mfioretti: demography*

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  1. about to experience a dramatic shift

    The demographics of the United States are changing quickly, and there is no simpler way to understand that than to look at the most common age of each race and ethnic group.

    The US Census Bureau recently released its estimates of the US population as of July 2016. Besides an estimate of the total population (325 million), the census also includes estimates of the number of people of every age within each race and ethnicity. For example, the census estimates that, as of July 2016, there were 976,288 Hispanic 15-year-olds in the country.

    Jed Kolko, chief economist of jobs site Indeed, combed through this data and came away with a fascinating insight. He discovered huge variation in the most common age—more technically, the mode—between each major racial group in the US.

    While there are more 57-year-old white people than any other age, the most common age among Asians is 28. For Hispanics, it’s 10. Perhaps most incredibly, the most common age for people in the US identified as mixed race is 0—babies that have not yet reached the age of one.
    https://qz.com/1013714/one-metric-sho...-about-to-experience-a-dramatic-shift
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  2. This is slightly different than what they said in their first paper, where they emphasized that the trend of rising white mortality was “largely accounted for by increasing death rates from drug and alcohol poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis.” That's technically correct — but by focusing only on the increase in death rates, Case and Deaton distracted from the larger picture.

    The alarming fact isn't just that middle-aged whites are dying faster, but also that mortality rates have been dramatically declining in nearly every other rich country. The United States is getting left behind.

    In the last 15 years, a chasm opened up between middle aged whites in America and citizens of European countries like France, Germany and the United Kingdom. While white death rates in America rose slightly, death rates in those other countries continued to plummet. In comparison to what happened in Europe, the situation for American whites starts looks much more dire — and it's a bigger problem than opioids or suicides can explain. It's not just about what went wrong in America, but what stopped going right.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/w...mericans-goes-way-deeper-than-opioids
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2017-03-27)
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  3. Mallach’s non-profit focused on revitalizing distressed neighborhoods, particularly in “legacy cities.” These are towns like St. Louis, Flint, Dayton, and Baltimore, that have experienced population loss and economic contraction in recent years, and suffer from property vacancies, blight, and unemployment. Mallach is interested in understanding which neighborhoods are likely to continue down that path, and which ones will do a 180-degree turn. Right now, he can intuitively make those predictions, based on his observations on neighborhood characteristics like housing stock, median income, and race. But an objective assessment can help confirm or deny his hypotheses.

    That’s where Steif comes in. Having consulted with cities and non-profits on place-based data analytics, Steif has developed a number of algorithms that predict the movement of housing markets using expensive private data from entities like Zillow. Mallach suggested he try his algorithms on Census data, which is free and standardized.

    The phenomenon he tested was ‘endogenous gentrification’—this idea that an increase in home prices moves from wealthy neighborhoods to less expensive ones in its vicinity, like a wave. In his blog post, Steif explains:
    https://www.citylab.com/cityfixer/201...ms-that-predict-gentrification/516945
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  4. there is a darkness spreading over part of our society. And we don’t really understand why.

    There has been a lot of comment, and rightly so, over a new paper by the economists Angus Deaton (who just won a Nobel) and Anne Case, showing that mortality among middle-aged white Americans has been rising since 1999. This deterioration took place while death rates were falling steadily both in other countries and among other groups in our own nation.

    Even more striking are the proximate causes of rising mortality. Basically, white Americans are, in increasing numbers, killing themselves, directly or indirectly. Suicide is way up, and so are deaths from drug poisoning and the chronic liver disease that excessive drinking can cause. We’ve seen this kind of thing in other times and places – for example, in the plunging life expectancy that afflicted Russia after the fall of Communism. But it’s a shock to see it, even in an attenuated form, in America.

    Yet the Deaton-Case findings fit into a well-established pattern. There have been a number of studies showing that life expectancy for less-educated whites is falling across much of the nation. Rising suicides and overuse of opioids are known problems. And while popular culture may focus more on meth than on prescription painkillers or good old alcohol, it’s not really news that there’s a drug problem in the heartland.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/09/opi...air-american-style.html?smid=tw-share
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  5. The idea that we must choose between the planet or people, he told CNA, is a “false choice.” The problem isn’t numbers of people – it’s the amount each person is consuming.

    “The US Environmental Protection Agency reports that in 1960 the United States produced some 88 million tons of municipal waste. In 2010 that number climbed to just under 250 million tons—and it may have been higher had a recession not slowed consumption. This jump reflects an almost 184 percent increase in what Americans throw out even though our population increased by only 60 percent,” he wrote in a blog post about the topic.

