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Demos, bulletin over bevolking en samenleving, jaargang 32, nummer 7, juli / augustus 2016
Special Issue - European Population Conference 2016
TAKEN BY SURPRISE
KÈNE HENKENS, HANNA VAN SOLINGE, MARLEEN DAMMAN & ELLEN DINGEMANS
How older workers struggle with a higher retirement age
Until 2006 the Netherlands, like many other European countries, had a very strong “early retirement culture”. But that is history now. Early exit routes have been closed, and moreover, State Pension Age will increase to 67. Employees and employers need to change their perspectives on retirement in response to pension reforms that have taken place in quick succession. New NIDI research shows how older workers are reacting to the changing pension landscape: many feel they have been taken by surprise and there is a great deal of anger. For a large group of older workers, retiring later is not as easy as it may seem.
JOOP DE BEER
Strong population decline in China
United Nations projections assume that by the end of this century one third of the world population will live in India, China or Nigeria. While population growth in India will slow down and the population size of China will decline, population growth in Nigeria will accelerate. A new NIDI scenario projects less population growth in Nigeria and sharp population decline in China.
EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT MIGRANT FAMILIES
HELGA DE VALK
Migration is one of the major factors causing population change in Europe today. Understanding these changes requires insight in the life courses and family dynamics of migrants. A NIDI team of researchers working on the ERC funded project Families of migrant origin: a life course perspective (FaMiLife) project has investigated the role of international migration on the lives of migrants and their families, both in origin and destination countries. Here are some of the key findings.
THE GENERATIONS AND GENDER PROGRAMME
ANNE GAUTHIER & TOM EMERY
Past, present and future
The Generations and Gender Programme (GGP) is a research infrastructure devoted to the study of the causes and consequences of demographic change, including changes in family dynamics, gender relations and relationships between generations. The GGP was founded in 2000 by a consortium of European institutes, statistical offices and universities under the umbrella of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
INEQUALITY IN DEMOGRAPHIC BEHAVIOUR
AART C. LIEFBROER
How important are parents?
Inequality is on the rise across Western societies. A key aspect of inequality is that the life choices and life chances of individuals depend on their social background. This certainly is true for socio-economic outcomes, like how much you earn and the status of your job. But to what extent is this true for demographic behaviour, like leaving home, marriage, parenthood and divorce?
COLUMN - DEMOGRAPHIC FEARS
LEO VAN WISSEN
Why are demographic developments often surrounded by anxiety? In the sixties the end of the world seemed to be near as a result of the “population bomb”. That fear has not faded, especially when looking at the developments in Africa. Today many western societies fear the consequences of aging for pensions, health care and the economy in general. Many people are also fearful of migration, not to mention the perceived devastating effects of persistent low fertility levels on the vitality of our societies. Related to this is the fear for population decline, which brings us full circle: from fear of explosion to fear of implosion. This anxiety takes on many forms, from well-written reports, articles and essays of scientists and policy analysts in journals and newspapers to massive support for anti-immigration movements and populist parties.
Why is this the case? We love the past and fear the future. Demographic forecasts depict a future society different from today, but we do not like change. We like the world to be in equilibrium and to be stable, and we associate that with the past, whereas we think of the future as chaotic and unstable, and a threat to our wealth and comfort. Of course the world has never been in equilibrium, or stable — we just think it should be. Blame the economists with their equilibrium models, or blame the demographers with their stable population theories, or blame the inert and conservative human nature in general.
Maybe we demographers should rethink the way we present our predictions of the future. The future is an extrapolation of the past, and after all, we survived the past and have come out wealthy and happy so far, haven’t we? So maybe in our future work we should mix some optimism into the presentation of our projections. Aging is not the end of the world, nor immigration, nor population growth nor low fertility, nor population decline. Or is that too scary a thought?
Leo van Wissen is the director of NIDI
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