Arquivo da tag: Demografia

Extreme weather: Is it all in your mind? (USA Today)

Thomas M. Kostigen, Special for USA TODAY9:53 a.m. EDT October 17, 2015

Weather is not as objective an occurrence as it might seem. People’s perceptions of what makes weather extreme are influenced by where they live, their income, as well as their political views, a new study finds.

There is a difference in both seeing and believing in extreme weather events, according to the study in the journal Environmental Sociology.

“Odds were higher among younger, female, more educated, and Democratic respondents to perceive effects from extreme weather than older, male, less educated, and Republican respondents,” said the study’s author, Matthew Cutler of the University of New Hampshire.

There were other correlations, too. For example, people with lower incomes had higher perceptions of extreme weather than people who earned more. Those who live in more vulnerable areas, as might be expected, interpret the effects of weather differently when the costs to their homes and communities are highest.

Causes of extreme weather and the frequency of extreme weather events is an under-explored area from a sociological perspective. Better understanding is important to building more resilient and adaptive communities. After all, why prepare or take safety precautions if you believe the weather isn’t going to be all that bad or occur all that often?

The U.S. Climate Extremes Index, compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows a significant rise in extreme weather events since the 1970s, the most back-to-back years of extremes over the past decade since 1910, and all-time record-high levels clocked in 1998 and 2012.

“Some recent research has demonstrated linkages between objectively measured weather, or climate anomalies, and public concern or beliefs about climate change,” Cutler notes. “But the factors influencing perceptions of extreme or unusual weather events have received less attention.”

Indeed, there is a faction of the public that debates how much the climate is changing and which factors are responsible for such consequences as global warming.

Weather, on the other hand, is a different order of things: it is typically defined in the here and now or in the immediate future. It also is largely confined, because of its variability, to local or regional areas. Moreover, weather is something we usually experience directly.

Climate is a more abstract concept, typically defined as atmospheric conditions over a 30-year period.

When weather isn’t experiential, reports are relied upon to gauge extremes. This is when beliefs become more muddied.

“The patterns found in this research provide evidence that individuals experience extreme weather in the context of their social circumstances and thus perceive the impacts of extreme weather through the lens of cultural and social influences. In other words, it is not simply a matter of seeing to believe, but rather an emergent process of both seeing and believing — individuals experiencing extreme weather and interpreting the impacts against the backdrop of social and economic circumstances central to and surrounding their lives,” Cutler concludes.

Sophocles said, “what people believe prevails over the truth.” The consequences of disbelief come at a price in the context of extreme weather, however, as damage, injury, and death are often results.

Too many times do we hear about people being unprepared for storms, ignoring officials’ warnings, failing to evacuate, or engaging in reckless behavior during weather extremes.

There is a need to draw a more complete picture of “weather prejudice,” as I’ll call it, in order to render more practical advice about preparing, surviving, and recovering from what is indisputable: extreme weather disasters to come.

Thomas M. Kostigen is the founder of TheClimateSurvivalist.com and a New York Times bestselling author and journalist. He is the National Geographic author of “The Extreme Weather Survival Guide: Understand, Prepare, Survive, Recover” and the NG Kids book, “Extreme Weather: Surviving Tornadoes, Tsunamis, Hailstorms, Thundersnow, Hurricanes and More!” Follow him @weathersurvival, or email kostigen@theclimatesurvivalist.com.

Mudanças climáticas de longo prazo provocam mais migrações do que os desastres naturais (O Globo)

JC e-mail 4976, de 24 de junho de 2014

Aumento da temperatura é a principal razão de deslocamentos

Quatro meses atrás, o vulcão Sinabung entrou em erupção na Indonésia, esvaziando as aldeias vizinhas, cobertas de cinzas. Cerca de 100 mil pessoas deixaram suas casas, mas a grande maioria voltou semanas depois. Esse é um retrato de como um desastre natural espanta uma população sem afugentá-la definitivamente. Agora, um estudo das universidades americanas de Princeton e Califórnia e do Escritório Nacional de Pesquisa Econômica dos Estados Unidos afirma que as mudanças climáticas, que ocorrem a longo prazo, provocam mais migrações do que as catástrofes isoladas.

Segundo os pesquisadores, a temperatura e o índice de chuvas são os principais motivadores para as migrações definitivas. Com o avanço dos eventos extremos nas próximas décadas, cada vez mais áreas vão se tornar inabitáveis, e o contingente dos chamados refugiados climáticos deve explodir.

No estudo, publicado na revista “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, os cientistas acompanharam por 15 anos o deslocamento de sete mil famílias da Indonésia. O país, que é o maior arquipélago do mundo, tem uma população de cerca de 250 milhões de pessoas. Aproximadamente 40% dependem da agricultura, e muitos vivem em áreas costeiras. São regiões altamente vulneráveis ao aumento do nível do mar e outros efeitos ligados às mudanças climáticas.

DESERTIFICAÇÃO É OUTRA CAUSA
Com base nos registros, a pesquisa mostrou que o número de refugiados climáticos é maior em locais onde cresceu a temperatura média do país, que é de 25,1 graus Celsius. Segundo o estudo, isso ocorreu porque o aumento dos termômetros compromete o rendimento das culturas agrícolas. As chuvas teriam um papel mais tímido nas migrações definitivas.

Vice-presidente do Painel Intergovernamental de Mudanças Climáticas, Suzana Kahn concorda com os resultados do estudo.

– Uma população pode acreditar que um episódio isolado, como um vulcão, logo vai se resolver – lembra Suzana, que também é professora da Coppe/UFRJ. – Mas as mudanças climáticas vão obrigar que estas pessoas se retirem definitivamente de suas regiões. É um fenômeno já visto nos pequenos países do Pacífico, que já negociam uma migração definitiva para a Nova Zelândia, por causa do aumento do nível do mar.

A desertificação no Norte da África também provoca a migração de milhares de pessoas para o Sul da Europa. Esse deslocamento tem levado ao crescimento de legendas de extrema-direita, hostis à chegada dos refugiados climáticos.

– A migração de grandes populações também tem consequências econômicas – ressalta Suzana. – Na Europa, por exemplo, a resistência aos africanos é grande porque eles aceitam condições de trabalho muito desfavoráveis. No Ártico, o derretimento de geleiras proporciona a escavação de novos poços de petróleo, o que atrairia muitas pessoas e empresas.

(Renato Grandelle / O Globo)
http://oglobo.globo.com/sociedade/ciencia/mudancas-climaticas-de-longo-prazo-provocam-mais-migracoes-do-que-os-desastres-naturais-12988197#ixzz35ZVsrLCU

What caused the baby boom in the American southwest 1500 years ago? (The Christian Science Monitor)

By Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer / July 1, 2014

For hundreds of years, Native Americans in the southwestern United States had a prolonged baby boom — which would average out to each woman giving birth to more than six children, a new study finds. That baby streak, however, ended a little before the Spanish colonized the Americas.

“Birthrates were as high, or even higher, than anything we know in the world today,” said study co-author Tim Kohler, an archaeologist and anthropologist at Washington State University.

The precolonial baby boom was likely fueled by Native Americans in the region switching from a nomadic, hunter-gathering lifestyle to a settled farming way of life, Kohler said. [Images: Maya Maize Secrets Revealed In Tikal Soil]

Skeletal analysisThe researchers analyzed thousands of skeletal remains from hundreds of sites across the Four Corners region of the Southwest (the area that now makes up Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado) dating from 900 B.C. until the beginning of the colonial period in the early 1500s. (Most sites were excavated decades ago, and most of the remains have been returned to their tribes, Kohler said.)

By estimating the fraction of the population between ages 5 and 19 (young children’s remains are too poorly preserved to include in the calculation), the researchers could get a rough estimate of the birthrate, or the number of babies born per year for every 1,000 people.

The birthrate slowly increased until about A.D. 500, and then rose more quickly and stayed high until A.D. 1300. The birthrate, about 0.049 in a year, was akin to that in modern-day Niger, where every woman has, on average, 6.89 children.

