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HKU-CUHK Joint Sociological Forum Series 2019 : The population ‘Problem’ in Pacific Asia

By Prof Gietel-Basten, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Tue 19 Mar 2019
1:00 - 2:15 pm


Room 929, 9/F, The Jockey Club Tower, HKU

In Pacific Asia, the ‘Population Problem’ of rapid ageing and demographic decline brought about by very low fertility is perceived to be an existential threat to economic growth, the sustainability of social welfare systems, even to nations and cultures themselves. It is painted as a ’National Security Threat’. Young people – and women in particular – are ’blamed’ for eschewing their generational responsibility; bringing about a ’social recession’. Pronatalist policies (of a more or less explicit nature) are being implemented across the region.

However, in my new book, I argue that we should rather be focusing on how this ‘problem’ has come about. People want to get married and have children – and ideally more than one. However, malfunctioning institutions are clearly preventing these aspirations from being met. The real ‘problem’, then, is that governments and employers have taken a lazy approach to the causes and consequences of very low fertility. They are to blame.

Prof Gietel-Basten’s research covers the links between population and policy, with a regional focus on Asia. In particular, he is interested in the emergence of low fertility across the region, and the consequences of this in terms of population ageing and growth. He has been published in a number of major journals in demography and other social science subjects. In 2017, his first book, Why Demography Matters (Polity Press, co-written with Danny Dorling) was published. In 2018, he edited Family Demography in Asia (Elgar). His third book, The ‘ Population Problem’ in Pacific Asia (Oxford University Press) will be published in mid-2019. He is also a regular contributor to the South China Morning Post and China Daily.

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