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‘Everyone should be concerned by these figures…’

Explaining the importance for EVERYBODY of dense information about population growth (because it has affected many of the stories he covered), has always been central for our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry, and it is underlined by new figures today which show that some countries are getting old before they become rich. 

Earlier Phil described how he was helped to break into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and making clear that the ‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.

He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Wales TV Current Affairs series, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off

Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge ofhistory and teaching the subject is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.

He has disclosed as well why investigative journalism is needed now more than ever although others have different opinions, how the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown played havoc with media schedules, and the importance of the hugely lower average age of some political leaders compared with when he started reporting. 


A growing population means growing benefits

It seems obscure, but EVERYONE should take note.

Whether a population is growing or not (and how old people are), is massively important, with it driving almost everything.

Older people need to be supported, and are unable to contribute so much to the economy; they require more health care, and make up a total pension figure which must be met by younger people who are in work.

The flag cannot be raised for population growth in Italy

It is therefore absolutely vital to know details about these things because they are fundamental to the future.

Let’s take the European examples first, starting with Italy. The population there is ageing and shrinking at the fastest rate in the West, forcing the country to adapt to a booming population of elderly that puts it at the forefront of a global demographic trend that experts call the “silver tsunami”.

But it is also facing a demographic double whammy, with a drastically sinking birthrate that is among the lowest in Europe.

Georgia Meloni has said Italy is “destined to disappear”

The fertility rate dropped to 1.22 last year, down from 1.25 in 2021, according to the statistics agency ISTAT, with only Spain the solitary large EU country to have a lower rate at 1.19.

The Prime Minister of Italy Giorgia Meloni has said her nation is “destined to disappear” unless it changes, and she has pledged billions of Euros in relief to help young women become mothers.

But Italy is not alone.

Protests in Germany may grow…

In Germany (which is already wracked by huge economic problems), the issue is less acute, although still worrying.

The expensive state-pension system there could face difficulty in years to come, as the baby-boomers retire.

The German working-age population is forecast to shrink by 3.5 million over the next decade, and anger about the situation may mount.

In the rich world the prime working-age population is growing at its slowest pace on record, and will probably start falling by the end of the decade.

The population of Wales is at a record

As populations shrink, the workforce gaps are likely to become so wide that it is hard to imagine politicians letting in enough immigrants to fill them – meaning that there is huge demand for blue collar workers.

In Wales, as well as in the UK generally, the situation is far less serious than in countries like Italy or Germany, although it must still be monitored closely.

On Census Day, March 21 2021, the size of the  population in Wales was 3,107,500; this was the largest population ever recorded through a census.

In Wales the population numbers need close monitoring

Yet there were also more people than ever before in the older age groups; the proportion of the population who were aged 65 years and over was 21.3 per cent (up from 18.4 per cent in 2011). In the UK it is projected that there will be an additional 7.5 million people aged 65 years and over in 50 years’ time.

New figures have highlighted a nightmare scenario – that some places abroad are actually getting OLDER before they get RICHER!

‘Others will have to support us now…’

In 2015 a long-running global demographic dividend came to an end as China’s working-age population peaked.

To understand how bad the problem is, compare Thailand’s transformation with those of countries better known for their greying populations, such as Italy.

Between 2002 and 2021 the share of Thailand’s population aged 65 and above increased from seven per cent to 14 per cent – thresholds that are widely used to define when a society has started ‘ageing’, and when it has grown ‘aged’.

Younger people in Thailand may not see it as a victory

The same transition took Japan 24 years, America 72 and France 115.

This has come even before Thailand has fully developed – its GDP per person in 2021 was $7,000. When Japan’s population was similarly aged, in 1994, its income level was nearly five times higher.

Pull the other one!

The Vietnamese are about half as rich as Thais, and their society will probably take only about 17 years to move from ‘ageing’ to ‘aged’.

Even in countries where ageing is taking longer, such as Indonesia (26 years) and the Philippines (37 years), it will happen at much lower levels of income than has been the case for others.

The future could be grim

South East Asia as a region will be ‘aged’ by 2042.

South Asia will hold out for almost another decade, but even here there will be major problems, and there are big regional disparities.

in Sri Lanka, for example, where average incomes were about a third below Thailand’s even before its current economic crisis, it is projected it will become an aged society by 2028.

Parts of India are already old

Parts of India, the world’s most populous country, are already old. In the southern state of Kerala, 17 per cent of the population is 60 or older.

So look at these figures carefully, even if they might seem arcane, because these things MATTER!



The memories of Phil’s decades long award-winning career in journalism (when unfortunate facts that influenced daily lives, were always reported) as he was gripped by the rare neurological disease Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order it now!

Publication of another book, however, was refused, because it was to have included names.

Paul Patterson – Fujitsu says sorry

Tomorrow – how news of a fulsome apology from Fujitsu over the enormous Post Office (PO) scandal, and concern about the public contracts they were handed, again throw the spotlight on the central role in the controversy played by Wales.