The rise in birthrate coincided with shifts in agricultural production. Though maize was first cultivated around Mexico City nearly 8,000 years ago and reached the Southwest by about 2000 B.C., most Native Americans in the region were nomadic, so they weren’t farming it.

Then, in A.D. 500, selective breeding led to plumper maize seeds, and the crop also became more productive. This shift also coincided with a transition to a more settled way of life.

“We begin to see much more substantial dwellings, indicating that people are spending a much longer period of time in specific places,” with shifts from wood to stone structures, Kohler told Live Science.

The number of dwellings also increased around this time period.

“We go from small hamlets to large villages in space of time from A.D. 600 to A.D. 800,” Kohler said.

Birthrates leveled off around A.D. 1100 and declined precipitously after A.D. 1300. It’s not clear exactly why that happened, but a severe drought in the 1100s may have fueled more conflict, eventually leading to a sudden collapse in the population, the researchers noted.

Nomad vs. agriculturalist

The shift to agriculture could have spurred a baby boom in multiple ways.

A nomadic lifestyle could mean picking up camp and trekking long distances every month — no easy feat for a woman if she had more than one child to carry. At the same time, hunter-gatherers tend to breastfeed their children longer because they have few appropriate “weaning foods.” The high-caloric demand of the lifestyle, combined with prolonged breastfeeding, may have suppressed ovulation in women, leading to fewer children, Kohler said.

In contrast, a woman who had to walk only a small distance to tend the fields could take care of multiple dependent children, and could also wean her children sooner by feeding them a maize porridge, Kohler said.

The findings were published today (June 30) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Follow Tia Ghose on Twitter and Google+. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

Top 10 Mysteries of the First Humans History’s 10 Most Overlooked Mysteries In Photos: Human Skeleton Sheds Light on First AmericansCopyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Angry White Men and Aggrieved Entitlement (The Society Pages)

by John ZieglerNov 18, 2013, at 09:00 am

From Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his controversial raids on and detentions of immigrants to Rush Limbaugh and his rhetoric about “feminazis,” some white men, those sociologist Michael Kimmelterms “angry white men,” are resisting perceived challenges against their masculinity and historical experiences of privilege.

In his new book Angry White Men, Kimmel has interviewed white men across the country to gauge their feelings about their socioeconomic status in a sluggish and globalizing economy as well as the legal and social advances made by women, people of color, GLBT individuals, and others. Kimmel has coined the term “aggrieved entitlement” to describe these men’s defensiveness and aggravation that both “their” country and sense of self are being taken away from them. Kimmel writes in the Huffington Post,

Raised to believe that this was ‘their’ country, simply by being born white and male, they were entitled to a good job by which they could support a family as sole breadwinners, and to deference at home from adoring wives and obedient children…Theirs is a fight to restore, to reclaim more than just what they feel entitled to socially or economically – it’s also to restore their sense of manhood, to reclaim that sense of dominance and power to which they also feel entitled.

+

Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United States

Global Environmental Change

Volume 21, Issue 4, October 2011, Pages 1163–1172

Paper

Abstract

We examine whether conservative white males are more likely than are other adults in the U.S. general public to endorse climate change denial. We draw theoretical and analytical guidance from the identity-protective cognition thesis explaining the white male effect and from recent political psychology scholarship documenting the heightened system-justification tendencies of political conservatives. We utilize public opinion data from ten Gallup surveys from 2001 to 2010, focusing specifically on five indicators of climate change denial. We find that conservative white males are significantly more likely than are other Americans to endorse denialist views on all five items, and that these differences are even greater for those conservative white males who self-report understanding global warming very well. Furthermore, the results of our multivariate logistic regression models reveal that the conservative white male effect remains significant when controlling for the direct effects of political ideology, race, and gender as well as the effects of nine control variables. We thus conclude that the unique views of conservative white males contribute significantly to the high level of climate change denial in the United States.

People of color live in neighborhoods with more air pollution than whites, groundbreaking U.S. study shows (Science Daily)

Date: April 15, 2014

Source: University of Minnesota

Summary: A first-of-its-kind study has found that on average in the U.S., people of color are exposed to 38 percent higher levels of nitrogen dioxide outdoor air pollution compared to white people. The health impacts from the difference in levels between whites and nonwhites found in the study are substantial. For example, researchers estimate that if nonwhites breathed the lower NO2 levels experienced by whites, it would prevent 7,000 deaths from heart disease alone among nonwhites each year.

This shows the difference in population-weighted mean NO2 concentrations (ppb) between lower-income nonwhites and higher-income whites for U.S. cities (448 urban areas). Credit: University of Minnesota

A first-of-its-kind study by researchers at the University of Minnesota found that on average in the U.S., people of color are exposed to 38 percent higher levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) outdoor air pollution compared to white people.

Nitrogen dioxide comes from sources like vehicle exhaust and power plants. Breathing NO2 is linked to asthma symptoms and heart disease. The Environmental Protection Agency has listed it as one of the seven key air pollutants it monitors. The researchers studied NO2 levels in urban areas across the country and compared specific areas within the cities based on populations defined in the U.S. Census as “nonwhite” or “white.”

The health impacts from the difference in levels between whites and nonwhites found in the study are substantial. For example, researchers estimate that if nonwhites breathed the lower NO2 levels experienced by whites, it would prevent 7,000 deaths from heart disease alone among nonwhites each year.

The study entitled “National patterns in environmental injustice and inequality: Outdoor NO2 air pollution in the United States” was published in the April 15 issue of PLOS ONE, a leading peer-reviewed scientific journal.

“We were quite shocked to find such a large disparity between whites and nonwhites related to air pollution,” said Julian Marshall, a civil engineering associate professor in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering and co-author of the study. “Our study provides a great baseline to track over time on important issues of environmental injustice and inequality in our country.”

Other U.S. studies have documented disparities in exposures to environmental risks, including air pollution, but this research goes beyond previous studies of specific cities, communities or regions within the nation. This new study is the first to use satellite observations, measurements by the Environmental Protection Agency, and maps of land uses to explore disparities in exposure to air pollution for the U.S. nationwide, including both rural and urban areas, with comparisons by city, county, state and region.

The new research builds on a recently published University of Minnesota study that used satellite data and land use information to look at nitrogen dioxide pollution throughout the continental United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii), including all 448 urban areas defined by the U.S. Census. In the present study, the researchers overlaid the pollution information with U.S. Census data about where people live. The results provide groundbreaking evidence of environmental disparities nationwide.

The researchers found that in most areas, lower-income nonwhites are more exposed than higher-income whites, and on average, race matters more than income in explaining differences in NO2 exposure. They also found that New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois had the largest exposure gaps between whites and nonwhites, irrespective of income. The urban areas with the largest exposure gaps between whites and nonwhites were New York/Newark, Philadelphia and Bridgeport/Stamford, Conn.

The 15 states with the largest exposure gaps between whites and nonwhites were (from highest disparity to lower):

  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island
  • Massachusetts
  • California
  • Wisconsin
  • Connecticut
  • Missouri
  • Ohio
  • Kentucky
  • Indiana
  • Minnesota

Note: The list above reflects disparities by race alone, irrespective of income. The map below reflects disparities by race-income.

The 15 urban areas* with the largest exposure gaps between whites and nonwhites were (from highest disparity to lower):

  • New York–Newark; NY–NJ–CT
  • Philadelphia; PA–NJ–DE–MD
  • Bridgeport–Stamford; CT–NY
  • Boston; MA–NH–RI
  • Providence; RI–MA
  • Detroit; MI
  • Los Angeles–Long Beach–Santa Ana; CA
  • New Haven; CT
  • Worcester; MA–CT
  • Springfield; MA–CT
  • Rochester; NY
  • Chicago; IL–IN
  • Birmingham; AL
  • Hartford; CT
  • Milwaukee; WI

* As defined by the U.S. Census

Note: The list above reflects disparities by race alone, irrespective of income. The map below reflects disparities by race-income group.

Visit the University of Minnesota Marshall Research Group website for the full listing of states and urban areas studied.

