Population 2010, n°1
DEMOGRAPHY OF THE WORLD’S REGIONS: SITUATION AND TRENDS
- The Demography of Oceania, from the 1950s to the 2000s. A Summary of Changes and a Statistical Assessment - J.-L. Rallu
- Estimating Age without Measuring it: A New Method in Paleodemography - H. Caussinus, D. Courgeau
- Changes in the Seasonality of Births in France from 1975 to the Present - A. Régnier-Loilier
- Choosing the Time of Year for Births: A Barely Perceptible Phenomenon in France - A. Régnier-Loilier
The Demography of Oceania, from the 1950s to the 2000s. A Summary of Changes and a Statistical Assessment
Oceania is made up of 17 independent countries and 6 territories totalling 35 million inhabitants, of which 73% live in Australia and New Zealand. This chronicle describes the major socio-demographic and health trends since the 1950s in the region as a whole, in its four sub-regions (Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia and Australia - New Zealand) and, where possible, in each country. The most reliable recent data are given in an statistical appendix. An introductory presentation of the region’s geographical, institutional and economic diversity is followed by a description of demographic growth rates, population size and structure, nuptiality, fertility and its determinants, mortality (overall, infant, maternal), child health, migration, urbanization and access to education. As in the other regions of the world, the demographic regimes in Oceania have diversified over the last two decades. Natural growth is slowing down, but still ranges between 0.6% and more than 2% per year in the different countries. Fertility is declining everywhere, but levels are highly contrasting (around 2 children per woman in six countries, above 4 in seven others). Life expectancy is also increasing, but varies between 61 years in the subregion of Melanesia and 80 years in Australia - New Zealand. Likewise, infant mortality ranges from 5 to 50 per 1,000. The proportion of urban dwellers is quite small in most of the island countries. Migration has played a major role in the population dynamics of Oceania, and continues to do so, notably through the emigration of young adults. Access to education is practically universal in the vast majority of countries.
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Estimating Age without Measuring it: A New Method in Paleodemography
Henri Caussinus, Daniel Courgeau
To estimate the structure of past populations by age at death, with only biological indicators available, paleodemographers have developed several methods that rely on a reference population whose biological indicators and ages at death are known. First, we examine these approaches with their underlying assumptions, and show their weaknesses. To remedy these shortcomings, we propose a new statistical method that provides a more reliable estimate of the age distribution of deaths. It is a Bayesian method, whose principle and practical use involve choosing a prior distribution, determining a posterior distribution, and applying credibility intervals. A simulation-based comparison with earlier methods shows the clear superiority of our approach, which we then apply to actual archaeological data. The article concludes with an overview of the main advantages of the proposed method: flexibility and efficiency.
Changes in the Seasonality of Births in France from 1975 to the Present
Over the past thirty years, the seasonal pattern of births in France has evolved gradually, with a loss in amplitude and a shift of the mode from May to September. The reasons for these changes remain difficult to determine. Nonetheless, exhaustive data from civil records combined with abortion statistics provide an explanation for the current distribution of births, with the September "peak" corresponding to a surplus of conceptions on New Year’s Eve. There are several discontinuities in the seasonal pattern, however. For instance, the major heat waves observed since 1975 have led to fewer deliveries nine months later. The decrease in births observed in late summer 1975 may have been the result of the Veil Act legalizing abortion. This interpretation must be taken with caution, however, as the effect was short-lived.
Choosing the Time of Year for Births: A Barely Perceptible Phenomenon in France
Intentional timing by couples was one of the explanations put forward for the spring birth peak observed in France in the 1970s and 1980s. At first sight, recent changes in seasonality, characterized by a shift in the mode and a reduction in amplitude, appear to challenge this hypothesis. However, data from two recent surveys, which included specific questions on this topic, as well as from the registry of births, show that a non-negligible proportion of couples deliberately discontinue birth control in order to have a child at a particular time of the year. Their decision seems to be driven mainly by the attraction of the summer months and by job-related concerns. When the seasonal birth rates are broken down according to the woman’s occupation, we find distinctive patterns for three categories: "farmers", "self-employed: business, trade and crafts" and, above all, "primary-school teachers". The majority of the latter give birth in spring - far fewer have children in July and August - so that their maternity leave will run into the long summer holidays.
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