But as the sun went down on Monday, Ms. Frazier walked up to the tiny, two-room home of Blessings Mwaraya, 27, a health worker who lives amid banana, avocado and mango trees. Ms. Frazier, who gave birth to nine children, seven of whom survived, said she could not manage any more.


She had come for an injection of Depo Provera for birth control. Mr. Mwaraya, who earns $90 a month, painstakingly shook the little glass bottle containing the solution, drew it into the needle and stuck it in her arm. Health experts say family planning enables women to space births apart and have fewer children, aiding them in bearing healthier babies and better providing for them as they grow up.


“It’s still difficult to feed them all,” Ms. Frazier said of her surviving children, noting the paltry yield of corn on her small plot. Had Mr. Mwaraya been in the village in her younger days, she would have chosen to have had only four children, she said.


Mr. Mwaraya kept the Depo Provera in a plain wooden box, divided into compartments also stuffed with treatments for the main childhood killers: cotrimoxazole, a low-cost antibiotic, against pneumonia; oral rehydration salts for diarrhea; and Coartem, medicine for malaria.


“My interest was to assist my fellow Malawians who were falling sick but never had treatment at the village level,” said Mr. Mwaraya, dressed in a uniform of light blue pants and a short-sleeve jacket.


The pace of progress in Malawi and six other countries with some of the highest proportions of children dying — Nepal, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Laos, Mongolia and Bolivia — has been much steeper than the global average, the new data show. In each, child mortality rates have fallen at least 4.5 percent annually.


Here in Malawi, the mortality rate for children under 5 fell to 100 deaths per 1,000 births in 2008 from 225 in 1990 and 336 in 1970. Other poor nations, like Niger, Mozambique and Ethiopia, have also cut the number of deaths per 1,000 births by more than 100 since 1990, according to the new figures.


Doris Hebuye, a thin, sociable woman, listened from a distance one morning as her daughter Fanny, a new mother, cradled her 10-day-old baby. A health worker counseled Fanny Kasipati, 18, on the finer points of breast-feeding, the danger signs of sickness and choices for birth control.


As she sat outside their mud hut in the village of Tetheleya, Mrs. Hebuye’s eyes had a sad, faraway look as she described the deaths of two of her seven children — Gustus, at 3, and Margaret, at 1 —from causes she had never really understood.


“Malawi is changing for the better,” she said. “In those days, people gave birth without advice. These days, women are assisted in many ways.”




Climate Change: The Bell Tolls for Thee (Christian Post, 091216)

By Harry R. Jackson, Jr


Last week, the worldwide summit on climate change in Denmark encouraged some and terrified others. During the past few years, the debate among many informed people has just not been about whether the globe is getting warmer or not, but about how our nation should respond to the “perceived” international threat.


A few years ago Tony Perkins, president of The Family Research Council, and I decided to tackle the question of climate change and evaluate popular proposals based on two things: 1.) a measurable return on investment and 2.) the value of human life. Our thoughts are catalogued in the book Personal Faith, Public Policy. Based on our study, we are very concerned about the direction that our current administration may be seduced into following in the name of saving the planet. Unfortunately for the US, there are always wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing – supposed “saviors” that may lead us astray.


What was most alarming to Perkins and I was the resurgence of the call for population control as part of the international prescription to prevent global warming. We are concerned that human life will be devalued in order to “protect the ecosystem.” As believers, all of us must make sure that “population control” is not chosen as a major way of balancing out the CO2 equation. Population control is a loaded term that includes not only abortion, contraception, and sterilization, but infanticide and in some cases the promotion of same-sex relations. In an almost Orwellian manner, women from China have testified before the US Congress of forced abortions, as late as nine months into the pregnancy. “Big brother” in China also forced sterilizations because of the nation’s population control measures.