“Our findings are of broad interest to researchers, policy makers and city planners,” said Lara Clark, co-author of the study and civil engineering Ph.D. student in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering. “The next step in the research would be to look at why this disparity occurs and what we can do to solve it.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Lara P. Clark, Dylan B. Millet, Julian D. Marshall. National Patterns in Environmental Injustice and Inequality: Outdoor NO2 Air Pollution in the United StatesPLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (4): e94431 DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0094431

Batalha contra nova pandemia de câncer no Sul (IPS) 

17/4/2014 – 10h49

por Kanya D’Almeida, da IPS

paciente Batalha contra nova pandemia de câncer no Sul

Nações Unidas, 17/4/2014 – Poucos no mundo podem alardear que o câncer não os tocou. Neste momento, milhões enfrentam uma batalha pessoal contra a doença e muitos mais estão sentados juntos a seres queridos que lutam por sua vida, visitando amigos que se recuperam de uma quimioterapia ou averiguando sobre os últimos tratamentos para seus familiares. O prognóstico da organização líder em pesquisa sobre câncer não indica melhorias. O Informe Mundial do Câncer 2014 diz que nos próximos 20 anos se espera que os novos casos aumentem 70%, chegando a 25 milhões em 2025.

Produzido a cada cinco anos pela Agência Internacional para a Pesquisa sobre o Câncer (Iarc), da Organização Mundial da Saúde, o informe de 632 páginas aponta que os novos casos passaram de 12,7 milhões em 2008 para 14,1 milhões em 2012. Neste último ano, o mundo experimentou o recorde de 8,2 milhões de mortes por câncer. Os países em desenvolvimento estão entre a cruz e a espada. Por um lado, seguem sofrendo uma grande presença de tipos de câncer associados a infecções, como o de colo uterino, estômago e fígado, que são relacionados à pobreza e à falta de água potável, vacinas, centros de detecção precoce e opções adequadas de tratamento.

Por outro lado, os tumores relacionados com estilos de vida opulentos, como o de pulmão, mama e intestino grosso – pelo elevado consumo de tabaco, álcool e alimentos pesados – também estão dizimando as fileiras crescentes das classes médias desses países.

A África, por exemplo, experimenta uma “alta alarmante” do tabagismo, e a previsão é que a quantidade de adultos fumantes passe de “77 milhões para 572 milhões até 2100, se não forem aplicadas novas políticas”, afirma a Sociedade Norte-Americana do Câncer. O sul-africano Evan Blecher, diretor do programa internacional de pesquisa sobre controle do tabaco dessa entidade, atribui esse aumento a múltiplos fatores. Um dos principais é o crescimento econômico.

“As economias africanas estão crescendo mais rapidamente e de forma mais sustentada do que nos últimos 50 anos”, afirmou Blecher à IPS, da Cidade do Cabo, sua cidade natal. “O crescimento econômico impulsiona o consumo de tabaco porque há mais dinheiro. Alguns dos países onde vemos maior aumento do tabagismo são Angola, República Democrática do Congo, Etiópia, Madagascar, Moçambique, Senegal e Nigéria, que são os de maior crescimento econômico da África e do mundo”, acrescentou.

Esta dupla carga, de tumores da pobreza e da opulência, paira sobre sistemas de saúde que já estão sob pressão. A Agência Internacional de Energia Atômica (AIEA) informa que os países de renda média e baixa, onde residem 85% da população mundial, possuem apenas 4.400 máquinas de megavoltagem, o que representa menos de 35% das instalações mundiais de radioterapia. A AIEA também afirma que 23 países com mais de um milhão de habitantes cada um, a maioria na África, não têm um só aparelho de radioterapia.

R. Sankaranarayanan, consultor especial da Iarc, pontuou à IPS que a brecha oncológica não separa apenas as nações em diferentes graus de desenvolvimento, mas as populações dentro delas. “A enorme disparidade de sobrevivência de câncer de mama entre as zonas rurais e urbanas de China, Índia e Tailândia, ou entre as populações negras e brancas dos Estados Unidos, é um bom exemplo”, ressaltou. Pesquisadores e médicos dos Estados Unidos dizem que há uma diferença de 8,8% nas taxas de mortalidade por câncer de mama das mulheres negras para as brancas.

Como a obesidade é um grave problema para as comunidades afro-norte-americanas (afeta 50% dos adultos negros e 35% dos brancos), não surpreende que elas tenham maior incidência de câncer colo-retal, associado ao consumo excessivo de alimentos processados e pouco saudáveis.

Na Índia, onde foram registrados mais de um milhão de novos casos em 2012 e quase um milhão de mortes por alguma forma de câncer, a grande diversidade de estilos de vida se mostra como o fator decisivo da brecha oncológica. Por exemplo, a maior incidência de câncer se registrou no Estado de Mizorán, uma das regiões de maior crescimento econômico, enquanto a menor ocorreu em Barshi, distrito rural do Estado de Maharashtra, onde boa parte da população se dedica à atividade agrícola.

Silvana Luciani, assessora em prevenção e controle do câncer da Organização Pan-Americana da Saúde, observou que as disparidades dos serviços de saúde dentro da região também resultam em taxas de mortalidade desequilibradas. “Na América Central a mortalidade por câncer de colo uterino é de 15 ou 18 mortes por cem mil pessoas, enquanto na América do Norte é de duas por cem mil”, detalhou à IPS. “Isso se deve a programas de detecção como o exame papanicolau que são realizados há muito tempo na América do Norte e têm uma qualidade muito maior do que na América Central, onde os serviços de saúde estão fragmentados”, acrescentou.

Sankaranarayanan destacou que países como Coreia do Sul, Turquia, Malásia, Índia, Gana, Marrocos, Brasil, Chile, Colômbia, Costa Rica e México “estão adotando sistemas de saúde de atenção universal ou seguros nacionais de saúde dirigidos às populações mais pobres”. Mas “as populações cada vez mais envelhecidas e o surgimento de tecnologias oncológicas muito caras aumentam as pressões sobre esses serviços”, enfatizou.

Uma barreira ao desenvolvimento

O câncer de pulmão encabeça a lista de diagnósticos, com 1,8 milhão, ou quase 13% do total mundial. Em seguida vem o câncer de mama, com 1,7 milhão, enquanto o que afeta o intestino grosso representa 9,7%.

O mais mortal continua sendo o de pulmão, que mata 1,6 milhão de pessoas por ano, enquanto outras 800 mil falecem por câncer de fígado e 700 mil por câncer de estômago. Esta mortandade é acompanhada de custos astronômicos dos serviços de saúde, que em 2010 chegaram a US$ 1,6 trilhão.

A incidência cresce em países de renda média e baixa que não têm nem a experiência nem os recursos financeiros para enfrentar a situação. De todos os casos diagnosticados, 60% correspondem a Ásia, África e América do Sul, mesmas regiões onde ocorrem 70% das mortes. Envolverde/IPS

Brazil’s Changing Religious Landscape (Pew Forum)

Roman Catholics in Decline, Protestants on the Rise

ANALYSIS July 18, 2013
brazil-300x200

Since the Portuguese colonized Brazil in the 16th century, it has been overwhelmingly Catholic. And today Brazil has more Roman Catholics than any other country in the world – an estimated 123 million.1 But the share of Brazil’s overall population that identifies as Catholic has been dropping steadily in recent decades, while the percentage of Brazilians who belong to Protestant churches has been rising. Smaller but steadily increasing shares of Brazilians also identify with other religions or with no religion at all, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Brazilian census data.

brazil-1Brazil’s total population more than doubled over the last four decades, increasing from approximately 95 million to more than 190 million. Between 1970 and 2000, the number of Catholics in the country rose even though the share of the population that identifies as Catholic was falling. But from 2000 to 2010, both the absolute number and the percentage of Catholics declined; Brazil’s Catholic population fell slightly from 125 million in 2000 to 123 million a decade later, dropping from 74% to 65% of the country’s total population.

brazil-2The number of Brazilian Protestants, on the other hand, continued to grow in the most recent decade, rising from 26 million (15%) in 2000 to 42 million (22%) in 2010. “Protestant” is broadly defined here to include Brazilians who identify with historically mainline and evangelical Protestant denominations as well as those who belong to Pentecostal denominations, such as the Assemblies of God and the Foursquare Church. It also includes members of independent, neo-Pentecostal churches, such as the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God and the God is Love Pentecostal Church, both of which were founded in Brazil. But in keeping with categories in the Brazilian census, it does not include Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In addition, the number of Brazilians belonging to other religions – including Afro-Brazilian faiths such as Candomblé and Umbanda; spiritist movements like the one related to the late Chico Xavier; and global religions such as Buddhism and Islam – has been climbing. About 2 million Brazilians belonged to these other religions in 1970. By 2000, adherents of religions other than Catholicism and Protestantism numbered about 6 million (4% of Brazil’s population), and as of 2010, the group had grown to 10 million (5%).

