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.

You can download an iPhone app for the 13th edition from the App Store (search for Weeks Population).

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at:

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Women Are Making Some Progress in Japan and Iran

Thanks to both Todd Gardner and Abu Daoud for links to a fascinating story posted on the Australian version of BusinessInsider, after translation from its original Japanese. A young Japanese woman has launched a startup company that encourages other young women--those in their 20s--to get married, have kids, and also have a job.
In the 1980s, the number of unmarried young people in Japan increased along with the economic bubble. With those singles now in their middle age, the one-person household is projected to be more than 40% of the country’s total households by 2040. 
In a stark contrast, more millennials, particularly women in their 20s, increasingly wish to marry young — almost three decades after that bubble burst. 
Nearly 80% of women between ages 18 and 34 felt marriage was important in 2015, up from 71% in 1987, according to a survey conducted by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. The rate for the men has hovered around 60% during the same two time periods.
Unfortunately, it's not real clear what the start-up company to encourage early marriage. Furthermore, the reporters very honestly note that the 2015 census data don't yet show much movement in the direction of a younger age at marriage for women. Still, the positive element is the idea that Japanese culture has shifted enough so that young women could even think about it.

Meanwhile, in another low fertility country--Iran, women are protesting the government rule that requires women to wear full body covering Hijabs in public. The Guardian has the news about the protests: 
Iranian law has compelled women to wear a hijab since the 1979 revolution, but it has been a difficult policy to enforce. Despite the fear of reprisals, millions of women in Iran defy the restrictions on a daily basis.
A growing number of women, especially in Tehran, refuse to wear a hijab while driving, arguing that a car is a private space where they can dress more freely.
The issue has become more prominent in recent years, partly thanks to a campaign run by activist Masih Alinejad, called My Stealthy Freedom. Her Facebook page invites women in Iran to post pictures of themselves without their headscarves in defiance of the rules. She is also behind White Wednesdays, a campaign encouraging women to wear white headscarves and take them off in protest at the rules.
“Forced hijab is the most visible symbol of oppression against women in Iran, that’s why fighting for freedom to wear or not to wear hijab is the first step towards full equality,” Alinejad told the Guardian on Monday. “These women are not protesting against a piece of cloth, it’s about our identity, our dignity, and our freedom of choice. Our body, our choice.”
As I've noted on numerous occasions, low status for women routinely leads to high fertility (and hard lives for the women involved) and has a very long history in the world, but repressing women in modern society is, somewhat contrarily, a major cause of the below replacement level fertility being complained about in places like Japan and Iran. 

1 comment:

  1. Automation...