This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

North Koreans Are Having Trouble Feeding Themselves

North Korea makes the news largely for its nuclear program and human rights abuses, but it now appears to be facing a serious food shortage, as well. This is almost certainly not as bad as that in Somalia, but it still seems to be bad.
North Korea's food shortage has reached a crisis point this year, aid workers say, largely because of shocks to the agricultural sector, including torrential rains and the coldest winter in 60 years. Six million North Koreans are living "on a knife edge" and will go hungry without immediate food aid, the World Food Program said, calling in April for $224 million in emergency aid.
The country has not had the resources to invest heavily in agriculture, so the ability to grow food is limited.
North Korea, population 24 million with an annual per capita income of $1,800, has the manpower but lacks the economic and natural resources to succeed at farming, said Kim Young-hoon from the Korea Rural Economic Institute in Seoul, South Korea. He said the North Koreans continue to pursue new ways to stimulate the agricultural sector but cannot fund their ambitious projects.
The demographic effect of this can be seen in the vital statistics. According to the UN Population Division the average North Korean woman is bearing only 2 children each, although this is more than the 1.4 children on average being born to women in South Korea. However, life expectancy at birth for females in North Korea is 12 years lower than in South Korea (72 compared to 84). As a reminder, life expectancy in Somalia for females is only 53 years.

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