Finally, the number of Brazilians with no religious affiliation, including agnostics and atheists, also has been growing. In 1970, fewer than 1 million Brazilians had no religious affiliation. By 2000, that figure had jumped to 12 million (7%). In the most recent decade, the unaffiliated continued to expand, topping 15 million (8%) in Brazil’s 2010 census.

Trends Within Brazilian Protestantism

brazil-3The growth of Pentecostalism in Brazil has been particularly pronounced. In Brazil’s 1991 census, about 6% of the population belonged to Pentecostal or neo-Pentecostal churches. By 2010, that share had grown to 13%. Meanwhile, the percentage of Brazilians who identify with historical Protestant denominations, such as Baptists and Presbyterians, has remained fairly steady over the last two decades at about 3% to 4% of the population. The Brazilian census also contains a third category of Protestants, labeled “unclassified.” That group has grown from less than 1% of Brazil’s population in 1991 to 5% in 2010.2

The rapid growth of Pentecostals and other Protestants in Brazil cannot be explained fully by demographic factors, such as fertility rates or immigration. Brazilian census data from 2000 indicate that total fertility rates for Protestants are about the same as for Catholics.3 In addition, less than 1% of Brazil’s population is foreign born – too small a percentage for immigration to make a significant difference in the religious composition of the country as a whole.

Rather, the main factor in the growth of Protestantism in Brazil appears to be religious switching, or movement from one religious group to another. The country’s decennial census does not ask Brazilians whether they have switched religions. But a 2006 Pew Research survey of Brazilian Pentecostals found that nearly half (45%) had converted from Catholicism.4

Catholics have decreased as a share of Brazil’s population while Protestants have risen among men and women, young and old, people with and without a high school education, and those living in both urban and rural areas. But the changes have been particularly pronounced among younger Brazilians and city dwellers, as shown in the tables below. For example, the percentage of Brazilians ages 15-29 who identify as Catholic has dropped 29 percentage points since 1970, and the share of Catholics in Brazil’s urban population has fallen 28 points.

brazil-4(1)brazil-5Brazilian Catholics tend to be older and live in rural areas, while Protestants tend to be slightly younger and live in urban areas. Brazilians with no religious affiliation also are younger, on average, than the population as a whole and are more likely to reside in urban settings. The remainder of this report examines these demographic patterns in more detail.

Differences in the Religious Affiliation of Brazilians

Age

Generational change has contributed to the declining number of Catholics in Brazil. As of 2010, nearly three-quarters (73%) of Brazilians ages 70 and older are Catholic, while fewer than two-thirds (63%) of those ages 15-29 identify as Catholic.

brazil-4Younger cohorts are somewhat more likely than older Brazilians to be Protestant or to have no religious affiliation. As of 2010, for example, Protestants make up more than a fifth (22%) of Brazilians ages 15-29, compared with 17% of those 70 and older. And 10% of 15-to 29-year-olds had no religious affiliation in 2010, while just 4% of Brazilians ages 70 and older are unaffiliated.

Urban Versus Rural

Brazil’s overall population has become increasingly urban. In 1970, about half (56%) of Brazilians lived in urban areas; as of 2010, more than eight-in-ten (84%) do. As a result, all of Brazil’s religious groups have become increasingly urban – but some more so than others.

brazil-6In general, Catholics are more likely than other religious groups to live in rural areas. According to the 2010 census, more than three-quarters (78%) of Brazilians who live in rural areas are Catholic, compared with roughly six-in-ten (62%) urban dwellers.5

In 1970, the religious profiles of rural and urban residents were very similar, but the differences have become more pronounced in recent decades. Today, Brazil’s cities are home to a much lower share of Catholics than the country’s rural areas. For example, less than half (46%) of the population of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second-largest city, is affiliated with the Catholic Church.6

Gender

According to the 2010 census, about equal percentages of Brazilian men (65%) and women (64%) are Catholic. By contrast, a slightly higher percentage of women (24%) than men (20%) identify as Protestant, while a slightly higher share of men (10%) than women (6%) have no religious affiliation. Similar shares of men (5%) and women (6%) belong to other religions.

brazil-8These gender patterns have become more distinct over time. For instance, the religious profiles of men and women were quite similar in the 1970s and 1980s. But over the past two decades, the share of women who are Protestant has ticked up, as has the share of men who are religiously unaffiliated.

Education  

Looking at two education levels – completion of high school and less education – there are only minor differences in the percentages of Catholics, Protestants and the unaffiliated in each group. The notable exception is that a greater share of adults who have completed high school belong to other religions (9%) compared with those who have less education (4%). This is particularly true of Brazilians belonging to spiritist movements. As of 2010, the share of spiritists who have completed high school (70%) is almost twice as high as in the general public (36%).

brazil-7Methodology

The census estimates for 1970, 1980, 1991 and 2000 were drawn from a microdata subsample of the Brazilian census downloaded from the IPUMS-International data service at the Minnesota Population Center. All microdata estimates use weights provided by IPUMS. Estimates for 2010 were downloaded as tables from the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatistica (IBGE). Comparable microdata for 2010 are not yet publicly available.

The classification of religious groups in this report is based on the classification schema used by the IBGE, though the nomenclature is somewhat different. For example, the term “Protestant” is used in this report to refer to the IBGE’s “Evangélicos” category, in order to avoid confusion with the North American understanding of the word “evangelical.” As noted in the report, the broad Protestant category includes historically mainline denominations; historically evangelical denominations; Pentecostal denominations; and independent, neo-Pentecostal churches. But it does not include Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, which the Brazilian census classifies as “other religions.”

There are minor differences between the estimated size of Brazil’s Catholic population in this report and previously published Pew Research estimates. Specifically, Pew Research’s February 2013 report “The Global Catholic Population” estimated the total number of all Catholics in Brazil at about 126 million. The current report focuses solely on Roman Catholics, who number about 123 million in Brazil as of 2010. The difference of 3 million is partly accounted for by independent Catholics, such as members of the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church, who account for about 700,000 people. The remainder (about 2.3 million) is due to a small number of missing responses in the census and an adjustment of younger age groups.

The age group adjustment reflects the fact that parents sometimes are hesitant to report a religious affiliation for an infant even though they will claim a religion for the child when he or she is slightly older. For instance, the 2000 Brazilian census reported that 11% of children ages 0-4 were unaffiliated. But in the 2010 census, only 8% of the same birth cohort (then 10-14 years old) was unaffiliated. While some of this change may be explained by mortality and migration, it is at least partly due to parents being more willing to describe their older children as Christians. In order to compensate for this measurement bias, previous Pew Research reports applied the religious composition of older children (5-9 years old) to infants and young children (0-4 years old) in Brazil. To maintain consistency with Brazilian census figures for 2010, however, no such adjustment was made in this report.

If an adjustment was made to compensate for low religious affiliation rates in the youngest cohort (0-4 years old) of Brazilians, it would slightly raise the number of people in each religious group as of 2010, including Catholics. It also would slightly decrease the size of the unaffiliated group. But the overall trends described in this report – including the rising share of Protestants and declining share of Roman Catholics in Brazil’s population – would not change.

