Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Five noteworthy links

This morning, I thought I'd share five population-related blog posts of interest with you. (It is still morning in Toronto.)

  • At the Economist's Eastern Approaches blog, notice was made of a recent conference on the plight of the Romani of Romania. There's room for hope, but then, it also seems like the Romanian government and many ordinary people would like the Romani to, quietly, take advantage of Schengen Zone and leave, so lightening the burden. Among other things

  • No clear consensus emerged on the impact of EU funds on Romania's Romanies, most of whom live in dire conditions. This is no great surprise considering that red tape and ministerial incompetence has meant that only about 1% of the €20 billion allocated to Romania in EU structural funds has actually been spent. Government programmes for the Romanies, such as positive discrimination for universities, barely scratch the surface. Most of Romania's Romanies remain marginalised, with little or no access to healthcare, education or social services.

    But the conference did have two interesting outcomes. One was a discussion of an excellent piece of research by the World Bank, which states that the cost of educating Romania's Romanies would be far exceeded by the contribution an educated Romani workforce would make to the national economy. The opportunity presented by the report suggested that all the chatter—by both government representatives and Romani leaders—about strategy, empowerment, consultation, rights, monitoring, community projects, exclusion, research, discrimination and poverty was missing the point.

  • The Global Sociology blog examines the migration of soccer players from player-sending countries and regions (Africa, Latin America, eastern Europe) to player-receiving countries. It illustrates how "individual trajectories shape up to be [. . .] a function of interaction with specific social networks and human intermediation, social capital, economic and speculative interests, competitive advantages and structured inequalities in the world-system."

  • * The platform space: the first country to which the player comes from (often the periphery or the semi-periphery)
    * The stepping stone space: the country from which the player gains access to a “big league” country (for instance, less dominant European countries in the European football world)
    * The transit space: the country the player passes through and leaves and where the level of competition is what he is used to
    * The relay space: the country where the player was loaned before he returned to either the stepping stone or the transit space
    * The destination space: the wealthiest and most prestigious leagues and clubs (England)

  • At his New England History blog (New England being the northeastern part of the Australian state of New South Wales, not the American region), Jim Belshaw describes how demographic changes--accompanied, of course, by all manner of changes including fluctuation gender roles and theological and institutional innovation, with hostile and confused reactions to these prevailing--helped undermine the Methodist and Roman Catholic religious communities in his region (and, I suspect Australia, as most of the industrialized world).

    In the Australia of 2009, it is hard to believe that majority of the Australian population once lived outside the capital cities. The decline in country Australia began in the nineteenth century, but accelerated during the twentieth century and especially in the period after the Second World War. Uralla really suffered - by the 1960s and 1970s even its main stores had closed.

    This decline reduced the population available to the Methodist Church. However, the Church's decline was accentuated by other factors. A key was the social structure of the Church itself. To survive, the Church had to reach out beyond its now middle class base; it could not because of the attitudes of its membership and especially its senior laity. Dempsey quotes case after case where those in the lower middle and working classes with some connection to Methodism dropped out because they felt excluded.

    [. . .]

    The mass Australian mass migration program that began at the end of the Second World War brought to Australia more than a million non-Irish Catholics. The Church and its orders such as the Ursulines struggled to build and staff the schools required to educate the new arrivals. Then came waves of change and reform that swept the Church and confused the laity, but even more so the religious whose entire life had been built around previous structures.

  • At the Discover=hosted blog Not Rocket Science, Ed Yong reports on a study demonstrating that there is discrimination against people of Senegalese background in the French labour market. And if anything, relatively positive stereotypes of the Senegalese might mean they're doing better than other groups.

  • Khadija Diouf had a well-known Muslim first name and an obvious Senegalese surname and had worked with Secours Islamique, a humanitarian organisation. Marie Diouf had worked for its counterpart Secours Catholique and had an obvious Christian first name. And Aurélie Ménard had a typical French name with no religious connotations and had only worked for secular firms.

    In the spring of 2009, Adida collected ads for secretarial and accounting jobs from the French national employment agency and grouped them into pairs, matched for area, sector, company size and position. For each pair, both received Aurélie’s CV while one received Khadija’s and one received Marie’s.

    The results were striking. Marie Diouf got a positive response on 21% of her applications; she was clearly an employable (if fictional) young woman. But Khadija Diouf – her exact equal in virtually every respect – got callbacks from just 8% of her applications. For every 100 interviews that Marie was called for, Khadija was summoned for just 38. Even after Adida included a photo on the applications (the same one, showing a woman who was clearly not North African), she found the same bias.

  • Carl Haub at the Population Reference Blog's Behind the Numbers wonders whether, in light of continued low fertility rates and profound ambivalence towardss immigration, economic rationales might mean Germany could adopt a more open policy towards immigrants, perhaps using something akin to Canada's points system to accumulate skilled migrants.

  • [A}ccording to a study conducted by Bernd Raffelhü, [. . .] not only are immigrants being sought to fill technical positions in German industry but, throughout their lifetimes, they actually contribute more to government coffers than they take out. The German economics minister also stated that German companies are clamoring for workers.

    Often, immigrants are portrayed as a burden on the state budget. The study concluded that that was true in the past but well-trained immigrants in higher paying fields make an immediate contribution through taxes and increase the size of the consumer market. Given their younger age than the workforce in general, such benefits can begin immediately. While it is true that some immigrants will take lower paying jobs that Germans themselves no longer want, an increased emphasis on skilled workers will fill many gaps. The study also recommended that immigrants and their children must integrate into German society, a point recently made by Chancellor Merkel, so that Germans do not feel that their country is becoming too multicultural.

  • Co-blogger Scott Peterson, at Wasatch Economics reports on how Ireland's economic catastrophe has reawakened the old trade of emigration, this one directed to countries like Canada and Australia which have escaped the worst of things. The strict rules that potential destination countries have established, Scott notes, aren't going to help things.
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