Last Friday, Laura Ingraham confirmed my concerns that we in the west could fall prey to wrong-headed solutions to population control. She bravely tackled this issue on the O’Reilly Factor by interviewing a self-proclaimed Canadian feminist who extolled the virtues of the Chinese “one child” policy. When asked how such a policy would be carried out, her guest feigned ignorance while insisting that bringing a child into a poverty-stricken environment was somehow immoral.


The present call for population control by secular environmental activists is not unlike the warnings sounded by Thomas Malthus in 1798, who said the world’s growing population was growing exponentially while the earth’s food supply could at best be increased only arithmetically. According to Malthus, the population would soon overtax the planet’s ability to sustain the human race. He argued for policies that would result in a decreased population among the poor classes. He warned that if both private and public policies to limit population were not enacted and wars did not decrease the population, disease and famine would. He obviously underestimated the creativity of the generations that followed him. The innovative power of those generations fueled the Industrial Revolution and increased the average agricultural yield per acre.


Similar to Malthus, Stanford University professor Paul R. Ehrlich, sounded an alarm about population control in 1968. His book, The Population Bomb, predicted millions of people would die of starvation in the 1970s and 1980s without population control. The hysteria created by Ehrlich paved the way for the United Nation’s Population Fund, which was established in 1969. Ehrlich believed that those nations who refused to institute his population controls were willing to let citizens of those nations starve to death. He also believed that Indian men who had more than three children should be sterilized by force. Global population control became a major focus of the United Nations as they projected the planet to be overrun with 11.5 billion people. Fortunately for us, Ehrlich was not a prophet. Virtually nothing he wrote came to pass. The UN now admits that the human race, which stands at 6.6 billion people, will fall far short of their projections and peak at 8.5 billion. Demographers currently say that once the population peaks, it will start a long-term decline because of falling birth rates.


Even though the fertility rate is declining across the board in Western nations, it is the most Christian nations that have the highest birth rates. Declining population may eventually become a problem in the west because we have seen children as the consumers of limited resources – rather than a reward and heritage from Lord.


While some well-meaning Christians organized a public a demonstration of solidarity with the Denmark Climate Change summit, we must all beware that we don’t miss the forest for the trees. This past Sunday David Hallman of the World Council of Churches recruited churches in Copenhagen to ring their church bells 350 times in recognition of the 350 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere goals set by popular climatologists. Undoubtedly, these activists see the devastating ecological impacts of climate change as a death sentence on many of the world’s poorest and most marginalized peoples. Unfortunately, though, they have not thought that we could use the considerable financial and scientific resources of more developed countries to help poorer nations industrialize and strategically assist their poorer citizens in moving from disaster prone regions to places of safety, obtaining better jobs and more productive lives.


We don’t need to hear any more bells of affirmation, we need to sound a meaningful alarm that says, “Human life is still important on this planet and that we will carefully, ethically, and strategically steward the earth!”




Canada will have more seniors than kids in the next decade: StatsCan (National Post, 100608)


Canada’s population is expected to increase by as much as 14 million by 2036, according to Statistics Canada’s newest report on population growth.


The agency projects that between 2009 to 2036, Canada’s population could grow from its current 33.7 million to between 40.1 million and 47.7 million.


According to the report, immigration levels represent the greatest share of the projected population increase, with Canada receiving as many as 333,600 immigrants a year by 2036, compared with 252,500 in 2010.


But high immigration levels won’t put a dent in Canada’s rapidly aging population– seniors could account for nearly a quarter of Canada’s entire population by 2036, nearly double the 13.9% they accounted for in 2009.


Seniors are expected to surpass the number of children aged 14 or under for the first time ever between 2015 and 2021.


StatsCan’s provincial and territorial breakdowns have Ontario and B.C. leading the pack in population growth, with rates higher than the national average. Newfoundland and Labrador was the sole province projected to have a population decrease.


