Demographics

Due to a mix of scarce resources, methodological difficulties and poor incentives, much of the data collected on the world’s poor is either inaccurate or missing. That’s one of the findings of a study being released today by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) at the Cartagena Data Festival in Colombia.

While the trend of falling poverty is genuine, the ODI think that numbers in poverty may be being understated by up to 350 million, more than the entire population of the US. Read more

Guest post by Paul Hodges

The UK’s ageing population is creating major headwinds for economic growth, data published last month Office of National Statistics shows. Read more

Migration from the European Union is a pretty controversial issue in Britain. Particularly in politics: the strength of the anti-EU UK Independence Party and the anxiety it causes for the two major parties is thought to be linked to public antipathy towards the high-levels of migration that followed the accession of eight eastern european countries to the EU in 2004 (EUA8).

Others have pointed out that perhaps something else is going on. The British public tend to overestimate the proportion of the country who are migrants and have been in favour of lower levels of migration for the past 50 years, even when the country was experiencing net emigration. So perhaps migration is just a vehicle for other concerns.

So I thought I would look at the relationship between the number of migrants in an area and public opinion about migration. Read more

 

More people lived in urban than rural areas for the first time ever in 2007. This year it is estimated that 54 per cent of the world’s population live in cities and by 2050 it is predicted to hit 66 per cent, a mirror image of the two-thirds living in rural areas at the mid-point of the twentieth century. This is expected to come about as development fuels mass internal migration in Africa and Asia. The UN makes no effort to standardise individual countries definitions of urban: population numbers, density and the proportion not working in agriculture and other are all used by different statistical offices.

More than half of children born in Britain in 2013 had a mother above the age of 30. For the first time since the government began keeping track. The mean age has been rising since a record low in the mid-1970s, after it fell from 29 just before the second world war. The average used by the Office for National Statistics is standardised to take account of the changes in the age distribution of the whole and allows the trends over time to be understood.

No one knows how many Chinese people live in Europe.

The United Nations estimated Europe’s China-born population at 886,882 in 2010, its most recent count, while Chinese-based social scientists put it somewhere between 2m and 3m.

Why, in the age of big data, is there so much uncertainty where our neighbours are from? Read more

By John Burn-Murdoch and Aleksandra Wisniewska

Scotland voted on Thursday to remain in the United Kingdom, with the pro-union camp securing 55.3 per cent of the vote. Read more

By Paul Hodges

The toy industry is going through difficult times as Lex highlighted recently. Profits at Toys R Us have halved since 2009, whilst Mattel is suffering due to poor sales of Barbie dolls. A dismal Christmas at the UK’s Mothercare led the departure of its chief executive. Read more

Valentina Romei

Elena is a 26 year old Italian woman with a degree in child psychology who has been working in London as a nursery teacher for nearly a year. She moved to the UK after months spent looking in vain for a job in Tuscany, a region where the unemployment rate, at 7.9%, is well below the Italian average of 11.3%.

But Elena is not counted among more than 16,000 Italians that moved to the UK, according to official statistics updated for the FT by the Italian Ministry of Interior. These numbers are based on the registry of Italians living abroad (AIRE). Elena has a vague knowledge of this register but decided not to sign up for fear of losing important rights and services (including healthcare) in her home country. Read more

By Paul Hodges

Two remarkable global demographic developments have occurred since 1950. Yet only recently have their impact on companies and the economy begun to be properly understood.

Life expectancy has risen by 50 per cent since 1950 (red column) to average around 70 years today, due to advances in disease prevention and knowledge about healthier lifestyles.

Total fertility rates have halved over the same period (green shading). The average woman now has only 2.5 children, as increased life expectancy means large families are no longer so essential for economic survival. Read more

Emily Cadman

The new radio series from Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, is an entertaining, accessible look at Britain’s social history – and one that readers of this blog will probably find rather interesting.

