Should We Call “Life Expectancy” Something Else?

The most widely used indicator of the level of mortality in any population is the life expectancy at birth. This is entirely appropriate as the measure is usually an excellent reflection of the overall mortality conditions of a given year or other period. Similar calculations can be made for life expectancy any age, but the value at birth is by far the most commonly encountered in general discussion of health and mortality.

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Why Mothers in Slums May Prefer the Informal Healthcare Sector: Lessons from Dhaka, Bangladesh

Infant and child mortality has declined dramatically across the globe in recent decades, in large part due to public health measures such as universal vaccination, better nutrition and improved health care services. However, deaths remain much higher in poor disadvantaged populations, in part, because of such issues as lower vaccination rates. A critical issue is the delay in infants obtaining skilled health services during illness. Children’s caregivers may not initially realise the seriousness of the child’s condition and as a result may not access appropriate health services. Key inhibiting factors are limited knowledge of critical symptoms and restricted access to professional advice. In addition the caregivers may lack quick and affordable access to appropriate services. Continue reading


Flooding Across Borders? Are Environmental Problems Causing International Migration?

Nearly 30 years ago, the term “environmental refugee” came into regular use, and today’s incarnation – the “climate change refugee” – continues to provoke popular and political interest. Using the term “environmental/climate refugee” to describe people who move for environmental reasons (e.g. drought, flooding, pollution, natural disasters) has, however, sparked numerous debates. The disputes are partially related to the fact that the legal definition of a refugee does not include protection for people displaced by the environment. In addition, it can be difficult to disentangle environmental from other motivations for migration, such as economic and political ones. Continue reading


Missing Out on College: The Role of Family Instability in Educational Attainment in the United States

The value and meaning of a college education in the United States has perhaps never been more contentious than it is today. Media and political attention highlight rising tuition rates, soaring student debt, and an anemic entry-level job market for recent college graduates. Fewer than 60 percent of students who begin post-secondary education earn a Bachelor’s degree within six years. At the same time, scholars and activists have argued that increased access to college education and improved retention to graduation may be the most effective pair of strategies available to increase social mobility and ameliorate economic inequality while expanding economic growth.

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Minimalists, Gamblers, and Pioneers: How Future Aspirations Offer Insight in to Current Complexities

Studies of contraceptive use reveal intersecting, and often competing, life realms that individuals navigate when making fertility decisions. The decision of whether or not to use contraception is only in part a decision about one’s desire for a child; it is also a consideration of potential career tradeoffs, social network repercussions, financial resources, and the development of one’s identity as an adult – man or woman. Alternatively, a laissez faire approach to pregnancy prevention can be equally revealing of an individual’s or couple’s negotiations through other important life goals.

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Occupational Mobility of Immigrants in Advanced Countries: How Do They Fare Between Home and Host Countries?

It is widely recognized that the performance in the labour market is a key element of the economic and social integration of immigrants in host countries. Thus, it is no surprise that the occupational attainment of immigrants and its evolution over time has been the focus of considerable attention in the academic literature. Whereas most of the empirical studies on this issue tend to compare the occupational mobility of immigrants with that of native workers, a particularly interesting alternative approach is to examine the occupational mobility of immigrants between their home and host countries.

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The Changing Meaning of Cohabitation in Europe and North America. Signs of Convergence?

The diffusion of cohabitation during the last decades is one of the most striking aspects of wider social changes that have taken place throughout the industrialized world. Over time, the meaning of cohabitation has changed from being a deviant behavior to an almost fully accepted one. However, cohabitation has not spread uniformly across countries and the speed of change in the meaning of cohabitation can be very different. Is cohabitation becoming an alternative to marriage, as predicted by the Second Demographic Transition (SDT), or are there some persistent differences between countries?

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How Mexico’s Investments in Education Will Change North American Agriculture

Worldwide, as income per capita rises, the share of the population working in agriculture diminishes. At present, there is little research investigating the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon. In a new paper, I examine the role of human capital investments in the transition off the farm, using household panel data that is nationally representative of rural Mexico. Does improved access to schools reduce the probability that individuals do farm work?

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Are Responses to Unemployment Homogenous Across Social Strata?

EBENEZER SCROOGE, from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” famously suggests that the poor could “decrease the surplus population” by dying rather than entering the workhouse. Since then, the dynamics of the world economy changed and industrialized countries’ fertility dropped by more than half between the mid-nineteenth and the early twentieth century.

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Achieving the 21st Century ‘Depopulation Dividend’. Japan as the World’s Research Laboratory for a More Sustainable Future

Humanity is approaching an historic transformation. Towards the end of the 21st century the world’s population will very possibly begin to decline in number, and East Asia is in the vanguard (Figure 1). This is being achieved in nearly all countries not via coercion, but voluntarily, as female emancipation and education, urbanisation, and economic development spread across the world, lifestyles and life choices change, and medical knowledge and technologies advance.

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