Ontario’s population is expected to increase from nearly 13.1 million in 2009 to between 16.1 million and 19.4 million in 2036; Quebec’s population would increase from 7.8 million in 2009 to between 8.6 million and 10 million in 2036. In the west, British Columbia’s population would increase from nearly 4.5 million in 2009 to between 5.8 million and 7.1 million in 2036.


Below, a complete breakdown of StatsCan’s projected population growth by province.


• Alberta’s population would increase from 3.7 million in 2009 to between 4.6 million to 5.4 million in 2036.

• Manitoba’s population would increase from 1.2 million in 2009 to between 1.4 million to 1.7 million in 2036.

• Saskatchewan’s population would increase from 1 million in 2009 to between 1.1 million to nearly 1.3 million 2036.

• Nova Scotia’s population would increase from 938,000 in 2009 to between 987,000 and 1.1 million in 2036.

• New Brunswick’s population would increase from 750,000 in 2009 to between 772,000 and 874,000 in 2036.

• Newfoundland and Labrador’s population could decrease from nearly 509,000 in 2009 to 483,000 in 2036. But medium to high growth projections could result in an increase of anywhere from 514,000 to 545,000 in 2036.

• Prince Edward Island’s population would increase from 141,000 in 2009 to between 161,000 and 188,000 in 2036.

• The population of the Northwest Territories would increase from 43,000 in 2009 to between

49,000 and 57,000 in 2036.

• Yukon’s population would increase from nearly 34,000 in 2009 to between 36,000 and 42,000 in 2036.

• Nunavut’s population would increase from 32,000 in 2009 to between 36,000 and 44,000 in 2036.




US teen birth rate still far higher than W. Europe (World Magazine, 011230)


ATLANTA (AP) — The rate of teen births in the U.S. is at its lowest level in almost 70 years. Yet, the sobering context is that the teen pregnancy rate is far lower in many other countries. The most convincing explanation is that contraceptive use is much higher among teens in most Western European countries.


Last week, U.S. health officials released new government figures for 2009 showing 39 births per 1,000 girls, ages 15 through 19 - the lowest rate since records have been kept on this issue.


That’s close to the teen birth rate for Romania, Turkey and Bulgaria in 2007, the latest numbers available from the World Bank, which collects a variety of data gauging international development.


The teen birth rate for Western Europe and a few other countries is dramatically lower. In the United Kingdom it’s 24 per 1,000 girls. In traditionally Catholic Ireland, it’s 16 and in Italy it’s 5. France’s rate is 7 per 1,000. Canada’s rate is under 13, Sweden’s is under 8, Japan’s is about 5, and in the Netherlands it’s close to 4.


The disparity has existed for decades. Several experts say the reason mostly has to do with more realistic approaches to birth control.


Birth control is less expensive and easier for teens to get in many other developed countries than in the United States. And teachers, parents and physicians tend to be more accepting of teenage sexuality and more likely to encourage use of contraception, said Sarah Brown, chief executive of the Washington, D.C.-based National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.


Teen births are a concern: The hazards of teen pregnancy include higher dropout rates, as well as possible health and other problems for young mothers and their kids.


There are few comprehensive studies of why teen birth rates vary from country to country. And experts say there’s probably not one overarching explanation. For example, the reason for a low teen birth rate may be different in the Netherlands, where prostitution is legal, than in Japan, which traditionally has a more conservative culture when it comes to sex and sex education.


Some countries may have predominant social values that discourage teenage sex, but abstinence-only education programs - a hot topic in the United States - are generally not considered a major reason other countries have lower teen birth rates.


“Not at all,” said Cecilia Ekeus, a researcher in international public health at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute.


“We’re working the opposite way,” she added, describing Sweden’s comprehensive sex education and easy teen access to condoms and birth control pills.


Experts say teen births can be lower when:


-Teens have less sex.


-Teens use contraception correctly and often.


-A larger proportion of pregnant teens has an abortion.


But do those explain the international differences?


As to the first, there is no evidence teens in Europe are having less sex than American teens, so that’s not considered a likely explanation.