    There is a similar trend in carbon emissions, which increase at a faster rate than the population.

    “We can infer from this that individuals (especially in places like the USA) are consuming and wasting more today than we ever have, which gets to what Pope Francis has been telling us about lifestyles, which is consistent with his predecessors,” Patenaude told CNA.

    Climate change has been one of the primary concerns of Pope Francis’ pontificate. While not the first Pope to address such issues, his persistence in addressing the environment has brought a new awareness of the urgency of the issue to other Church leaders.
    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new...CNA+Daily+News%29&utm_term=daily+news
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  6. A decline in oil and gas production would mean a decline in energy inputs into society, a decline in productivity and, hypothetically, a decline in population. If population growth were related to oil production and oil production is beginning to decline, Oil Population will also decline – in other words, its growth curve may change from a slowing logistic curve, to a declining parabolic curve - and therefore a large component of global population will decline more quickly than most people anticipate.

    Mortality rates may increase, as a population grown large through dependence on high quality energy sources now must allocate scarcer resources per person. This is evident in agriculture’s dependence on fossil fuel based fertilisers 15 » . Without them, agricultural productivity decreases and less people can be fed. Human carrying capacity decreases.

    Figure 14 depicts projected world oil production to 2020. These figures are based on conventional crude oil resources and natural gas liquids (CO + NGL). They do not include unconventional oil resources such as shale oil, oil from tar sands, ultra-deep water oil or polar oil. These oil sources are not included because they are much more expensive to extract, in monetary terms but also in energy terms. In other words, a large amount of energy inputs are required to extract energy outputs from say, tar sands in north western Canada. Hence the net energy gain is lower, and these energy sources may not be as important in raising productivity and population ceilings.

    Based on these projections, the 3.2 billion people that are dependent on oil in the sum-of-energies population model are in serious jeopardy in the next fifty years as the world’s remaining oil resources are consumed, and world population could suffer a precipitous decline.
    http://www2.energybulletin.net/node/48677#_Toc227469792
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  7. “The practices the church advocated, such as monogamy, are still the norm in Europe. Consanguineous marriages in contemporary Europe account for less than one percent of the total number of marriages. In contrast, the percentage of such marriages in Muslim, Middle Eastern countries, where we also have particularly good data, is much higher – between twenty to fifty percent. Among the anthropologically defined 356 contemporary societies of Euro-Asia and Africa, there is a large and significant negative correlation between Christianization (for at least 500 years) and the absence of clans and lineages; the level of commercialization, class stratification, and state formation are insignificant.”

    the leaders of the church probably instituted these reproductive reforms for their own gain — get rid of extended families and you reduce the number of family members likely to demand a share of someone’s legacy. in other words, the church might get the loot before some distant kin that the dead guy never met does. (same with not allowing widows to remarry. if a widow remarries, her new husband would inherit whatever wealth she had. h*ck. she might even have some kids with her new husband! but, leave her a widow and, if she has no children, it’s more likely she’ll leave more of her wealth to the church.)

    but, inadvertently, they also seem to have laid the groundwork for the civilized western world. by banning cousin marriage, tribes disappeared. extended familial ties disappeared. all of the genetic bonds in european society were loosened. society became more “corporate” (which is greif’s main point).
    https://hbdchick.wordpress.com/2011/0.../whatever-happened-to-european-tribes
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  8. In the 17th and 18th centuries, settlers emigrated from land-poor France to land-rich Canada. The result was a lower age of marriage. Young men and women no longer had to wait for their parents to hand over the family farm. Land was plentiful, and early family formation much easier.

    This new social reality led to a new biological reality. From one generation to the next there was a steady contraction of the time between age of marriage and age of first birth. Married women—many as young as 15— were getting pregnant faster. The mean age of full reproductive maturity seems to have slowly fallen at a steady rate, apparently through the reproductive success of women who could better exploit the opportunities for early family formation (Milot et al., 2011).

