South Korea’s population paradox

By Miriam Quick

With a rapidly ageing population, low birth rates and young people who are increasingly shunning marriage, South Korea is in a population conundrum.

When countries undergo economic change, the effects of the transition aren’t only financial – they have major population implications, too.

This is very much the case in South Korea where, over the last three generations, the country has evolved like few others due to rapid industrialisation. Today, South Korea has a $1.6 trillion economy – the fourth largest in Asia after China, Japan and India.

As South Korea has transformed so too has its population, and very quickly at that, leaving the country in a true population paradox.

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‘I wanted to meet a mate and have a baby without wasting time’: the rise of platonic co-parenting

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Jenica Anderson and Stephan DuVal, with their daughter.

They’re ready to start a family, but can’t wait for The One. As ‘mating’ sites boom under lockdown, we meet those hoping for a better way to raise a child

When Jenica Anderson and Stephan DuVal clicked on one another’s online profile on Modamily.com – tagline “A new way to family” – neither was looking for romance. They were both in their late 30s, and their short bios indicated that they shared similar views on health and education, had solid incomes and were searching for the same thing: a non-romantic partner to have – and raise – a child with. A co-parent.

Anderson, 38, a geologist from Montana, US, had matched with and spoken to 10 different men, mostly via so-called mating sites – matchmaking sites for people who want a baby without a romantic relationship – when she had her first phone call with DuVal, from Vancouver, Canada, in spring 2019. Their conversations quickly started to run into the night and, that June, she flew out to spend the weekend with him. They talked, went hiking and jumped into a lake together. “It felt like a date,” says DuVal, 37, a camera operator. “Except we could be totally honest about wanting to have a kid soon, without the goofiness and flirting of a first date. You’re looking to achieve a common goal.”

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The US should brace itself for a “national wave of fertility fraud”

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A new field of litigation has evolved in the United State: denouncing fertility fraud. In the latest episode, a nation-wide firm, Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway, announced that it was pursuing two fertility doctors who allegedly used their own sperm a generation ago to get women pregnant and without informing them.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, according to Adam Wolf, the lawyer handling the cases. He claims that hundreds of fertility fraud cases will emerge across the US as people begin to investigate their geneology using home DNA testing kits.

In the first case, a San Francisco woman discovered that both of her children were the offspring of her fertility doctor, Dr Michael S. Kiken. Furthermore, through Kiken, the children are carriers of Tay Sachs disease.

In the second case a San Diego woman sought the help of Dr Philip Milgram in 1988 for artificial insemination, which resulted in the birth of their son. Milgram told her that he had used the sperm of a healthy and anonymous sperm donor — but he allegedly used his own instead.

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The rise of the 3-parent family

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The typical path to parenthood didn’t work for David Jay, a founder of the asexual movement. So he designed his own household—and is trying to show others what is possible.

David Jay is the oldest of 12 cousins on one side of his family and the third-oldest of 24 cousins on the other. As a kid, family to Jay meant having a lot of people around, a feeling of community, and crucially, a sense of permanence, that these people would always be in his life. Later, as an adult living in collective housing, he could access the feeling of family with those around him, but the permanence was gone. His roommates started finding romantic partners, having children, and dispersing. Jay had always wanted his own family with kids—and had known, for almost as long, that he wouldn’t be able to build one the usual way.

Jay is the founder of the Asexual Visibility and Education Network and one of the most prominent people in the asexual movement. (Asexual people, or aces, don’t experience sexual attraction, though many do have sex and form romantic relationships.) After starting AVEN as a freshman at Wesleyan University in 2001, Jay spent years explaining asexuality to the public, speaking at events and talking to the press. As he grew older, the questions on his mind moved beyond identity and attraction to issues of parenting and family life.

The problem for Jay was never how babies are made, and fostering and adoption were options. The problem was that he wanted kids and also wanted a co-parent to help him raise kids, but wasn’t interested in romantic partnership. Before exploring single parenthood, he was curious whether there might be another way to form the family he wanted.

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Kids in the UK are now spending more money on ‘Fortnite’ and ‘Roblox’ than candy and books

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Childrens’ spending habits in the UK have shifted to online games such as “Roblox” and “Fortnite” since lockdown began, away from sweets and books, a pocket money app has reported.

Kids are also saving 14% more money than they did in 2019 — that’s £104 ($135) a year, RoosterMoney.

  • Lego, Roblox, and Apple are the top three brands that children save up for, the study found.
  • Online video games “Fortnite” and “Roblox” have overtaken sweets and books as the main target of kids’ pocket money spending in the UK, according to a pocket money app.

A study by RoosterMoney of 24,000 kids in the UK aged between four and 14 had Roblox, a virtual gaming platform, in top spot, followed by Epic Games’ “Fortnite,” a battle-royale video game.

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As wealthy parents turn to ‘pandemic pods,’ startups aim to make them equitable

 

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Affluent families were quick to explore pandemic pods as an alternative to solitary virtual school. Now, startups are looking for ways to make the model available to all.

In certain communities across America, learning pods, or pandemic pods, have become all the rage. Parents eager to offer their children socialization and some form of in-person instruction (and working parents simply eager to solve the problem of child care) are banding together to turn basements, garages, and living rooms into minischools for half a dozen families. Some families are hiring a teacher to supervise and lead activities, and some are relying on one another. Most plan to maintain enrollment in traditional school and use the pod as a supplement.