If anything, “there may be more sex there than here” among teenagers, said Carl Haub, a demographer with the Washington, D.C.-based Population Reference Bureau.


As to the third, most international comparisons of abortion rates are considered dated and somewhat unreliable because of incomplete information. One smaller study found the United States had a higher abortion rate than Canada and some European countries, and not all experts think it’s a major reason for different birth rates.


But some researchers say abortion is a significant factor in some nations. In Sweden, for example, abortions are legal without parental consent - and quite common. Indeed, one in two women who get pregnant in their lifetime has an abortion, said Ekeus.


There’s much more consensus that birth control is the key to a lower teen birth rate.


Studies indicate that about 80% of sexually active teen girls in Sweden and about 88% in England and France use contraception. In the United States, it’s about 61%.


And in some European countries they are more likely to use longer-lasting forms of birth control, such as the IUD, experts said.


Other explanations? Perhaps race and ethnicity, said Dr. Monique Chireau, a Duke University assistant professor who researches adolescent pregnancy.


She noted the birth rate for white U.S. teens - about 26 per 1,000 - is much lower then the black and Hispanic rates (59 and 70, respectively).


“There are distinctions between different ethnicities,” and the U.S. whites are more comparable to countries with more homogenous white populations, she said.


Factors like proportions of teens that are married in each country, proportions living in poverty, and other demographics also should be considered, she and others said.


Cultural expectations have a lot to do with it, too, said several sources pointing to societies where teen childbearing is not considered an attractive option.


In Sweden, teen motherhood is so far outside the norm that young moms often are assumed to have other problems like a psychiatric diagnosis or drug addiction, Ekeus said.


Swedish teen mothers “differ very much from the general population,” she said.




Canada’s demographic time bomb (National Post, 110402)


Lost in the political drama over the 2011 federal budget was a spending line item that starkly illustrates the fiscal squeeze posed by the aging population — an issue yet to be addressed during the 41st election campaign.


As laid out in the budget, government spending on elderly benefits is set to surge 30% from 2010-11 levels to 2015-16, with annual increases of between 4.9% and 5.8%, well above projected rates of Canadian economic growth.


Dig a bit deeper and the fiscal noose around Ottawa gets tighter. During the next five years it is expected the federal government, of whichever political stripe, will need to find an extra $2-billion each year either through program cuts or tax increases to finance payments through the Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement schemes. From 2015 to 2020, that figure climbs to $3-billion each and every year.


“That money has to come from somewhere,” says Kevin Milligan, economics professor at University of British Columbia, who did the shortfall calculations based on actuarial reports compiled by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.


But there has been little talk about this during the first week of the campaign. Instead, Canadians have been promised roughly $4-billion in annual goodies through income splitting, education and day care.


“By emptying the fridge with all of these current promises, it is going to make it harder for any future finance minister,” Prof. Milligan says.


The aging population is among the big issues that policymakers must confront, as the labour force shrinks, income tax receipts slow, and the pressure builds on governments to fund health care and benefits for the elderly who are living longer and longer. From here on, analysts warn, the government’s budget-making process will incorporate annual program and spending reviews, such as the one proposed in the 2011 federal budget, to find the needed money to pay for the rising price tag for elderly benefits, drugs and doctors. Program cuts, privatizations and outsourcing of back-office operations are all likely to be on the table.


That’s just the beginning. There’s also the issue of unfunded pension and benefits liabilities governments face from the wave of retiring Baby Boomers from the public service. The C.D. Howe Institute, a Toronto think-tank, has warned the unfunded liability in the pension plan for federal public-service workers is actually $65-billion larger than what Ottawa has accounted for on its books.


Glen Hodgson, chief economist at the Conference Board of Canada, said the demographic shift represents a “game changer” for the Canadian economy, much like the soaring loonie has altered the industrial landscape, forcing companies that survive to ramp up capital spending and adjust production.


