Tuesday, June 28, 2016

US first quarter growth revised upwards; Generation EU; Are we overpopulated or underdeveloped?

1 US first quarter growth revised upwards (BBC) The US economy grew faster than previously estimated in the first quarter of the year, according to official figures. The Commerce Department said gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an annual pace of 1.1% in the quarter, up from an earlier estimate of 0.8%. The upwards revision was helped by stronger export sales.

However, growth in consumer spending was revised down to 1.5%, the slowest pace since the first quarter of 2014. That weaker number was a reflection of slowing spending in service sectors such as health care and weak consumer spending during a harsh winter in many regions of the US.

The upward revision is a positive sign for growth in the current quarter, but there are concerns that the impact of the UK's decision to leave the European Union could send shockwaves through the US economy, slowing growth in the autumn. Economists currently expect second quarter growth in 2016 to be close to 2.4%

2 Generation EU (San Francisco Chronicle) In interviews after Brexit, Brits in their 20s and 30s described disagreements between euroskeptic parents and their more internationally minded children. The more passionate disagreements led to angry phone calls, accusatory text messages and — in one or two cases — parents and children who haven't spoken since the EU referendum results became known.

The reasons for the family feuds are as diverse as the families themselves, but for many young supporters of the "remain" camp, it's the prospect of seeing their parents shut the gates to Europe that galls, particularly as Britain's baby boomers prepare to bequeath their children a national debt of more than 1.6 trillion pounds ($2.1 trillion.)

Surveys show a notable division between Britain's young and old on Brexit; an Ipsos MORI survey showed 64 percent of those aged 18 to 35 favored the "remain" side, with 60 percent of those aged 55 and over backing Brexit.

3 Overpopulated or underdeveloped? (Carla Kweifio-Okai & Josh Holder in The Guardian) Global population hit 7.3 billion midway through 2015, an increase of 2 billion since 1990. It will continue to climb steadily, according to forecasters, reaching 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050, and 11.2 billion in 2100.

But there is more to the population story than unprecedented numbers. The rate of growth is continuing to slow – the overall growth rate has been falling since the 1970s – and demographics are shifting. Globally, women are having fewer children than ever before

“The number of births has peaked, or has levelled off globally,” says John Wilmoth, director of the population division in the UN’s department of economic and social affairs. “Some countries still have increasing numbers of births but for the world as a whole, we’re not adding people to the population through births. We’re mostly adding to the population because people are living longer.”

Even if global fertility rates were to drastically reduce to replacement levels, populations would continue to grow for some time due to what experts refer to as the population momentum – the increasing number of people surviving to reproductive age and beyond. In 2015 global life expectancy rose to 71.4 years, a five-year increase since 2000.

More than half of global population growth between now and 2050 is expected to take place in Africa. The most notable growth is expected in Nigeria, where the population is estimated to surpass that of the US by 2050, making it the third largest nation on earth.

Fertility is projected to decline in Africa too, but the pace with which this happens will have important implications for development. There are a number of factors that can play a role in a country’s fertility rates, including its investment in education, the availability of family planning services, the status of women’s rights and the prevalence of early and forced marriage.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) argues that addressing these key issues is fundamental to slowing population growth. “Population dynamics are not destiny,” the UNFPA’s population matters report says. “Change is possible through a set of policies which respect human rights and freedoms and contribute to a reduction in fertility, notably access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, education beyond the primary level, and the empowerment of women.”

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