Grandparental child care is traditionally considered an altruistic act. Therefore, research on this intergenerational exchange has focused on its effects on the younger generations, e.g., grandchildren’s developmental outcomes, cognitive stimulation, and educational attainment; but also middle generation’s benefits deriving from grandparents’ help. The unpaid child care provided by grandparents, by favouring mothers’ labour force participation, is also likely to produce benefits for the welfare system, especially when the child care services offered by the market are costly and public provision is scarce.
During the 1990s, Iran secured one of – if not the – fastest fertility declines of any country in history. In the mid-1980s, the total fertility rate in Iran was more than 5.6. BY 2000 this had fallen to below replacement rate (around 2.0) This was achieved through the implementation of a highly progressive family planning policy in tandem with increased employment and educational opportunities for women. Today, fertility in Iran is around 1.9.
Once upon a time, population was a central issue in the international debate on the future of the planet. Despite profound ideological and political differences among the major players of the global scene, there was consensus that population growth and change were major factors affecting social and economic development. This common awareness reached a climax between the early 1970s and early 1990s, marked by three UN-sponsored Conferences in Bucharest (1974), Mexico (1984) and Cairo (1994). The latter Conference (ICPD, or International Conference on Population and Development) approved a major declaration (Programme of Action) containing a summa of all desirable actions to be initiated, implemented or sustained, concerning all facets of population dynamics, in the full respect of human rights, and oriented to achieve sustainable development . Continue reading
In humanity’s continued efforts to adapt to a global ageing population, an article on BBC News and another article on CNN published late last year discuss a new solution to filling the elderly care gap: using robots to meet both the physical and emotional needs of our expanding elderly population. The idea of a “robotic” future may sound like science fiction and even invoke a sense of uneasiness, yet the change is gradually taking place across the world before our very eyes. Robots today can perform an amazing array of tasks: moving patients between rooms, tracking their sleep patterns, reminding them to take their medication, providing speech therapy to dementia patients, giving massages, and preparing and delivering meals. The recent development in assistive technology for care reminds us that we are living on the brink of the future and also invites us to reflect on the adaptability of modern social policies introduced over the past hundred or so years.
Japan seems to be finally rising out of the so-called “lost decades”. The turn-around is result of a completely new economic policy. Japan must change its social institutions, and perhaps values, in order to complete the transition. The change also requires Japan to go boldly where no society has gone before by building new economic and political institutions. Japan has the lowest fertility rate in the world, and the highest life expectancy. This implies it is aging faster than any other nation on earth. However, the country’s social systems were established in the years immediately following World War II and suited a very young and growing population. Continue reading
Demographic phenomena have often been cited as causes of poverty, environmental damage, resource depletion and other social and economic crises. One of the latest examples of this is the attempt to explain problems associated with the sustainability of welfare systems, such as rising old-age dependency, pension and healthcare costs and tax burden, with reference to population ageing. To what extent is this conceptualization of population ageing as a societal threat – a “time bomb” that would threaten the long-term viability of our society and economy – a valid one?
The BBC News website recently featured a quiz based on Hans Rosling’s TV show, The Truth about Population. Judging by the results, people in Britain have a relatively poor understanding of how much life expectancy has increased over the last few decades. At present, average life expectancy in the world is approximately 70 years. However, 56% of respondents thought that it was 60 years or lower. And 76% of university graduates thought it was 60 years or lower. Only 30% of respondents, and only 20% of university graduates, gave the correct answer of 70 years.
In the last twenty years BRIC countries, that is Brazil, Russia, India, and China, have played an increasingly relevant role as engines of global economic growth. From 1993 to 2007 they grew on average by 5.6% per year and by 5.3% from 2008 to 2012, as production contracted or stagnated in developed economies. Their demographic structure, dominated by people in ‘active age’ , has undoubtedly played an important role in their success. This advantage, however, is destined to rapidly disappear in the next decades as BRIC countries face the challenge of population aging.
Observing contemporary demography trends one might be forgiven for thinking that no previous times have been as radical and fast changing as ours. Demographers have noted with amazement the pace of Iran’s fertility decline in recent years, and we are witnessing unprecedented population ageing and are advised to prepare for radical changes in the welfare states of “old” Europe. When looking to a more distant European past we may find no less amazing societal and demographic changes.
When asked about the minimum legal voting age in the world, your answer would probably be 18 years. You would be right, as this is the average and most common minimum legal voting age across the globe, with only 27 exceptions where it varies between 16 and 21 years. There is only one, very notable and consequential exception: the minimum legal voting age of 25 for the Senate in Italy. The political, societal and economic consequences of this unusual constraint in Italy may well affect the whole of Europe.