The greying of Canada means the country will go from a position of surplus labour to labour shortage.


“There is a huge debate coming,” Mr. Hodgson says. “Provincial governments are a little bit ahead of the game as they can see the consequences for health care. But at the federal level it hasn’t become an issue yet — but it is going to have to.”


He cited aggressive moves by Quebec, from spending cuts to a two-percentage-point jump in its provincial sales tax, aimed at balancing the budget in just over two years — faster than what the federal government is proposing. Demographics are a factor driving Quebec’s policy decisions, as projections indicate the province will be among the oldest in the industrialized world, with people 65 and older making up more than 25% of the population by 2031.


“Quebec knows that a revenue crunch is coming,” Mr. Hodgson said. “So now is the time to get back to balance because, if you don’t do it now, the province is going to be hard pressed to do it down the road.”


Under population scenarios developed by Statistics Canada, the Canadian population could exceed 40 million by 2036, with aging projected to “accelerate rapidly” as the entire Baby Boom generation turns 65 in this time frame. The data agency also warned that the number of senior citizens could more than double by 2031, outnumbering children for the first time.


In economic terms, this means slower potential economic growth in the years ahead, which will ultimately translate into slower growth in tax revenue for Ottawa — just as the provinces demand more in transfers to finance an already stretched health-care regime that has to tend to an increased elderly population.


Kevin Page, the parliamentary budget watchdog, has projected the economy’s potential output — the level of goods and services the economy can produce without triggering inflation pressures — will drop to 1.3% by 2020 from 2.1% in 2010 and 3.7% in 2000.


He has cited demographics as a key factor in sticking to his forecast for a $10-billion deficit in 2015, whereas Jim Flaherty, the Minister of Finance, expects a surplus.


In a paper published for Policy Options magazine, Christopher Ragan, economics professor at McGill University, said the Baby Boomers’ exit from the labour force would pose a “significant drag” on growth. Given population trends and assuming productivity growth of 1% to 2% a year, real GDP per capita is set to grow only 1% annually over the next three decades — half the pace recorded in the previous 40 years.


Such a scenario may explain why Bank of Canada officials, led by governor Mark Carney, have urged policymakers and the private sector to confront the country’s “abysmal” productivity record.


“The implications for government tax revenue are clear: in the absence of changes to the governments’ various tax rates, the slowing of the growth in per-capita income will lead to a slowing of Canadian governments’ per-capita tax revenue,” Mr. Ragan said.


Slowing revenue, meanwhile, is on a collision course with increased expenditures on health care and elderly benefits. Mr. Ragan’s calculates the increase in those costs between 2020 and 2040 as people age will be equivalent to 3.5% of Canada’s GDP on an annual basis — or $56-billion in today’s economy, or more than 10% of federal and provincial spending, combined.


“As population aging drives the increase in age-related spending, provinces will demand greater financial transfers from the federal government,” Mr. Ragan said. “Based on the past experience, these heightened demands will create significant political tensions, the resolution of which will depend on the personalities and the political landscape in the place at the time.”


That political battle will take shape when the federal government and the provinces, which are responsible for delivering medical services, begin renegotiating the health-care transfer deal that expires in 2014. The Canada Health Transfer is the single largest expense item on the government books, accounting for $27-billion this fiscal year and more than $30-billion by the time the federal-provincial deal runs out in 2014.


Under the last deal, negotiated in 2004, the provinces were guaranteed 6% annual increases in health transfers. The federal government has said there are no plans to cut transfer payments as part of its deficit-reduction effort, but experts suggest the increases in transfers may be limited to between 3% and 4%.


“What we have is a classic zero sum, in which the provinces, which are at the front-line of the demographic time bomb, will be seeking more money from the federal government, and the federal government seeking to reduce its liabilities,” said Joshua Hjartarson, policy director at the Mowat Centre, a Toronto think-tank.