This report is part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project, an effort funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation to analyze religious change and its impact on societies around the world.


Footnotes:

1 For more information on the countries with the largest number of Catholics, see the Pew Research Center’s 2013 report “The Global Catholic Population.” Estimates in this report for the number of Catholics differ slightly from previous reports. For more information on these differences, see this report’s methodology(return to text)

2 The “unclassified” category is from the Brazilian census. Its growth could be due to a rising number of groups that are both historically Protestant and Pentecostal, or to other difficulties in classifying Protestant groups. It may be possible to break down this category more accurately once microdata for the 2010 census are publicly available.(return to text)

3 In Brazil’s 2000 census, the total fertility rate for Catholics was 2.44 children per woman. For Protestants, it was 2.46. Both figures are above replacement value, the minimum level needed to maintain a stable population. Comparable microdata necessary to calculate fertility rates for different religious groups from Brazil’s 2010 census are not yet publicly available. As of 2010, however, the fertility rate for Brazil’s general population had fallen below the replacement level, to 1.9. (return to text)

4 See the Pew Research Center’s 2006 report “Spirit and Power: A 10-Country Survey of Pentecostals.” (return to text)

5 Some individual rural regions may not reflect this general pattern, but on the whole, Catholics are more likely to live in rural areas in Brazil. (return to text)

6 More information on regional religious breakdowns in 2010, as well as other sociodemographic breakdowns, can be found at the website of the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística(return to text)

Photo Credit: Paulo Whitaker/Reuters/Corbis

Reading history through genetics (Columbia University)

5-Dec-2012, by Holly Evarts

New method analyzes recent history of Ashkenazi and Masai populations, paving the way to personalized medicine

New York, NY—December 5, 2012—Computer scientists at Columbia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science have published a study in the November 2012 issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics (AJHG) that demonstrates a new approach used to analyze genetic data to learn more about the history of populations. The authors are the first to develop a method that can describe in detail events in recent history, over the past 2,000 years. They demonstrate this method in two populations, the Ashkenazi Jews and the Masai people of Kenya, who represent two kinds of histories and relationships with neighboring populations: one that remained isolated from surrounding groups, and one that grew from frequent cross-migration across nearby villages.

“Through this work, we’ve been able to recover very recent and refined demographic history, within the last few centuries, in contrast to previous methods that could only paint broad brushstrokes of the much deeper past, many thousands of years ago,” says Computer Science Associate Professor Itsik Pe’er, who led the research. “This means that we can now use genetics as an objective source of information regarding history, as opposed to subjective written texts.”

Pe’er’s group uses computational genetics to develop methods to analyze DNA sequence variants. Understanding the history of a population, knowing which populations had a shared origin and when, which groups have been isolated for a long time, or resulted from admixture of multiple original groups, and being able to fully characterize their genetics is, he explains, “essential in paving the way for personalized medicine.”

For this study, the team developed the mathematical framework and software tools to describe and analyze the histories of the two populations and discovered that, for instance, Ashkenazi Jews are descendants of a small number—in the hundreds—of individuals from the late medieval times, and since then have remained genetically isolated while their population has expanded rapidly to several millions today.

“Knowing that the Ashkenazi population has expanded so recently from a very small number has practical implications,” notes Pe’er. “If we can obtain data on only a few hundreds of individuals from this population, a perfectly feasible task in today’s technology, we will have effectively collected the genomes of millions of current Ashkenazim.” He and his team are now doing just that, and have already begun to analyze a first group of about 150 Ashkenazi genomes.

The genetic data of the Masai, a semi-nomadic people, indicates the village-by-village structure of their population. Unlike the isolated Ashkenazi group, the Masai live in small villages but regularly interact and intermarry across village boundaries. The ancestors of each village therefore typically come from many different places, and a single village hosts an effective gene pool that is much larger than the village itself.

Previous work in population genetics was focused on mutations that occurred very long ago, say the researchers, and therefore able to only describe population changes that occurred at that timescale, typically before the agricultural revolution. Pe’er’s research has changed that, enabling scientists to learn more about recent changes in populations and start to figure out, for instance, how to pinpoint severe mutations in personal genomes of specific individuals—mutations that are more likely to be associated with disease.

“This is a thrilling time to be working in computational genetics,” adds Pe’er, citing the speed in which data acquisition has been accelerating; much faster than the ability of computing hardware to process such data. “While the deluge of big data has forced us to develop better algorithms to analyze them, it has also rewarded us with unprecedented levels of understanding.”

###

Pe’er’s team worked closely on this research with study co-authors, Ariel Darvasi, PhD of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who was responsible for collecting most of the study samples, and Todd Lencz, PhD of Feinstein institute for Medical Research, who handled genotyping of the DNA samples. The team’s computing and analysis took place in the Columbia Initiative in Systems Biology (CISB).

This research is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The computing facility of CISB is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Profeta do nada óbvio (FSP)

RUY CASTRO

São Paulo, segunda-feira, 09 de julho de 2012

RIO DE JANEIRO – Nelson Rodrigues era diabólico. Com toda a miopia e aversão a óculos, seu poder de enxergar ao longe era desconcertante. Como em 1970, quando, durante meses, sustentou sozinho a certeza de que a seleção brasileira “ganharia andando” a Copa do México (seus colegas, os “profetas da derrota”, apostavam na correria das seleções europeias). Bem, o Brasil ganhou andando.

Outra premonição foi a de fins de maio de 1962, quando garantiu que, se Pelé se machucasse na Copa do Chile, o garoto Amarildo o substituiria como um “possesso”. Um mês depois, Pelé se contundiu na segunda partida e a Copa acabou para ele. Amarildo entrou nos jogos restantes, fez os gols que Pelé faria e foi o “Possesso” que Nelson anteviu.

Outra de suas “verdades eternas” -proclamada na “Resenha Facit”, que Nelson estrelava na TV Rio com João Saldanha, Armando Nogueira e demais- foi a de que o videoteipe era “burro”. Na hora, parecia absurdo -como contestar algo que se podia ver e rever? Trinta anos depois, uma infração de Júnior Baiano na área do Brasil passou em branco pelos videoteipes e só apareceu, dias depois, por um ângulo inusitado de câmera. O juiz, que marcara o pênalti, estava certo. O videoteipe era mesmo burro.

Em fins dos anos 60, Nelson produziu outra frase impossível de ser verificada e que parecia provocação: “Ainda seremos o maior país ex-católico do mundo”. Previa um declínio da fé católica no Brasil porque setores da igreja estavam trocando a promessa da vida eterna pela luta armada contra a ditadura.

Nas décadas seguintes, sai papa, entra papa, essa linha política seria abandonada. Mas o encanto se quebrara. Em 1970, os católicos eram 90% dos brasileiros. Hoje, segundo o IBGE, são 64%. E, em 2030, serão menos de 50%. Nelson errou a causa, mas sua sentença continuou de pé.

O poder das mulheres nas famílias (O Globo)

São 22 milhões que assumiram a responsabilidade em 38,7% dos lares

CÁSSIA ALMEIDA e LETÍCIA LINS

Publicado:27/08/12 – 23h06 / Atualizado:28/08/12 – 11h58

<br /><br /> Maria Pamposa de Lima, 47 comanda sua casa há 17 anos e criou 5 filhos sozinha, na foto os filhos Fabiane de Lima, 27, Fabio Lins Lima da Silva, 22 e o neto David Venicius, 7.<br /><br /> Foto: Hans von Manteuffel / Hans von ManteuffelMaria Pamposa de Lima, 47 comanda sua casa há 17 anos e criou 5 filhos sozinha, na foto os filhos Fabiane de Lima, 27, Fabio Lins Lima da Silva, 22 e o neto David Venicius, 7.HANS VON MANTEUFFEL / HANS VON MANTEUFFEL

RECIFE E RIO – No Nordeste é cada vez mais comum domicílios comandados por mulheres, tanto na capital quanto no interior. E ocorre em duas condições: quando a mulher mora só com os filhos, ou quando tem companheiro, mas é ela quem manda nas finanças e se considera chefe da família. Nas estatísticas, as mulheres são as responsáveis em 38,7% dos domicílios, o que representa 22 milhões de unidades, de acordo com o último censo demográfico do IBGE, de 2010. No levantamento anterior, em 2000, essa chefia feminina estava em 24,9% dos lares.