    But what about the homeland of these French settlers? Had that land-poor environment selected for a later onset of full reproductive maturity? That would seem to be a logical inference. Late and non-universal marriage was in fact the pattern throughout Europe west of a line stretching from Trieste to St. Petersburg:

    By 1650, when village reconstitution studies become sufficiently numerous to render the generality of the pattern indubitable, the average age of women at first marriage was twenty-four or over, 7 to 20 per cent of women never married, and the incidence of childbirth out of wedlock was below 3 per cent. This marital pattern restricted fertility massively. A very considerable minority of women remained single and bore no children; those who married bore none for the first ten years of their fecund life-phase, on average. If they had their last child at the age of forty, their entire reproductive careers would span roughly fifteen years, a long time by modern standards but remarkably brief in a pre-transition context. Resulting fertility was less than half the rate that would have been achieved if all women between fifteen and fifty were married. (Seccombe, 1992, p. 184)


    The ‘Western European marriage pattern’ was initially thought to have developed after the Black Death of the mid-14th century. But this belief has been challenged by a study of marriage between 1252 and 1478 in an English community:

    The average age at first marriage in the Lincolnshire Fenland before the Black Death would be 24 years for the woman and 32 years for the man. The wife would die one year before her husband and the marriage would last for about 13 years. The couple could have six children, if their fertility was higher than average, of whom, judging by pedigrees, perhaps three would survive to become adults. After the Black Death the mean age would be 27 for the woman and 32 for the man. The husband would die three years before his wife and the marriage would last about 12 years. Again the couple could have six children, of whom perhaps three would survive to become adult. (Hallam, 1985, p. 66)


    This pattern of late marriage may have been accentuated by the Black Death, but it was already present beforehand. Hallam (1985, p. 56) cites additional evidence for late marriage farther back in 9th-century France. On the estates of the Abbey of St Germain-des-Prés near Paris, about 16.3% of all adults were unmarried. In Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, the figure was 11.5%. Seccombe (1992, p. 94) cites a 9th-century survey of the Church of St Victor of Marseille, where both men and women appear to have married in their mid to late twenties.

    So when did the Western European marriage pattern begin? I suspect its origins lie in the late Neolithic of Western Europe, when farming communities had reached a saturation point. With farmland in short supply, young men and women had to wait their turn before they could marry and have children of their own. And some would never marry.

    What happened to these never-married? They may have turned toward community service of one kind or another. If they couldn’t have children of their own, they would’ve invested their energies in helping others of their community—who were often their kinfolk. In this respect, the Catholic Church may have simply adopted and further developed a cultural pattern that was already present in Western Europe.

    Together with the prohibition of cousin marriage, this pattern of lengthy and sometimes lifelong celibacy paved the way for a future of larger and more open societies where the State, and not one’s clan, would provide collective services. Of course, it wasn’t planned that way. Nothing is planned in cultural or biological evolution. Western Europe simply accumulated a mix of cultural traits that would later make possible the rise of ‘modern society.’

    Did this marriage pattern shape the biology of Western Europeans through natural selection? Was there gene-culture co-evolution? This is likely with respect to the pace of sexual maturation. Keep in mind that the time between menarche and first birth was ten to twelve years on average. Nature abhors a vacuum, and there would have been a tendency to slow the pace of sexual maturation for both biological and psychological traits. Just as land-rich North America selected for successful pregnancy at younger ages, the reverse had probably happened in land-poor Europe.
    http://evoandproud.blogspot.it/2011/1...rn-european-marriage-pattern.html?m=1
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  9. When the general population pushes its limits, “the elite actually enters a golden age, because what they consume is human labor; human labor becomes cheap because there is an oversupply.” As a result, “Immiseration for the population means it’s actually good news for the elites. And this principle works both for the agrarian societies, and for post-industrial societies, although it’s much more complex in postindustrial societies.”

    But the golden age for elites causes their population to grow as well—both through reproduction and through social mobility. As a result, “The class of the wealthy and powerful expands in relation to the whole population,” which eventually creates scarcity for them. In particular, “There are not enough positions, power positions governing, in business and government, to satisfy all elite aspirants. And that’s when inter-elite competition starts to take uglier forms.” That can be measured in terms of “overproduction of law degrees, because that’s a direct route into government, or the overproduction of MBAs,” and, higher up, in the increased competition for House and Senate seats, where the money spent on such contests spirals ever upwards.

    “So the competition intensifies, and when competition intensifies, there are losers.
    http://www.salon.com/2015/11/23/this_..._politics_are_only_going_to_get_worse
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  10. Last week, the UN released updated population figures and projections. I just had a chance to go through them and the great key findings document (PDF, 1MB) that accompanies them.

    But before I dive in, how accurate are these projections? What kind of track record do UN demographers have? The most comprehensive answer I could find was Nico Keilman’s 2001 paper which Hans Rosling refers to in this video. He notes that in 1958, when the UN projected the population in 2000 to be ~6 Billion (it was then 42 years into the future) they ended up being out by less than 5%. The short answer is: these projections are pretty good.

    OK, back to the new data released in 2015: here are some of the trends that stand out for me. Note that I’m using the UN’s regional groupings rather than the World Bank’s.
    http://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/future-world-s-population-4-charts
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