His concern is that the future of health-care funding will garner little discussion on the election campaign, because of the difficult policy dilemma it raises. In addition, Mr. Hjartarson said, the political leaders may simply resort to the old debate about how much transfers should increase as opposed to looking at new and radical ideas to address the funding crunch that the aging population presents. Issues that should be up for discussion include possibly handing over a chunk of GST revenue to the provinces, and some form of “tax swap” that would give provinces additional capacity to raise revenue.


“It would be a shame if the election doesn’t begin to highlight the problems in the transfer system. If not, our heads are in the sands,” Mr. Hjartarson said.




Census Shows Whites are in Minority Among New Births in U.S. (Foxnews, 110623)


WASHINGTON — For the first time, minorities make up a majority of babies in the U.S., part of a sweeping race change and a growing age divide between mostly white, older Americans and predominantly minority youths that could reshape government policies.


Preliminary census estimates also show the share of African-American households headed by women — mostly single mothers — now exceeds African-American households with married couples, a sign of declining U.S. marriages overall but also of continuing challenges for black youths without involved fathers.


The findings, based on the latest government data, offer a preview of final 2010 census results being released this summer that provide detailed breakdowns by age, race and householder relationships.


Demographers say the numbers provide the clearest confirmation yet of a changing social order, one in which racial and ethnic minorities will become the U.S. majority by midcentury.


“We’re moving toward an acknowledgment that we’re living in a different world than the 1950s, where married or two-parent heterosexual couples are now no longer the norm for a lot of kids, especially kids of color,” said Laura Speer, coordinator of the Kids Count project for the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation.


“It’s clear the younger generation is very demographically different from the elderly, something to keep in mind as politics plays out on how programs for the elderly get supported,” she said. “It’s critical that children are able to grow to compete internationally and keep state economies rolling.”


Currently, non-Hispanic whites make up just under half of all children 3 years old, which is the youngest age group shown in the Census Bureau’s October 2009 annual survey, its most recent. In 1990, more than 60% of children in that age group were white.


William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who analyzed the data, said figures in the 2009 survey can sometimes be inexact compared with the 2010 census, which queries the entire nation. But he said when factoring in the 2010 data released so far, minorities outnumber whites among babies under age 2.


The preliminary figures are based on an analysis of the Current Population Survey as well as the 2009 American Community Survey, which sampled 3 million U.S. households to determine that whites made up 51% of babies younger than 2. After taking into account a larger-than-expected jump in the minority child population in the 2010 census, the share of white babies falls below 50%.


Twelve states and the District of Columbia now have white populations below 50% among children under age 5 — Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Florida, Maryland, Georgia, New Jersey, New York and Mississippi. That’s up from six states and the District of Columbia in 2000.


At current growth rates, seven more states could flip to “minority-majority” status among small children in the next decade: Illinois, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Connecticut, South Carolina and Delaware.


By contrast, whites make up the vast majority of older Americans — 80% of seniors 65 and older and roughly 73% of people ages 45-64. Many states with high percentages of white seniors also have particularly large shares of minority children, including Arizona, Nevada, California, Texas and Florida.


“The recent emergence of this cultural generation gap in states with fast growth of young Hispanics has spurred heated discussions of immigration and the use of government services,” Frey said. “But the new census, which will show a minority majority of our youngest Americans, makes plain that our future labor force is absolutely dependent on our ability to integrate and educate a new diverse child population.”




Six billionth person still lives in poverty (National Post, 110813)


The first child of Jasmin and Fatima was welcomed by camera flashes and the title of being the six-billionth person on the planet.


The swaddled infant rested in the pinstriped embrace of Kofi Annan, then-UN secretary-general, who posed with the child moments after his birth.


More than 11 years on, Adnan is in sixth grade and earning As, according to a report in Maclean’s magazine. He loves dogs and soccer.


However, much of the optimism that surrounded his birth has been superseded by reality.


He sleeps in the same room as his parents in their small apartment in Visoko, central Bosnia. Most of the people who promised help never came through with their donations.


