Happy new year everyone! We here at Demography is Destiny hope that you had a fantastic holiday break with family wherever you are in the world. Here in New Zealand Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were terribly wet and miserable, but since then the sun has come out for good. Long, hot days have been spent at the beach and balmy evenings have been spent watering the wilting garden. Our two boys have enjoyed swimming and eating stone fruit (plums and nectarines are a big hit!) and our little daughter (nearly 10 months old now!) is enjoying everything we’ve put in front of her – she is such a hearty eater!

Anyway, 2019 is now upon us and we are nearly a fifth of the way through the twenty-first century, a century in which the world’s population will in all likelihood peak and then start to decline. As readers of this blog will know, many countries are already relying on migration to prop up their population growth already and some are already actually falling in population. These latter countries, Japan being the obvious one, are excellent canaries in the coalmine: examples of what other countries can expect when their populations also begin to decline. So there will be plenty to keep an eye on this year on Demography is Destiny. Don’t go away!

Today though is something lighter – apparently half of the world (aged four and over) watched the 2018 Football World Cup in Russia. According to a new audit by football’s governing body, FIFA, 3.572 billion people enjoyed at least some of the tournament, with an average of 191 million people watching each of the 64 games and 1.2 billion people watching the final as France beat Croatia (boo!) The total viewing figures included nearly 310 million people watching the action in public places or digitally. Furthermore, the viewers of the 2018 tournament tended to view for longer than previous tournaments with the number of people watching three minutes or longer increasing 11 per cent from the last tournament in Brazil.

Football really is the global game, and these figures emphasises the games’ spread and popularity. It also shows, if we needed an example, how interconnected we are now. When half of the world can experience a sporting tournament in real time, what happens in a far off land need not be something that passes unnoticed or without impact on the rest of the world.

Marcus Roberts is a Senior Researcher at the Maxim Institute in Auckland, New Zealand, and was co-editor of the former MercatorNet blog, Demography is Destiny. Marcus has a background in the law, both...