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Thread: NZ facing population crisis?

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    MotherBear's Avatar
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    Default NZ facing population crisis?

    [b:b4548445c6]NZ 'facing population crisis' [/b:b4548445c6]
    18 November 2005

    A slight increase in New Zealand's birthrate over the past year is not enough to stave off looming problems from an ageing population, says a demographics expert. According to figures released by Statistics New Zealand today, there were nearly 58,000 lives births registered in the year to September 2005 - a four-year high.

    Some commentators have credited the introduction of paid parental leave for the increase, from 54,000 in June 2002, when the legislation was introduced, to 57,620 in 2005. However, Professor Ian Pool, from the Population Studies Centre at the University of Waikato, said he would be "very wary" about making the connection. While paid parental leave might have had some effect, more family friendly legislation was needed to ensure New Zealand remained viable as a society. The increase was in fact part of "an ongoing trend" for women to defer motherhood until later in life - but this would soon result in declining birth rates again, he said.
    Birth rates fell throughout the 1990s from 60,000 to 56,000, hitting the 15-year low of 54,000 in 2002, and increasing since then. But national projections suggest the mini boom will be short-lived. According to latest figures, birth rates will plummet to about 53,000 by 2011, following the pattern of Australia and Europe. Prof Pool said the number of child-bearing women was also expected to drop over the next five years.

    "I am not denying the possibility that paid parental leave might have added a little tiny bit of a fillip to it, but what's happened over long time is an increase in births to the age group 30-44. At the moment, there are more people in that particular age group, but we are running out of people in that age group shortly, and unless there's a very significant rate change and a rate change back to younger mothers, we will see a decline." At present, New Zealand's birth rate is about 2.0 births per woman, which is slightly below the level required for a population to replace itself without migration (2.1 births per woman).

    So called "sub-replacement fertility" is common among developed countries, including Australia (1.8 births per woman) and England and Wales (1.7). In the September 2005 year, women aged 30-34 had the highest fertility rate (119 births per 1000 women), up from 105 births per 1000 in 1995. Prof Pool said while he welcomed the introduction of paid parental leave, New Zealand was still lagging behind the rest of the developed world when it came to legislation supporting families. "No single measure is going to work on its own," he said.

    In France, across-the-board initiatives, including subsidised childcare, housing support and universal family benefits, have helped ensure that France's birth rate has stayed relatively steady since the late 1970s, while Britain's has continued to go down.

    "One shot has the same sort of impact as a tax cut, which is that everyone runs off and buys a new barbecue and that gives a slight stimulus to the economy, but it doesn't really help develop the country." New Zealand - like most of the English-speaking world - had fallen victim to the ideological trap of "targeting" family policy, he said.

    "Most family policy is directed towards things that nobody can define, such as 'dysfunctional families', and there's a huge apparatus of monitoring that goes around that. In other developed countries in western and northern Europe, the focus is not on a few families whose kids may be running riot, but they are instead asking themselves, 'How can we sustain our society?'."

    While every country had to deal with finite resources, the compliance costs of "targeted assistance" made it a waste of money, he argued. "You have to build this huge bureaucrat apparatus to make sure the wrong people don't get it - I would like to see someone do a study on the compliance cost to the taxpayer of having targeting. With universal benefits, there were no monitoring costs. You don't have to have people with cameras under sole parents' beds to check not with anyone else - it's irrelevant." He said New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was "bang on" when he said that benefits went back into the local community.

    "He's talking about oldies, but it's also true of others - the universal family benefit did not go to parents who flitted off to the Gold Coast to spend it, it went to parents who spent it on milk and groceries and capitalised on family benefit to buy a house; it made a huge difference. We've been sucked into a particular piece of ideology - this is where true political correctness comes in - anyone who questions that is damned, whereas it doesn't fit with the reality in Europe."

    While much of the publicity about New Zealand's ageing population focused on workforce issues and the burden to the health system in the future, Prof Pool said there was a "far more immediate problem" facing New Zealand. The generation of people now in their mid-teens - the "baby blippers" born around 1990 - had been failed so far at every stage in their lives, he said.

    "We have really failed to respond to these people, or responded too late. Around the time these kids were leaving primary school, we finally had enough teachers to teach them. They're in years 10 and 11 at the moment, and they will be moving into universities, which we're running down, and other tertiary institutions around the year 2010. There's going to be an increase of 20 per cent in the age group 15-24, which is an absolutely critical age group and no political party has discussed that issue."

    Unless plans were put in place now to look at education and the future labour market, there would be no support systems in place when it came time for that generation to have children of their own.

    "We need a planned workforce, rather than just running up and down the streets of Edinburgh, saying 'Can you come to New Zealand yesterday?', which is the absolutely idiotic way in which we `plan' our workforce now, including the highly skilled workforce." The last time New Zealand experienced a population "blip", that generation reached working age at the same time that the economy was in a nose-dive.

    "We actually condemned 'the blippers', the youth, to purgatory because we ran a depression on the backs of young people. In the late 1980s, we remodelled the economy without a single concern for human capital issues... I'm not very optimistic that we've necessarily got the will power or the intelligence to do anything about it when this next one comes up." He said New Zealand still had "a window of opportunity" to ensure the next generation had a fighting chance.

    "In 2015 when they start thinking about having babies, we need to make sure that they get to work so we can exploit their talents and they have chance to have children with support and structures in place. Little bits and pieces are good, but we need planning. We damned planning by looking at the failed Soviet economies, but we failed to look at successful countries that did plan."
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    Pulsarblu's Avatar
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    Default NZ facing population crisis?

    Thanks Motherbear for sharing this article. This is another article that shows that we have roles to play in NZ, making up for the shortfall.

    I am sure that New Zealand will be a very nice place to bring up our children compared to many other countries. Hopefully, those initiatives to encourage babies keep on coming!


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    netchicken is offline Senior Member
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    Default NZ facing population crisis?

    Interesting article.

    So much for the paranoia in the 1970's about world overpopulation and starvation.

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    Default NZ facing population crisis?

    [quote:1cc0a29420="netchicken"]So much for the paranoia in the 1970's about world overpopulation and starvation.[/quote:1cc0a29420]
    I suspect that's coming globally, and does exist in parts of the world already. The concerns about low birth rates that I've been hearing are similar to the article above: purely economic. I think we have plenty of people; we just need to redistribute them.
    If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.
    - Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, mid-1800s

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    tottefan is offline Senior Member
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    Default NZ facing population crisis?

    The developed countries are the ones with the population crisis. The developing countries still have very high birth rates so their populations are still rising at a rapid rate.

    The crisis will mainly affect Western Europe/parts of central Europe/Russia/Canada/Australia/New Zealand etc. Some countries already have a declining population, despite immigration.

    The numbers are not the problem. The world has more than enough people. It's to do with the number of people of working age who can support their national economy. Too many old people who can't contribute but need financial assistance will be the problem in future.

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