The family is still poor and Jasmin has bowel cancer and can no longer work as a boiler operator.


The city of Sarajevo subsidizes the birth of its spotlight citizen with ¤100 a month ($140), but Adnan’s family still cannot afford to enroll him in a soccer league.


Every year, visitors check in with the boy to mark the momentous day.


“They stroke my head, and then they disappear,” he said.




World population could double, warns UN (Daily Telegraph, 111026)

The number of people on Earth could double by the end of the century, the United Nations has warned, as the world population passes the milestone of seven billion for the first time at the end of the month.


The seven billionth person in the world is expected to arrive sometime after midnight on October 31, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).


It is impossible to identify the newborn who will break the barrier but hospitals around the world are encouraged to celebrate a “symbolic child” including St Thomas’ Hospital in London.


The UNFPA, that is in charge of monitoring the world population, said the seven billion mark was passed earlier than expected because people are living longer, more babies are surviving and more children are being born in the developing world.


Although the world population is not growing as fast as it was in the mid 1960s, because developed countries like Britain have a lower birth rate, the number of people in 58 countries, including India, continues to grow.


Previously the UN had kept to the conservative estimate that the population will grow to more than 10 billion by 2100.


However if birth rates in developing countries continue to grow, the total could reach 10.6 billion by 2050 and 15 billion by 2100.


“Much of this increase is expected to come from the high fertility countries, which comprise 39 in Africa, nine in Asia, six in Oceania and four in Latin America,” reported the UN.


Environmentalists, including high profile figures like Sir David Attenborough, argue that the situation is simply not sustainable as food and water runs out.


Population Matters, a UK lobby group campaigning to reduce population growth, plans to put adverts on London Underground urging people to have “two or fewer” children.


But launching the latest State of the Population report, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, chief executive of the UNFPA, said consumption rather than numbers is the real issue.


He pointed out that seven billion people “in a group photo” would only take up as much space as the city of Los Angeles in California.


“The population question is not about the amount of space people take up,” he explained. “It is about equity, social justice, distribution and consumption.”


Asia will remain the most populous area in the world, with 4.2 billion people today, rising to 5.2 billion in 2052 before falling. However Africa is gaining ground passing from one billion today to 3.6 billion in 2100.


The populations of all other major areas including the Americas, Europe and Oceania amount to 1.7 billion in 2011 and are projected to rise to nearly 2 billion in 2060 before falling. Europe is projected to peak at around 2025 at 0.74 billion and decline thereafter.


Dr Osotimehin admitted the rate of population growth is a concern in countries, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, where population growth outstrips economic development.


He pointed out there are 215 million women worldwide who want family planning but who cannot get it. He said it would cost just $2 billion (£1.25 billion) to help those women take control of their own reproduction.


Investment in family planning has fallen in recent years and he said the seven billion mark is a ‘wake up call’ for both Governments and donors to invest in access to education and contraception.


“We must ensure that every pregnancy is wanted and that every child is born with care and dignity.”


Dr Osotimehin pointed out that there are more young people in the world than ever before with 1.8 billion 10-24-year-olds, mostly living in the developing world.


He said this was a great opportunity to ensure a better world by educating these people and providing opportunities.


He also said that 70 per cent of people will live in cities by 2050, meaning there must be more investment in urban planning.


In the developed world there is a massive ageing population who must be given opportunities for work and cared for in old age.


“Today’s milestone is a reminder that we must act now,” he said.


Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters, agreed more should be done to limit population growth in both the developed and developing world.


He called for funding for family planning and is also calling on people in the developed world to have “two or fewer” children.


“The United Nations 7 billion day is a date no one should ignore. Everyone agrees that we need to find ways to create a sustainable world for future generations. Slowing population growth can play a valuable role in this.


“Population Matters and other population concern organisations are calling for improved overseas aid for women’s education and family planning services to enable women to have more choice in career options and family formation. Where people have choices, such as the UK, we are asking them to have ‘two or fewer’ children as part of a sustainable lifestyle.”


