Friday, June 22, 2012

Some Friday demographics blog links

The Burgh Diaspora builds from the brief Demography Matters post I made Monday, about the likelihood of the resumption of patterns of migration from Mediterranean to northern Europe regardless of what happens to the Eurozone, and wonders why people won't also migrate from Mediterranean Europe to points elsewhere in the world, to potentially more lucrative destinations than Germany--Brazil, say. The answer to that is that this migration is already ongoing to some extent, perhaps most visibly with migration from Portugal to Brazil and Angola. Migration from Mediterranean Europe to points elsewhere--to Latin America, to the Middle East, to Eat Asia--is ongoing and likely to accelerate. The European Union's frontiers are hardly impenetrable, and different Europeans do have different degrees of connection to non-European Union societies and economies that haven't been erased. (The interest of some Greeks and Irish in moving to Canada and Australia comes to mind as another point.)

Crooked Timber's Chris Bertram was unhappy with new immigration provisions proposed in the United Kingdom, based on financial and language requirements that the majority of Britons wouldn't meet. Press reports, from The Independent for instance, seem to indicate that the basic principles of this policy are going to be enacted, part of the United Kingdom's swing towards a strongly anti-immigration policies. (Ed Milliband of Labour is also in favour of strict immigration controls, albeit not the ones under discussion.

Eastern Approaches visited northwestern Bulgaria and finds a declining region kept afloat by mass migration, to Bulgarian cities and to the wider European Union.
Very, very slowly an old lady with a walking stick creeps along the street. Sitting in the shade four more tell me that they have just been to the funeral of the youngest of their friends. She loved to sing at parties, they say. Three of the four have children and most of them have left Montana, this north-western Bulgarian town. They have gone to work in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, 130kms to the south, or abroad. Life is “misery” says one of the ladies and, all talking at once, they compete to tell me just how awful it is. 

Their pensions range from €110 to €140 a month. One has a daughter who works in Germany, looking after Russian speaking pensioners. “She sings to them.” Another has a daughter who works for a family in Greece but her pay has just been cut. “But she still has a job.” The daughter of another worked for 20 years in Moscow but is now back and unemployed. “Life is getting harder every day,” says Margarita Rangelova, aged 82.

And for many in Montana, there is not much prospect of life getting better any time soon. As in much of Bulgaria the population is shrinking, ageing and changing. According to Bulgaria’s censuses, in 1985 its population was 8.94m. By 1992 Bulgaria’s population was 8.48m, in 2001 it was 7.92m and by last year it had shrunk again to 7.36m. Bulgarians have few children. As many as one million of them are working abroad.

Bulgaria’s north-western region is one of the poorest in the European Union. In the last decade the town of Montana has lost 11% of its population but the wider municipality lost 18.7%. Across Bulgaria only populations of Sofia and coastal Varna have grown significantly. 

According to Zlatko Zhivkov, the mayor of Montana, most of those who have gone abroad for work have left for Spain, Italy, Greece and Germany. Some do seasonal work so they come and go, but they are all an important source of money here. The crisis is hurting. Mr Zhivkov guesses that as many as one third of the region’s migrants have come home because they have lost their jobs abroad.

Extraordinary Observations takes a look at statistics on migration to and from Rust Belt cities in the United States, finding that while net migration seems to be up there's not such a huge revolution as some sources suggest.
[The argument s that [f]irst, that young people have found new love for Rust Belt cities because the "cooler locales" in coastal metros have gotten so expensive that young people can't afford them anymore. Second, that when these people live in rust belt cities, they opt for the urban core rather than the "posh" suburbs.

I think the second point has some merit, and it's been documented that even in central Cleveland neighborhoods that are losing population, the number of young people in those neighborhoods is growing (the key to remember is that these neighborhoods are still shrinking, they're just shifting appeal to a younger crowd). Nevertheless, the first point is open to interpretation, and whether you think it's true or not depends how you define "droves" of people.


Steve Salmony said...

With regard to the need to humanely and swiftly shrink the colossal size of the human population on Earth, please note that declining TFRs cannot be the primary driver of rapid population decline because the growth of absolute global human population numbers could be a function of food supply. Declining TFRs in certain places, perhaps many places on the surface of the Earth, must not blind us to the observable fact that absolute population numbers of the humans species are continuing to grow fast worldwide. Not to see, or if seen not to acknowledge and accept the biophysical reality that TFRs are indeed declining incrementally and simultaneously with the skyrocketing increase of absolute global human population numbers could be a critical failure of human perception, scientific thought and empirical abject error derived from defective judgment and deficient knowledge, with profound implications for future of life as we know it in our planetary home.

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