(c) Financial Times/Shaun Curry

Sir Andrew opens the first episode declaring “It is about us, not governments”, and that is the theme running through the series. With a mixture of single statistics, and interviews he tries to build a picture of changes in the life of ordinary British people, rather than looking at policy.

With each episode clocking it at around 15 minutes, and the timeframe running from medieval times to the current day, the programme aims for historical sweep, rather than contemporary analysis. Read more

Emily Cadman

After five years of historically low interest rates across the US, UK and eurozone, Wednesday’s vastly improved job forecast from the Bank of England raised the prospect of a return to more normal monetary policy.

A report out today from McKinsey attempts to quantify the impact of years of ultra lose monetary policy has been on the winners – and losers. Whilst there are few surprises in the report, it does attempt to put numbers on the winners and losers.

Unsurprisingly, it is governments that come out on top. The consultancy estimates that between 2007 and 2012 the US, UK and eurozone governments collectively benefited to the tune of $1.6tr from lower borrowing costs and the increased profits from central banks.

For consumers though it is a mixed bag. Read more

Emily Cadman

Beneath Wednesday’s headline estimation the UK’s population will rise by just under 10 million over the next 25 years is a trove of data set to be picked over by statisticians.

Whilst the Office for National Statistics stresses the numbers are not forecasts and do not predict the impact of future policies, the numbers form the basis for a host of policy calculations – notably in health, education, housing and pensions. Here are a few of the key underlying trends: Read more

Kate Allen

He calls it the biggest story of our lifetime – and he’s on a mission to make sure that everybody knows it.

Hans Rosling – rockstar data wrangler, global stats icon, Swedish health professor – will use a one-hour BBC TV programme on Thursday to try to convince us we don’t know what we think we know about the world.

This vital truth: the global population boom is fizzling out. “This is a fact that media have missed. It has failed to communicate,” Rosling told the FT.

The rate of growth of the world’s population accelerated sharply over the past half a century, leading to much rhetoric about over-population and exhaustion of the planet’s resources.

But, as Rosling will argue in tomorrow night’s programme, the world’s population is set to plateau by the end of the century. All that Malthusian rhetoric about the population timebomb? Redundant. Read more

Chinatowns gif

Gentrification and commercial developments are breaking up Chinatowns in US and British cities, squeezing Chinese communities out of the vibrant neighbourhoods that grew up around earlier generations of migrants.

The changing demographics of New York City further highlight this pattern, with Asian communities having sprung up in Flushing and Queens, where they were traditionally focused in Lower Manhattan.

The animated maps above show decadal changes in the spread of localised Chinese and Asian communities in London, New York and San Francisco, created using data from the 2001 and 2011 editions of the UK census and the US censuses of 2000 and 2010. Read more

Chris Cook

Charles, William, George. If all goes to plan, and God does, indeed, save our Kings, Britons now know the names of the men who will be head of state for the 21st century. But Ben Goldacre, the science writer, asked a good (if morbid) question: what chance does any one of us have of being alive when George finally takes to the throne? Thanks to Matthew Fletcher, a senior consultant at Towers Watson, a global actuarial firm, we now know.

You can get your precise numbers here, and read on to see how your odds were calculated

First, here is the likely probability distribution about when he will get under the crown. This makes a few assumptions that the royals age much like the rest of us, will not abdicate and that culottes-free Britons won’t storm Sandringham any time soon.

Again, assuming no chopping and changing, he also worked out the probability

  • that George follows on straight from Elizabeth – 0.1 per cent
  • that George takes over from Charles – 4.7 per cent
  • that George follows William – 88.6 per cent
  • that George is never king – 6.6 per cent

 Read more

By Paul Hodges

Working women supercharged western economic growth from the 1980s, as they created the phenomenon of dual-income households for the first time in history. But today, this trend is reversing as women’s participation rates decline and their earnings plateau relative to men.

This major change risks undermining a key part of the US Federal Reserve’s strategy, which assumes that reducing the US unemployment rate to 6.5 per cent will help restore economic growth. The chart shows the reversal now underway:

 Read more