However Vanessa Baird, the author of the No Nonsense Guide to Population, said that consumption by people in the rich world is the major threat to the planet.


She pointed out that even if the population growth was slowed it would make little difference to rates of consumption.


She said population growth is being used as an excuse to get away from addressing the much more difficult issue of reducing energy use and consumption. She pointed out that much of the world’s food is wasted and there is plenty to feed people if it was distributed fairly.


“When people say too many people they mean too many other people,” she said. “The danger is that calls for population control goes into the territory again of racism, anti-immigration, eugenics.


“People think if you give the argument a greenish hue it makes it OK. But if you scrape away at the service you find these anxieties about immigration about religion, class, politics. It is about losing power and privilege.


“If you look at controlling the pop as the solution you are ignoring the real problem. It is to do with consumption, power, energy. It is how we are using the planet rather than how many people are on it.”




Population to hit seven billion: experts warn of ‘bachelor nations’ (Daily Telegraph, 111026)

As the global population hits seven billion, experts are warning that skewed gender ratios could fuel the emergence of volatile “bachelor nations” driven by an aggressive competition for brides.


Many demographers believe the resulting shortage of adult women over the next 50 years will have as deep and pervasive an impact as climate change.


The statistics behind the warnings are grimly compelling.


Nature provides an unbending biological standard for the sex ratio at birth of 104-106 males to every 100 females. Any significant divergence from that narrow range can only be explained by abnormal factors.


In India and Vietnam the figure is around 112 boys for every 100 girls. In China it is almost 120 to 100 – and in some places higher than 130.


And the trend is spreading: to regions like the South Caucasus, where Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia all post birth ratios of more than 115 to 100, and further west to Serbia and Bosnia.


Global awareness of the problem was raised back in 1990 with an article by the Nobel Prize-winning Indian economist Amartya Sen that carried the now famous title: “More Than 100 Million Women Are Missing.”


Demographers say that figure is now more than 160 million – women selected out of existence by the convergence of traditional preferences for sons, declining fertility and, most crucially, the prevalence of cheap prenatal sex-determination technology.


As many as half a million female foetuses are estimated to be aborted each year in India, according to a study by British medical journal The Lancet.


“Earlier villagers had to go to the city to get a sonogram (ultrasound),” said Poonam Muttreja, executive director of the non-profit Population Foundation of India. “Today sonographers are going into the villages to cater to people who want sons.”


Even if the sex ratio at birth returned to normal in India and China within 10 years, Guilmoto says men in both countries would still face a “marriage squeeze” for decades to come.


“Not only would these men have to marry significantly older, but this growing marriage imbalance would also lead to a rapid rise in male bachelorhood ... an important change in countries where almost everyone used to get married,” he said.


How that change might manifest itself is hotly debated, although nearly everyone agrees there is no foreseeable upside.


Some forecast an increase in polyandry and sex tourism, while others predict cataclysmic scenarios with the rise of male-surplus societies where sexual predation, violence and conflict are the norm.


A particularly alarmist note was sounded several years ago by political scientists Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer, who wrote that Asian countries with too many men posed a security threat to the West.


“High-sex-ratio societies are governable only by authoritarian regimes capable of suppressing violence at home and exporting it abroad through colonisation or war,” they said.


UN agencies have issued similar warnings about the correlation between a scarcity of women and increases in sex trafficking and marriage migration, albeit with certain caveats.


“The data is really limited,” said Nobuko Horibe, Asia-Pacific director of the UN Population Fund. “It is very likely that this marriage squeeze would lead to these phenomena ... but it’s very anecdotal at this stage.”


But while more and more red flags are being raised over the long-term implication of skewed sex ratios, few solutions are being offered.


Sex-selective abortion is illegal in both China and India, but officials say the law is incredibly difficult to enforce.