O casamento ruim não prende mais as mulheres. É o caso de Maria Pamposa de Lima, de 48 anos que, desde os 31 anos, luta sozinha para criar os cinco filhos. Já trabalhou em reciclagem quando morava em um barraco de lona e pedaços de madeira. Hoje está no mercado formal de trabalho atuando como servente em um bar no bairro de Casa Forte, na zona norte da capital pernambucana. Ela deixou marido porque ele bebia muito, exigia dinheiro para alimentar o vício e terminou morrendo de cirrose hepática.

Ela ganha um salário mínimo e complementa a renda familiar juntando as latas de cerveja do restaurante. Dos cinco filhos, quatro moram com ela, dois trabalham e só uma chegou à universidade, Fabiana. A jovem trabalha na prefeitura de Moreno, onde entrou por concurso, e estuda pedagogia. Afirma que a mãe é pobre, que viveu e vive em muita dificuldade, mas que criou a família baseada nos princípios da ética, da moral, da honestidade e de amor ao próximo.

— Moramos muito tempo em casa de invasão (hoje substituída por uma de alvenaria) e nossa vida foi muito sofrida. Mas ninguém na família se envolveu com drogas — diz Fabiana.

Além das latinhas para reforçar o orçamento, Maria transformou um dos quartos da casa em uma lojinha que lhe rende um pequeno aluguel.

‘Cuido de tudo: do negócio ao dinheiro’

Vizinha de Pamposa, Maria Jocelma da Silva, de 37 anos, tem uma história diferente. Ela vive com o companheiro, Ademilton Bispo de Melo, de 47 anos, mas se considera a chefe da família. Jocelma montou um pequeno restaurante em uma sala da residência e o marido trabalho como cozinheiro.

—Aqui a chefe sou eu. Cuido de tudo, do negócio, das compras, das finanças. O dinheiro espicha na minha mão. Se eu deixar com ele acaba logo, justifica.

Ademiltom afirma que apesar do machismo nordestino, não dá importância à situação:

—Não ligo não. Vivemos em união e é tudo com ela, a casa, o negócio, o dinheiro. Hoje a mulher faz tudo, é engenheira, é peão de obra, é cobradora no ônibus e é até presidente.

VEJA TAMBÉM

Leia mais sobre esse assunto em http://oglobo.globo.com/economia/o-poder-das-mulheres-nas-familias-5918850#ixzz252DcZoN0 © 1996 – 2012. Todos direitos reservados a Infoglobo Comunicação e Participações S.A. Este material não pode ser publicado, transmitido por broadcast, reescrito ou redistribuído sem autorização. 

População indígena no País cresceu 205% em duas décadas (Agência Brasil)

JC e-mail 4559, de 10 de Agosto de 2012.

No contexto do dia 9 de agosto, Dia Internacional dos Povos Indígenas, lideranças realizaram um protesto na sede da Advocacia Geral da União (AGU) para apelar pela suspensão da portaria 303, que autoriza a intervenção em terras indígenas sem a necessidade de consultar os índios.

Hoje (10), Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE) divulgou os dados do Censo 2010 que mostram que os índios no Brasil somam 896,9 mil pessoas, de 305 etnias, que falam 274 línguas indígenas. É a primeira vez que o órgão coleta informações sobre a etnia dos povos. O levantamento marca também a retomada da investigação sobre as línguas indígenas, parada por 60 anos.

Com base nos dados do Censo 2010, o IBGE revela que a população indígena no País cresceu 205% desde 1991, quando foi feito o primeiro levantamento no modelo atual. À época, os índios somavam 294 mil. O número chegou a 734 mil no Censo de 2000, 150% de aumento na comparação com 1991.

A pesquisa mostra que, dos 896,9 mil índios do País, mais da metade (63,8%) vivem em área rural. A situação é o inverso da de 2000, quando mais da metade estavam em área urbana (52%).

Na avaliação do IBGE, a explicação para o crescimento da população indígena pode estar na queda da taxa de fecundidade das mulheres em áreas rurais, apesar de o índice de 2010 não estar fechado ainda. Entre 1991 e 2000, essa taxa passou de 6,4 filhos por mulher para 5,8.

Outro fator que pode explicar o aumento do número de índios é o processo de etnogênese, quando há “reconstrução das comunidades indígenas”, que supostamente não existiam mais, explica o professor de antropologia da Universidade de Campinas (Unicamp), José Maurício Arruti.

Os dados do IBGE indicam que a maioria dos índios (57,7%) vive em 505 terras indígenas reconhecidas pelo governo até o dia 31 de dezembro de 2010, período de avaliação da pesquisa. Essas áreas equivalem a 12,5% do território nacional, sendo que maior parte fica na Região Norte – a mais populosa em indígenas (342 mil). Já na Região Sudeste, 84% dos 99,1 mil índios estão fora das terras originárias. Em seguida vem o Nordeste (54%).

Para chegar ao número total de índios, o IBGE somou aqueles que se autodeclararam indígenas (817,9 mil) com 78,9 mil que vivem em terras indígenas, mas não tinham optado por essa classificação ao responder à pergunta sobre cor ou raça. Para esse grupo, foi feita uma segunda pergunta, indagando se o entrevistado se considerava índio. O objetivo foi evitar distorções.

A responsável pela pesquisa, Nilza Pereira, explicou que a categoria índios foi inventada pela população não índia e, por isso, alguns se confundiram na autodeclaração e não se disseram indígenas em um primeiro momento. “Para o índio, ele é um xavante, um kaiapó, da cor parda, verde e até marrom”, justificou.

A terra indígena mais populosa no País é a Yanomami, com 25,7 mil habitantes (5% do total) distribuídos entre o Amazonas e Roraima. Já a etnia Tikúna (AM) é mais numerosa, com 46 mil indivíduos, sendo 39,3 mil na terra indígena e os demais fora. Em seguida, vem a etnia Guarani Kaiowá (MS), com 43 mil índios, dos quais 35 mil estão na terra indígena e 8,1 mil vivem fora.

O Censo 2010 também revelou que 37,4% índios com mais de 5 anos de idade falam línguas indígenas, apesar de anos de contato com não índios. Cerca de 120 mil não falam português. Os povos considerados índios isolados, pelas limitações da própria política de contato, com objetivo de preservá-los, não foram entrevistados e não estão contabilizados no Censo 2010.

The Beginning of the End of the Census? (N.Y.Times)

By 

Published: May 19, 2012

THE American Community Survey may be the most important government function you’ve never heard of, and it’s in trouble.

This survey of American households has been around in some form since 1850, either as a longer version of or a richer supplement to the basic decennial census. It tells Americans how poor we are, how rich we are, who is suffering, who is thriving, where people work, what kind of training people need to get jobs, what languages people speak, who uses food stamps, who has access to health care, and so on.

It is, more or less, the country’s primary check for determining how well the government is doing — and in fact what the government will be doing. The survey’s findings help determine how over $400 billion in government funds is distributed each year.

But last week, the Republican-led House voted to eliminate the survey altogether, on the grounds that the government should not be butting its nose into Americans’ homes.

“This is a program that intrudes on people’s lives, just like the Environmental Protection Agency or the bank regulators,” said Daniel Webster, a first-term Republican congressman from Florida who sponsored the relevant legislation.

“We’re spending $70 per person to fill this out. That’s just not cost effective,” he continued, “especially since in the end this is not a scientific survey. It’s a random survey.”

In fact, the randomness of the survey is precisely what makes the survey scientific, statistical experts say.

Each year the Census Bureau polls a representative, randomized sample of about three million American households about demographics, habits, languages spoken, occupation, housing and various other categories. The resulting numbers are released without identifying individuals, and offer current demographic portraits of even the country’s tiniest communities.

