Friday, July 24, 2015

On "The Wetsuitman"

I recently came across an English-language article in Norway's Dagbladet, "The Wetsuitman". Written by Anders Fjellberg and featuring photos by Tomm W. Christiansen and Hampus Lundgren, it's a superb if very sad piece of investigative journalism that takes two wetsuit-clad bodies found on the shores of the North Sea and uses them to examine such phenomena as Syria's war refugees and the desperate attempts of migrants to enter the United Kingdom from France. That it does not provide easy answers to any of the situations it describes is a strength, as there are none.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Some news links: Greece, China, Japan, Hong Kong

I thought I'd share three clusters of news links on subjects I've been following here, and one oddity.
  • As Greece heads towards a catastrophic meltdown, the theme of emigration from Greece is one of several being explored by the international press. The Guardian and Bloomberg suggest that all kinds of professionally-trained Greeks are looking for a way out of their country, that newspaper later looking specifically to the Greek community in New York City while Reuters notes the dynamics of the Greek community in Australia's second city of Melbourne. (Migration within the Eurozone has not been such a major theme, at least in the English-language media I regularly read, but I don't doubt it's a reality.) With even the best-case predictions for Greece's economic recovery being decidedly dire and the large-scale flight of Greek professionals doing nothing to make this better, I think it's safe to predict that whatever the outcome of this crisis, Greece for the next while will be most notable as a place future generations of immigrants will come from.
  • Japan, meanwhile, is facing rapid aging. The Asahi Shinbun notes that the national population fell by more than a quarter-million people, the biggest losers being rural prefectures and the only gainers urban ones (and the outlier of Okinawa). This shrinkage, accompanied by a rapid shrinkage of the work force, is leading to increased pressure on benefits to seniors, while working mothers continue to face problems on the job and in life.
  • In adjacent China, the prospect of labour shortages is looming. Marginal Revolution noted earlier this week the costs imposed on the Chinese labour market by protections. This, along with the disappearance of China's rural surplus labour as a consequence of below-replacement fertility and migration, makes me think any number of futures are possible for China demographically. This includes the possibility of international immigration.
  • Finally, the Irish Times was one newspaper among many that reported on a half-joking proposal in 1983 by people within the British government to resettle millions of Chinese in Northern Ireland if they so wanted it. (The Guardian goes into more detail about the specifics of the proposal.) This proposal seems at the time to have been a joke born of frustration with the complex situations of Northern Ireland and Hong Kong, yet it raises an interesting question: Why didn't the United Kingdom have programs to attract immigrants from Hong Kong in the years before the handover to China, like other countries around the world