Monday, December 17, 2012

Notes On Population, Women And Work

The New York Times has just published an essay blissful in its lack of context or statistical rigor (Link). It seems rural Japan is getting depopulated, young persons are leaving for the cities and the median age is getting perilously high.

As is the case in North Dakota. As it is in rural just about everywhere in the industrialized world. And not a few countries of the not-so-industrial world too.

As for the childcare availability problem mentioned which is somehow depressing fertility, the government has been making headway on this problem every year, cutting down the number of children on waiting lists for public day care centers despite massive year-on-year increases in demand (Link). The government's buildout is indeed hammering private daycare providers. In the TMD, the move by private railways, with their huge landholdings, into the daycare business likely to drive the last of the small independent providers out of business.

The interplay in between attitudes and reality regarding women, childbearing and work is complicated, and growing more so, rather than less. The Cabinet Office's roughly triennial "Survey on Social Participation of Men and Women" (Danjo kyodo sanka shakai in kan suru yoron chosa) released today finds a major reversal in the long-term trend as regards the statement, "The husband should be out working; the wife should taking care of the home." From 1992, the year of the first of these surveys, to 2009, the percentage of respondents agreeing with that statement declined with every survey. However, in the 2012 survey, the percentage of respondent agreeing with the statement jumped -- up to a level not seen in 15 years (Link - J).

The shocker is the shift in the attitudes of the 20-29 age cohort since the 2009 survey. Whereas the youngest cohort was the age cohort the least likely to agree with the statement in 2009 (37.3% as compared to all ages figure of 41.7%) in 2012 it comes in second only to the cohorts over 60 years of age (50.0% as compared to the all ages figure of 51.6%). In both cases, the 50-59 age cohort has been the least likely to agree the statement (Link -J)

Amaterasu bless you, you children of the 1960s.

The denial of economic reality by the youngest age cohort is repeated in the responses to the statement "It is all right for women to continue working even if they have children." In between 2009 and 2012, the percentage of respondents in the 20-29 age cohorts agreeing with the statement fell from 46.4% to 39.1%, even as the figures for all cohorts moved in the opposite direction (45.9% in 2009 and 47.5% in 2012).

Looks like the echo boomers are a little bit spoiled. Suffice it to say that it is harder to wake up if you keep your eyes closed.


Anonymous said...

[As is the case in North Dakota. As it is in rural just about everywhere in the industrialized world.]

Why did you have to mention North Dakota? :p

According to this ABC report:

[Bismarck is booming. In this North Dakota city, an economic portrait has emerged that is unlike any other in America. When landing in the state, the signs of growth can be seen everywhere.

Lines at the airport are longer than ever -- a record number of passengers entered the state last year, and a new hangar is getting built to accommodate the droves that are still coming. The airport is trying to get the hangar finished before winter hits, which could be any day.

Jobs are also in season. Help wanted signs are visible everywhere. Insurance sales, restaurants, retail -- they are all hiring.

There are 16,000 jobs up for grabs in North Dakota right now, with 3,000 in Bismarck, where unemployment is at a stunningly low 3 percent.]

Anonymous said...

Will those jobs go unfilled? Well, according to this USA Today report:

["It's a zoo," said Terry Ayers, who drove into town from Spokane, Wash., slept in his truck, and found a job within hours of arrival, tripling his salary. "It's crazy what's going on out here."

The reason?

Billions of dollars are coming into the state and thousands of people are following—all because millions of barrels of oil are flowing out.

The result: A good, old-fashioned oil boom.

Here are some examples of what a boom is like in 2011.

There's no available housing, so people sleep in truck stops and Wal-Mart Stores' parking lots.

Developers have expanded plans from just a few dozen new homes and are now building hundreds of houses and thousands of apartment units.

The McDonald's in Williston is one of the busiest in the country, and they need to pay $15 an hour just to attract employees to work there.

And then, there's the trucks—thousands of them—on country roads. There's one left turn in Williston that can get so backed up with truck traffic, it can take hours to get through the intersection.]

Anonymous said...

Indeed, the entire state actually has a 3% unemployment rate, best among all the states.

Many Canadians and Americans are aware that North Dakota is experiencing the classic boomtown phenomenon.

See the change in population growth rate since 2006 here.

This is the cause.

Moreover, you might note that since census taking (apparently) began in 1870, North Dakota has never experienced a severe depopulation event, even though ND did experience a previous economic bust period when their last oil boom ended.

From the chart provided by Wiki, between 1920-2012, you can see that the population of ND has bounced up and down between ~617,000-684,000. Today, there is reason to believe that ND will grow beyond historic norm.

Anonymous said...

According to this local paper, one state official believes that this current boom may grow the state to the 1 million resident mark:

[Officials said Thursday that an estimate by the state’s top oil regulator of a population increase to 1 million in a few years is possible but only if the growth is properly managed.

With record oil and gas production driving a period of historic growth, North Dakota may eventually reach a population of 1 million. Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources, provided the estimate Wednesday at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference.

Helms told the crowd that the state’s oil production could reach 1 million barrels per day by 2015. North Dakota is now producing more than 575,000 barrels per day and is the number two oil-producing state behind Texas.

He said with this level of production it could drive the state’s population up to 1 million.

According to a 2011 estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau, the state’s population sits at an all-time high of 683,932. This is an increase of more than 11,300 in the past year following the 2010 Census.

At 1 million barrels North Dakota would be close to overtaking Texas for number one. Texas oil production was 1.1 million barrels per day in February, according to the state’s most recent data available.

Jeff Zent, a spokesman for Gov. Jack Dalrymple, said the governor is pleased that the state’s population is on the rise after decades of decline.

“To talk about a population of a million, it’s speculative at this point,” Zent said. “We haven’t seen any data that backs that up.”]

Anonymous said...

BTW, I would have thought that a Japan watcher would have noticed what is happening in ND. What is happening in ND may not have direct relevance to Japan, but it is part of the North American energy renaissance, which will have significant global impact.

The related US boom in gas and the coming gas booms in Canada and Mexico have direct relevance to Japanese energy price and availability. The US is likely to allow lng export soon.

According to Daniel Yergin:

[A I was on a commission that President Obama set up to look at the environmental issues around fracking and the conclusion from the scientist group was that the chemical risks are very small: they are using small amounts of chemicals at very great depths, there is wastewater treatment, [they are] minimizing local air pollution and community impact. They are all manageable and this is the conclusion that we came to and this became the position of the Obama administration.

There is still a lot of agitation about it, but the reality is that shale gas is 37% of U.S. natural gas production and it has created 1.7 million jobs in the last few years.]

The likelihood of export is high enough that the anti-fracking movement is trying to stop it.

Post-Fukushima Japan is, of course, one of the likeliest destinations for cheap US lng.

Michael Thomas Cucek said...

Anonymous -

Thank you for the hiding.

When I left the United States, a long time ago, rural North and South Dakota was emptying out.

Funny what a change in extractive technology can do.