It is the largest (and only) data set of its kind and is used across the federal government in formulas that determine how much funding states and communities get for things like education and public health.

For example, a question on flush toilets — one that some politicians like to cite as being especially invasive — is used to help assess groundwater contamination for rural parts of the country that do not have modern waste disposal systems, according to the Census Bureau.

Law enforcement agencies have likewise used the data to predict criminal activities like methamphetamine production.

Their recent vote aside, members of Congress do seem to realize how useful these numbers are. After all, they use the data themselves.

A number of questions on the survey have been added because Congress specifically demanded their inclusion. In 2008, for example, Congress passed a lawrequiring the American Community Survey to add questions about computer and Internet use. Additionally, recent survey data are featured on the Web sites of many representatives who voted to kill the program — including Mr. Webster’s own home page.

The legislation is expected to go to the Senate this week, and all sorts of stakeholders are coming out of the woodwork.

“Knowing what’s happening in our economy is so desperately important to keeping our economy functioning smoothly,” said Maurine Haver, the chief executive and founder of Haver Analytics, a data analysis company. “The reason the Great Recession did not become another Great Depression is because of the more current economic data we have today that we didn’t have in the 1930s.”

She added that having good data about the state of the economy was one of America’s primary competitive advantages. “The Chinese are probably watching all this with glee,” she said, noting that the Chinese government has also opted not to publish economic data on occasion, generally when the news wasn’t good.

Other private companies and industry groups — including the United States Chamber of Commerce, the National Retail Federation and the National Association of Home Builders — are up in arms.

Target recently released a video explaining how it used these census data to determine where to locate new stores. Economic development organizations and otherbusiness groups say they use the numbers to figure out where potential workers are.

Mr. Webster says that businesses should instead be thanking House Republicans for reducing the government’s reach.

“What really promotes business in this country is liberty,” he said, “not demand for information.”

Mr. Webster and other critics have gone so far as to say the American Community Survey is unconstitutional. Of course, the basic decennial census is specifically enumerated in the United States Constitution, and courts have ruled that this longer form of the census survey is constitutional as well.

Some census watchers — like Andrew Reamer, a research professor at the George Washington University Institute of Public Policy — say they do not expect the Senate to agree on fully eliminating the American Community Survey (as well as the Economic Census, which would also be effectively destroyed by the House bill).

Rather, Mr. Reamer suspects, Republicans may hope that when the Senate and House bills go to a conference committee, a final compromise will keep the survey, but make participation in it voluntary. Under current law, participation is mandatory.

If the American Community Survey were made voluntary, experts say, the census would have to spend significantly more money on follow-up phone calls and in-person visits to get enough households to answer.

But Congress also plans to cut the census budget, making such follow-ups prohibitively expensive.

“If it’s voluntary, then we’ll just get bad data,” saidKenneth Prewitt, a former director of the census who is now at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. “That means businesses will make bad decisions, and government will make bad decisions, which means we won’t even know where we actually are wasting our tax dollars.”

Catherine Rampell is an economics reporter for The New York Times.

The world’s population will reach 7 billion at the end of October. Don’t panic (The Economist)

Demography

A tale of three islands

Oct 22nd 2011 | from the print edition

 

IN 1950 the whole population of the earth—2.5 billion—could have squeezed, shoulder to shoulder, onto the Isle of Wight, a 381-square-kilometre rock off southern England. By 1968 John Brunner, a British novelist, observed that the earth’s people—by then 3.5 billion—would have required the Isle of Man, 572 square kilometres in the Irish Sea, for its standing room. Brunner forecast that by 2010 the world’s population would have reached 7 billion, and would need a bigger island. Hence the title of his 1968 novel about over-population, “Stand on Zanzibar” (1,554 square kilometres off east Africa).

Brunner’s prediction was only a year out. The United Nations’ population division now says the world will reach 7 billion on October 31st 2011 (America’s Census Bureau delays the date until March 2012). The UN will even identify someone born that day as the world’s 7 billionth living person. The 6 billionth, Adnan Nevic, was born on October 12th 1999 in Sarajevo, in Bosnia. He will be just past his 12th birthday when the next billion clicks over.

That makes the world’s population look as if it is rising as fast as ever. It took 250,000 years to reach 1 billion, around 1800; over a century more to reach 2 billion (in 1927); and 32 years more to reach 3 billion. But to rise from 5 billion (in 1987) to 6 billion took only 12 years; and now, another 12 years later, it is at 7 billion (see chart 1). By 2050, the UN thinks, there will be 9.3 billion people, requiring an island the size of Tenerife or Maui to stand on.

Odd though it seems, however, the growth in the world’s population is actually slowing. The peak of population growth was in the late 1960s, when the total was rising by almost 2% a year. Now the rate is half that. The last time it was so low was in 1950, when the death rate was much higher. The result is that the next billion people, according to the UN, will take 14 years to arrive, the first time that a billion milestone has taken longer to reach than the one before. The billion after that will take 18 years.

Once upon a time, the passing of population milestones might have been cause for celebration. Now it gives rise to jeremiads. As Hillary Clinton’s science adviser, Nina Fedoroff, told the BBC in 2009, “There are probably already too many people on the planet.” But the notion of “too many” is more flexible than it seems. The earth could certainly not support 10 billion hunter-gatherers, who used much more land per head than modern farm-fed people do. But it does not have to. The earth might well not be able to support 10 billion people if they had exactly the same impact per person as 7 billion do today. But that does not necessarily spell Malthusian doom, because the impact humans have on the earth and on each other can change.

For most people, the big questions about population are: can the world feed 9 billion mouths by 2050? Are so many people ruining the environment? And will those billions, living cheek-by-jowl, go to war more often? On all three counts, surprising as it seems, reducing population growth any more quickly than it is falling anyway may not make much difference.

Start with the link between population and violence. It seems plausible that the more young men there are, the more likely they will be to fight. This is especially true when groups are competing for scarce resources. Some argue that the genocidal conflict in Darfur, western Sudan, was caused partly by high population growth, which led to unsustainable farming and conflicts over land and water. Land pressure also influenced the Rwandan genocide of 1994, as migrants in search of a livelihood in one of the world’s most densely populated countries moved into already settled areas, with catastrophic results.

But there is a difference between local conflicts and what is happening on a global scale. Although the number of sovereign states has increased almost as dramatically as the world’s population over the past half-century, the number of wars between states fell fairly continuously during the period. The number of civil wars rose, then fell. The number of deaths in battle fell by roughly three-quarters. These patterns do not seem to be influenced either by the relentless upward pressure of population, or by the slackening of that pressure as growth decelerates. The difference seems to have been caused by fewer post-colonial wars, the ending of cold-war alliances (and proxy wars) and, possibly, the increase in international peacekeepers.

More people, more damage?

Human activity has caused profound changes to the climate, biodiversity, oceanic acidity and greenhouse-gas levels in the atmosphere. But it does not automatically follow that the more people there are, the worse the damage. In 2007 Americans and Australians emitted almost 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide each. In contrast, more than 60 countries—including the vast majority of African ones—emitted less than 1 tonne per person.

This implies that population growth in poorer countries (where it is concentrated) has had a smaller impact on the climate in recent years than the rise in the population of the United States (up by over 50% in 1970-2010). Most of the world’s population growth in the next 20 years will occur in countries that make the smallest contribution to greenhouse gases. Global pollution will be more affected by the pattern of economic growth—and especially whether emerging nations become as energy-intensive as America, Australia and China.

Population growth does make a bigger difference to food. All things being equal, it is harder to feed 7 billion people than 6 billion. According to the World Bank, between 2005 and 2055 agricultural productivity will have to increase by two-thirds to keep pace with rising population and changing diets. Moreover, according to the bank, if the population stayed at 2005 levels, farm productivity would have to rise by only a quarter, so more future demand comes from a growing population than from consumption per person.

