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Interesting Links 2

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (Selection)

This Openpop blog is written by one of the foremost authorities on the topic of sex-selection (choosing the sex of one’s offspring pre-nataly).  While, I don’t wish to replicate anything that Christophe says in his excellent blog I think it is important to note that more and more countries are affected by sex-selection.  My own research indicated that Nepal was beginning to experience sex-selective abortions very recently.  There are also many countries which currently have high fertility and restrictive abortion policies, but may experience sex-selective abortion when fertility declines and/or abortion laws are liberalised (e.g. Afghanistan, Mauritania or Pakistan).  We have already seen the phenomenon spread from East and South Asia to Eastern Europe.  The question of where might experience widespread prenatal sex selection is an important academic question for today.

Where are the Refugees Coming from?

A recent piece published in Time charts the world refugee population by place of origin over the past 65 years.  Given the recent widespread news coverage of the refugee crisis in the British media, I think it’s important to take a look at some actual numbers.  While there is a genuine increase in the number of refugees from the Middle East, it is interesting that the number of refugees globally remains substantially below the peak recorded level in 1992.  The media has also failed to mention that the number of migrants from Africa and Asia grew last year, as well as those from the Middle East.  Of course, we are missing a vital piece of information in this graphic, which is the destination of migrants.

Stuffing Data Gaps with Dollars

Recent research from Brookings finds has calculated the annual extra financing required to fill the data gap.  As someone who relies on secondary data in order to conduct research this is a topic close to my heart.  For those of you unfamiliar with the issue, there are large swathes of the world’s population living in places where we know trivially little about the demographics, health and living standards.  In some countries we rely on surveys and censuses that are many decades old.  People look at data sheets produced by the Population Reference Bureau or the United Nations and assume that the numbers they see are facts.  On the contrary, some of these numbers are little more than educated guesses.  For example, the last Population Census in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1983!  Encouragingly, Brookings find that the financing gap for health and living standards surveys is just $23 million per year.  Less encouragingly, they suggest that the data gap is largely being caused by non-financial constraints.

Who Wants a Nobel, When You Could Win an Ig Nobel?

Finally, the 25th Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded in September.  The Ig Nobel Prizes are described as honouring “achievements that make people LAUGH, and then THINK”.  My personal favourite this year was the Mathematics Prize won by Elisabeth Oberzaucher, who attempted to work out if/how it was possible for a Moroccan Emperor to father 888 children.  Anyone who can use the phrase “How many copulations a day must a man have” as a genuine sub-title in a PLOS ONE journal article is a hero in my eyes.  A Special mention should probably also go to the Economics Prize, which was won by the Bangkok Metropolitan Police for paying extra cash to police officers if they turned down bribes.


About the Author:

Dr Melanie Channon (nee Frost) is a Research Fellow at the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing working on the Collen Programme. Melanie is a trained demographer and social statistician, and her primary areas of research interest are the drivers of fertility transition in developing countries, son preference, and gender statistics.   She has expertise in the demography of both Asia and Africa, with a focus on Nepal and South Asia.

Opinions of the blogger is their own and not endorsed by the Institute

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