Friday, September 30, 2016

Fertility rates may be dropping, but not that fast

Sometimes I can be idly reading through some fluff when I get stopped in my tracks. That happened this morning when I read in the NZ Herald:

According to the 2014 US Census, 47.6 per cent of women go through their peak-fertility years (ages 15 to 44) without giving birth.
This can only be read as 47.6% of women over 44 don't have children.

A ridiculous claim. So I googled it, betting it was a mangling of some fact by the writer.

The Huffington Post describes what is actually happening:

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, in 2014, 47.6 percent of women between age 15 and 44 had never had children, up from 46.5 percent in 2012. This represents the highest percentage of childless women since the bureau started tracking that data in 1976.
Time reported that this pattern is particularly pronounced for women between 25 and 29 — 49.6 percent of women in that age group don’t have kids. Unsurprisingly, after age 30 those numbers drop and more women become moms. The survey found that 28.9 percent of women ages 30-34 are childfree.
And it will drop further after age 34.

From the US census:

2.0 - Average number of children that women age 40 to 44 had given birth to as of 2014, down from 3.1 children in 1976, the year the Census Bureau first began collecting such data. The percentage of women in this age group who had ever given birth was 85 percent in 2014, down from 90 percent in 1976.

So now we have 15% of women go through their peak fertility years (15-44) without giving birth.

Fertility rates may be dropping, but not that fast.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Court statistics - good news story?

Coincidentally, on the same day that the country was reacting en masse to the discharge without conviction of a young rugby player who brutally assaulted a group of people on the street in Wellington, the latest youth court statistics were released. They show a continuing fall in the numbers of young people being charged.

Adult statistics graphed look similar:

The cynic in me questions sudden reverses in trends always looking for some fish hook. Especially when the prison population is growing. According to Corrections:

The Department of Corrections has embarked on a major recruitment drive and aims to employ around 600 new Corrections Officers by September 2017, with at least 500 of them coming from New Zealand.
The new recruits are needed because the prison population is expected to reach 10,000 by 2017. This increase is due to more people being held in prison on remand than previously. Legislative changes have also meant prisoners serve more of their sentence in prison, and there has been an increase in prisoners serving longer sentences for more serious crimes. 
NZ Lawyer recently published an article about the falling court statistics.
Here's one explanation:

“The police have made greater use of pre-charge warnings and alternative mechanisms (eg, community and iwi justice panels) to ensure minor offending is more appropriately dealt with.”

I suspect that is the major reason. Not an improvement in behaviour. Serious offending continues at the same levels.