Increasing farm productivity by a quarter would obviously be easier than boosting it by two-thirds. But even a rise of two-thirds is not as much as it sounds. From 1970-2010 farm productivity rose far more than this, by over three-and-a-half times. The big problem for agriculture is not the number of people, but signs that farm productivity may be levelling out. The growth in agricultural yields seems to be slowing down. There is little new farmland available. Water shortages are chronic and fertilisers are over-used. All these—plus the yield-reductions that may come from climate change, and wastefulness in getting food to markets—mean that the big problems are to do with supply, not demand.

None of this means that population does not matter. But the main impact comes from relative changes—the growth of one part of the population compared with another, for example, or shifts in the average age of the population—rather than the absolute number of people. Of these relative changes, falling fertility is most important. The fertility rate is the number of children a woman can expect to have. At the moment, almost half the world’s population—3.2 billion—lives in countries with a fertility rate of 2.1 or less. That number, the so-called replacement rate, is usually taken to be the level at which the population eventually stops growing.

The world’s decline in fertility has been staggering (see chart 2). In 1970 the total fertility rate was 4.45 and the typical family in the world had four or five children. It is now 2.45 worldwide, and lower in some surprising places. Bangladesh’s rate is 2.16, having halved in 20 years. Iran’s fertility fell from 7 in 1984 to just 1.9 in 2006. Countries with below-replacement fertility include supposedly teeming Brazil, Tunisia and Thailand. Much of Europe and East Asia have fertility rates far below replacement levels.

The fertility fall is releasing wave upon wave of demographic change. It is the main influence behind the decline of population growth and, perhaps even more important, is shifting the balance of age groups within a population.

When gold turns to silver

A fall in fertility sends a sort of generational bulge surging through a society. The generation in question is the one before the fertility fall really begins to bite, which in Europe and America was the baby-boom generation that is just retiring, and in China and East Asia the generation now reaching adulthood. To begin with, the favoured generation is in its childhood; countries have lots of children and fewer surviving grandparents (who were born at a time when life expectancy was lower). That was the situation in Europe in the 1950s and in East Asia in the 1970s.

But as the select generation enters the labour force, a country starts to benefit from a so-called “demographic dividend”. This happens when there are relatively few children (because of the fall in fertility), relatively few older people (because of higher mortality previously), and lots of economically active adults, including, often, many women, who enter the labour force in large numbers for the first time. It is a period of smaller families, rising income, rising life expectancy and big social change, including divorce, postponed marriage and single-person households. This was the situation in Europe between 1945 and 1975 (“les trente glorieuses”) and in much of East Asia in 1980-2010.

But there is a third stage. At some point, the gilded generation turns silver and retires. Now the dividend becomes a liability. There are disproportionately more old people depending upon a smaller generation behind them. Population growth stops or goes into reverse, parts of a country are abandoned by the young and the social concerns of the aged grow in significance. This situation already exists in Japan. It is arriving fast in Europe and America, and soon after that will reach East Asia.

A demographic dividend tends to boost economic growth because a large number of working-age adults increases the labour force, keeps wages relatively low, boosts savings and increases demand for goods and services. Part of China’s phenomenal growth has come from its unprecedentedly low dependency ratio—just 38 (this is the number of dependents, children and people over 65, per 100 working adults; it implies the working-age group is almost twice as large as the rest of the population put together). One study by Australia’s central bank calculated that a third of East Asia’s GDP growth in 1965-90 came from its favourable demography. About a third of America’s GDP growth in 2000-10 also came from its increasing population.

The world as a whole reaped a demographic dividend in the 40 years to 2010. In 1970 there were 75 dependents for every 100 adults of working age. In 2010 the number of dependents dropped to just 52. Huge improvements were registered not only in China but also in South-East Asia and north Africa, where dependency ratios fell by 40 points. Even “ageing” Europe and America ended the period with fewer dependents than at the beginning.

A demographic dividend does not automatically generate growth. It depends on whether the country can put its growing labour force to productive use. In the 1980s Latin America and East Asia had similar demographic patterns. But while East Asia experienced a long boom, Latin America endured its “lost decade”. One of the biggest questions for Arab countries, which are beginning to reap their own demographic dividends, is whether they will follow East Asia or Latin America.

But even if demography guarantees nothing, it can make growth harder or easier. National demographic inheritances therefore matter. And they differ a lot.

Where China loses

Hania Zlotnik, the head of the UN’s Population Division, divides the world into three categories, according to levels of fertility (see map). About a fifth of the world lives in countries with high fertility—3 or more. Most are Africans. Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, is one of the fastest-growing parts of the world. In 1975 it had half the population of Europe. It overtook Europe in 2004, and by 2050 there will be just under 2 billion people there compared with 720m Europeans. About half of the 2.3 billion increase in the world’s population over the next 40 years will be in Africa.

The rest of the world is more or less equally divided between countries with below-replacement fertility (less than 2.1) and those with intermediate fertility (between 2.1 and 3). The first group consists of Europe, China and the rest of East Asia. The second comprises South and South-East Asia, the Middle East and the Americas (including the United States).

The low-fertility countries face the biggest demographic problems. The elderly share of Japan’s population is already the highest in the world. By 2050 the country will have almost as many dependents as working-age adults, and half the population will be over 52. This will make Japan the oldest society the world has ever known. Europe faces similar trends, less acutely. It has roughly half as many dependent children and retired people as working-age adults now. By 2050 it will have three dependents for every four adults, so will shoulder a large burden of ageing, which even sustained increases in fertility would fail to reverse for decades. This will cause disturbing policy implications in the provision of pensions and health care, which rely on continuing healthy tax revenues from the working population.

At least these countries are rich enough to make such provision. Not so China. With its fertility artificially suppressed by the one-child policy, it is ageing at an unprecedented rate. In 1980 China’s median age (the point where half the population is older and half younger) was 22 years, a developing-country figure. China will be older than America as early as 2020 and older than Europe by 2030. This will bring an abrupt end to its cheap-labour manufacturing. Its dependency ratio will rise from 38 to 64 by 2050, the sharpest rise in the world. Add in the country’s sexual imbalances—after a decade of sex-selective abortions, China will have 96.5m men in their 20s in 2025 but only 80.3m young women—and demography may become the gravest problem the Communist Party has to face.

Many countries with intermediate fertility—South-East Asia, Latin America, the United States—are better off. Their dependency ratios are not deteriorating so fast and their societies are ageing more slowly. America’s demographic profile is slowly tugging it away from Europe. Though its fertility rate may have fallen recently, it is still slightly higher than Europe’s. In 2010 the two sides of the Atlantic had similar dependency rates. By 2050 America’s could be nearly ten points lower.

But the biggest potential beneficiaries are the two other areas with intermediate fertility—India and the Middle East—and the high-fertility continent of Africa. These places have long been regarded as demographic time-bombs, with youth bulges, poverty and low levels of education and health. But that is because they are moving only slowly out of the early stage of high fertility into the one in which lower fertility begins to make an impact.

At the moment, Africa has larger families and more dependent children than India or Arab countries and is a few years younger (its median age is 20 compared with their 25). But all three areas will see their dependency ratios fall in the next 40 years, the only parts of the world to do so. And they will keep their median ages low—below 38 in 2050. If they can make their public institutions less corrupt, keep their economic policies outward-looking and invest more in education, as East Asia did, then Africa, the Middle East and India could become the fastest-growing parts of the world economy within a decade or so.

Here’s looking at you

Demography, though, is not only about economics. Most emerging countries have benefited from the sort of dividend that changed Europe and America in the 1960s. They are catching up with the West in terms of income, family size and middle-class formation. Most say they want to keep their cultures unsullied by the social trends—divorce, illegitimacy and so on—that also affected the West. But the growing number of never-married women in urban Asia suggests that this will be hard.

If you look at the overall size of the world’s population, then, the picture is one of falling fertility, decelerating growth and a gradual return to the flat population level of the 18th century. But below the surface societies are being churned up in ways not seen in the much more static pre-industrial world. The earth’s population may never need a larger island than Maui to stand on. But the way it arranges itself will go on shifting for centuries to come.