Thursday, June 06, 2013

Some demographics-related news links

* I was quite surprised by the news, reported by the BBC among others, that the most recent German census revealed that the country's overall population was overestimated by 1.5 million. The whole set of discrepancies between updated estimates for West and East Germany and the 2011 census is described in detail at the website of the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, here, here, and here. It's noteworthy that the biggest overestimate by far occurred among foreigners, whose numbers were overestimated by 1.1 million.

* News from Europe's periphery is generally dire. The Inter Press Service's Zoltán Dujisin argues that Hungary is starting to experience a brain drain of professionals to western Europe, a consequence of deteriorating economic and political conditions. The Portugal News observes the continuing fall in Portuguese birth rates, noting that poverty--not just a lack of funding for families, but absolute shortages of necessities like money and even food--is preventing any possibility of a quick recovery. Reporting from Skopje, Balkan Insight notes that more than a tenth of the population of Macedonia is recorded to have emigrated between 1998 and 2011, Eurostat additionally noting that this does not capture irregular migration. Also from the Balkans, the BBC has a depressing profile of the employment situation for young people in Greece. Where emigration is not a realistic option, volunteering is often the only possibility for young Greeks to do something in the hope that, one day, they might enjoy a salary.

* At New Eastern Europe, Filip Mazurczak writes about demographic policies in the former Communist world, arguing that the discontinuation of perfectly helpful policies like workplace childcare after the end of Communism may have contributed to the collapse of birth rates. Estonia is singled out as one country that has made noteworthy progress, as is Russia. The Baltic Course takes a look at the balance of migration in Estonia. Emigration and immigration have both surged in recent years, with just under eleven thousand people leaving in 2012 and a bit over four thousand immigrating. Finland and United Kingdom are the major destinations for Estonian emigrants, while Finland and Russia are the major sources of immigrants. Estonia is uniquely favoured among the Baltic States in having a migration partner so close at hand in Finland.

* The Daily Mail notes that rural and even exurban areas of the United States are facing population decline and aging, as dismal economies and shrinking opportunities encourage migration to cities.

* The Economist observes the rapid and thorough demographic transformations of Latin America, with sharply falling fertility rates, radically changed gender roles, and the rise of new family forms including cohabitation. The article's conclusion that Latin America risks wasting its demographic dividend if it doesn't transform its educational and pension systems in time to, respectively, maximize the coming generation's human capital and prepare to finance its retirement.

* Also at the Economist, the Buttonwood blog examines Spanish youth unemployment, placing the relative reluctance of young Spanish workers to migrate to Germany (compared to their Greek, Romanian, and Polish counterparts) to the relatively better conditions they experience and argues that youth unemployment estimates wrongly include students and mothers of young children.

* The South China Morning Post notes that in Hong Kong, the ongoing fall in fertility rates now means that one-child families outnumber their two-child counterparts for the first time in the city-state's history. In adjacent Macau, meanwhile, population growth is dominated by immigration, 60% of immigrants coming from China but a quarter from the Philippines and Vietnam.

* Australia's ABC News argues that Australia's much-hyped baby bonus didn't contribute to the uptick in fertility rates in that country, that the recuperation of postponed fertility is a more likely explanation.

* Finally, on the lighter end, the Czech capital of Prague has assigned subway cars to singles and the Hungarian government is setting up dance parties, all in efforts to boost birth rates. The Atlantic's Jordan Weissman wonders, meanwhile, if spending on pets and pet ownership is growing as people of parent age respond to the growing costs of children by switching to less expensive substitutes.


Abu Daoud said...

Any information on high birthrate countries like Afghanistan and Yemen?

Beth (@DataGeekB) said...

Re: The Germany census, is an over-count really that surprising?

The last census in West Germany was 25 years ago, the last in East Germany was 30 years ago... Demographers have been using vital records and registries to keep track since then.

Given that everyone has to register when they arrive, but not everyone *does* un-register when they depart, an over-estimate (especially of immigrants) is not terribly surprising.

I say less than 2 percent over-estimate over the course of 3 decades without a census is pretty darned good!

Randy McDonald said...

Abu Daoud: That hasn't been anything I've been following.

Beth: It's not surprising, on reflection, and the population estimates were quite good. I implied that the population of citizens was impressively on.

I do wonder if the apparent underestimate of foreigners had political import, though.

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