Almost as soon as learning pods emerged as a trend, concerns about equity followed. Not every family has the resources to hire a private teacher, and not every family lives in a community where homes have extra space for desks, bean bags, and art supplies. Indeed, in many cases, families are grappling with far more essential challenges, such as putting food on the table or finding stable shelter. In New York City alone, 114,000 children are homeless.

But for a growing number of entrepreneurs, that resource imbalance is a problem to be solved, not a reason to give up on learning pods entirely. They argue that with the right approach to design and funding, learning pods could become a solution that works for everyone.

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‘Schoolcations’ are the latest hotel trend to attract remote learners

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As the nation’s children head back to school, it’s clear that for many, the school year will be like none before.

 With many students learning remotely, some families are looking at ways to take advantage of what might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: to take their families out of their hometown and on vacation at a time of year when it would typically not be practical. It’s a silver lining in what many parents think will be a difficult year ahead.

Hotels in the U.S. and Mexico are offering distance-learning vacations with everything from dedicated “classroom” space to private tutors to tech support.

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If COVID Fatalities Were 90.2% Lower, How Would You Feel About Schools Reopening?

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According to the CDC, 101 children age 0 to 14 have died from influenza, while 31 children have died from COVID-19.

No evidence exists to support the theory that children pose a threat to educational professionals in a school or classroom setting, but there is a great deal of evidence to support the safety of in-person education.

According to the CDC, 131,332 Americans have died from pneumonia and 121,374 from COVID-19 as of July 11th, 2020.

Had the CDC used its industry standard, Medical Examiners’ and Coroners’ Handbook on Death Registration and Fetal Death Reporting Revision 2003, as it has for all other causes of death for the last 17 years, the COVID-19 fatality count would be approximately 90.2% lower than it currently is.

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Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott believes artificial intelligence will help reprogram the American dream

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Microsoft Chief Technology Officer Kevin Scott rise to his current post is about as unlikely as you will find. He grew up in Gladys, Virginia, a town of a few hundred people. He loved his family and his hometown to such an extent that he did not aspire to leave. He caught the technology bug in the 1970s by chance, and that passion would provide a ticket to bigger places that he did not initially seek.

The issue was one of opportunity. In his formative years, jobs were decreasing in places like Gladys just as they were increasing dramatically in tech hubs like Silicon Valley. After pursuing a PhD in computer science at the University of Virginia, he left in 2003 prior to completing his dissertation to join Google. He would rise to become a Senior Engineering Director there. He left Google for LinkedIn in 2011. He would eventually rise to become the Senior Vice President of Engineering & Operations at LinkedIn. From LinkedIn he joined Microsoft three and a half years ago as CTO. He is deeply satisfied with the course of his career and its trajectory, but part of him laments that it took him so far from his roots and the hometown that he loves.

As he reflected further on this conundrum, he put his thoughts to paper and published the book, Reprogramming the American Dream in April, co-authored by Greg Shaw. As he noted in a conversation I recently had with him, “Silicon Valley is a perfectly wonderful place, but we should be able to create opportunity and prosperity everywhere, not just in these coastal urban innovation centers.”

Scott believes that machine learning and artificial intelligence will be key ingredients to aiding an entrepreneurial rise in smaller towns across the United States. These advances will place less of a burden on companies to hire employees in the small towns, as some technical development will be conducted by the bots. He also hopes that as some of these businesses blossom, more kids will be inspired to start their own businesses powered by technology, creating a virtuous cycle of sorts.

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Wealthy parents are paying to have their kids homeschooled by professionals for up to 5 hours a day, and it shows how the pandemic is widening the gaps in America’s education system

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K-12 students have been educated online since March, and parents fear they are falling behind.

With most schools across the US closed since March to slow the spread of the coronavirus, some ultrawealthy parents are hiring private educators to make sure their kids don’t fall behind.

Some of these educators are former teachers or people who have degrees in education, and they charge between $25 and $60 an hour for their services.

Some parents may continue to employ these professionals to homeschool their kids even after schools reopen in the fall in case the US experiences a second wave of the coronavirus, as some experts expect.

Educators are concerned that lower-income families’ lack of internet access will further widen the achievement gap between rich and poor students when schools eventually reopen.

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On the cusp of adulthood and facing an uncertain future : What we know about Gen Z so far

 

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One-in-ten eligible voters in the 2020 electorate will be part of a new generation of Americans – Generation Z. Born after 1996, most members of this generation are not yet old enough to vote, but as the oldest among them turn 23 this year, roughly 24 million will have the opportunity to cast a ballot in November. And their political clout will continue to grow steadily in the coming years, as more and more of them reach voting age.

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Many parents will likely continue at-home learning in the fall, poll finds

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With the president pushing for children to return to the classroom and a number of states intent on pursuing phased reopenings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released guidance for reopening schools. But a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of USA Today has found that if schools reopen in the fall, they may find attendance down as many parents will likely continue at-home learning.

While more than half of Americans polled, just more than 2,000, said they supported a range of suggested proposals for reopening schools for in-classroom learning in the fall, a majority of the parents surveyed appeared hesitant to return their children to school before a vaccine had been found. A total of 59% of parents surveyed who had at least one child in a K-12 grade said they would “likely” pursue at-home education options such as homeschooling or remote learning instead of sending their children back into the classroom. Another 30% said they were “very likely” to continue to pursue at-home learning.

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