Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Demographics: What We Know Is Wrong

I just read a fascinating article at The Wilson Quarterly on world demographics. I highly recommend reading the whole article to get a vastly different picture of world population dynamics than we've been talking about in recent years.

For those of you who are still here and not reading the article like I told you to, here are some highlights:

  • "In 2050, according to United Nations projections, it is possible that nearly as many babies will be born in the United States as in China. Indeed, the population of the world’s current demographic colossus will be shrinking."
  • "In Russia, the effects of declining fertility are amplified by a phenomenon so extreme that it has given rise to an ominous new ­term—­hypermortality. As a result of the rampant spread of maladies such as HIV/AIDS and alcoholism and the deterioration of the Russian ­health ­care system, says a 2008 report by the UN Development Program, “mortality in Russia is 3–5 times higher for men and twice as high for women” than in other countries at a comparable stage of development. The report—which echoes earlier findings by demographers such as the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Murray ­Feshbach—­predicts that within little more than a decade the ­working-­age population will be shrinking by up to one million people annually. Russia is suffering a demographic decline on a scale that is normally associated with the effects of a major ­war."
  • "[B]irthrates of Muslim women in Europe—and around the world—have been falling significantly for some time. ...These sharp reductions in fertility among Muslim immigrants reflect important cultural shifts, which include universal female education, rising living standards, the inculcation of local mores, and widespread availability of contraception. Broadly speaking, birthrates among immigrants tend to rise or fall to the local statistical norm within two ­generations. The decline of Muslim birthrates is a global phenomenon."
  • "[T]he total depen­d­ency ratios of the 21st century are going to look remarkably similar to those of the 1960s. In the United States, the most onerous year for dependency was 1965, when there were 95 dependents for every 100 adults between the ages of 20 and 64. That occurred be­cause “dependents” includes people both younger and older than working age. By 2002, there were only 49 dependents for every 100 ­working-­age Americans. By 2025 there are projected to be 80, still well below the peak of 1965. The difference is that while most dependents in the 1960s were young, with their working and saving and contributing lives ahead of them, most of the dependents of 2009 are older, with more dependency still to come. But the point is clear: There is nothing outlandish about having almost as many dependents as working ­adults."

There's more, but that should be enough to pique your interest.

Comments? Agree? Disagree? Implications?


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