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Generation Alpha

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Generation Alpha (Generation α, Gen Alpha or Gen α) is the demographic cohort succeeding Generation Z. Members of Generation Alpha are born between the early-2010s and the mid-2020s. Social researcher Mark McCrindle suggested the range 2010-2024.[1] Named after the first letter in the Greek alphabet, Generation Alpha is the first to be born entirely in the 21st century.[2] Most members of Generation Alpha are the children of Millennials[3] and sometimes Generations X, and Z.

Terminology[edit]

In 2005, social researcher Mark McCrindle coined the term "Generation Alpha" to identify the cohort born after Generation Z.[1] Scientific disciplines often move to the Greek alphabet after exhausting the Roman one.[4]

Demographics[edit]

General trends[edit]

Median age by country in years in 2017 (U.N.). The youth bulge is evident in parts of Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

As of 2015, there were some two and a half million people born every week around the globe; Generation Alpha is expected to reach two billion by 2025.[4] 2018 was the first time when the number of people above 65 years of age (705 million) exceeds those between the ages of zero and four (680 million). In other words, this was the first year in which there were more grandparents than grandchildren. If current trends continues, the ratio between these two age groups will top two by 2050.[5] Fertility rates have been falling around the world thanks to rising standards of living, greater access to contraceptives, and improved educational and economic opportunities. The global average fertility rate in 1950 was 4.7 but dropped to 2.4 in 2017. However, this average masks the huge variation between countries. Niger has the world's highest fertility rate at 7.1 while Cyprus has one of the lowest at 1.0. In general, the more developed of countries, including much of Europe, the United States, South Korea, and Australia, tend to have lower fertility rates.[6] People here tend to have children later and fewer of them.[5] Increasing immigration is problematic while policies that encourage people to have more children rarely succeed. Moreover, immigration is not an option at the global level.[6] At the same time, the global average life expectancy has gone from 52 in 1960 to 72 in 2017.[5]

Africa[edit]

Statistical projections from the United Nations in 2019 suggest that, by 2020, the people of Niger would have a median age of 15.2, Mali 16.3, Chad 16.6, Somalia, Uganda, and Angola all 16.7, the Democratic Republic of the Congo 17.0, Burundi 17.3, Mozambique and Zambia both 17.6. (This means that more than half of their populations were born in the first two decades of the twenty-first century.) These are the world's youngest countries by median age. While a booming population can induce substantial economic growth, if healthcare, education, and economic needs were not met, there would be chronic youth unemployment, low productivity, and social unrest. Investing in human capital is crucial.[7]

While Africa is the world's most fertile region, it also has the world's highest child mortality rates.[5]

Asia[edit]

As a result of cultural ideals, government policy, and modern medicine, there has been severe gender imbalances in China and India. According to the United Nations, in 2018, China and India had a combined 50 million of excess males under the age of 20. Such a discrepancy fuels loneliness epidemics, human trafficking (from elsewhere in Asia, such as Cambodia and Vietnam), and prostitution, among other societal problems.[8] China's fertility rate bumped in 2016 but subsequently returned to its downward path. In 2018, the total number of live births in China fell to the lowest point in 50 years.[9] Less than 6% of China's population was under five years old that year, compared to 3.85% in Japan.[5] Such a trend has fueled predictions of dreadful socioeconomic problems.[9]

Singapore's total fertility rate continues to decline in the 2010s, as more and more young people are choosing to delay to eschew marriage and parenthood. It reached 1.14 in 2018, making it the lowest since 2010 and one of the lowest in the world. Reasons for this include digital disruption, uncertainties surrounding global trade, and climate change. The median age for first-time mothers rose from 29.7 in 2009 to 30.6 in 2018, which poses a problem because fertility declines with age. Meanwhile, the death rate has been increasing since 1998; Singapore now faces an aging population.[10] In fact, Singapore's birth rate has been below the replacement level of 2.1 since the 1980s, and appears to be stabilizing by during the first two decades of the twenty-first century. Government incentives such as the baby bonus have proven insufficient to raise the birth rate.[11] At the 2019 Forbes Global CEO Conference, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that one of the major issues facing his country is finding the right demographic balance. "To secure our future, we must make our own babies, enough of them. Because if all of the next generation are not our own, then where do they come from and what is the point of this?" he said. Lee added that the long-term goal of his government is to maintain a workforce that is two-thirds Singaporean, with the rest being brought in from overseas. He argued that such a ratio is manageable while relaxing immigration restriction would be "unwise" because "there is no shortage of people who want to come."[12]

Singapore's experience mirrors those of Japan and South Korea.[11] South Korea's fertility rate dropped below 1.0 in 2018 for the first time since that country began keeping statistics in 1970. The figure for 2017 was also a record low, at 1.05. Since 2005, the government has spent a fortune on child subsidies and campaigns promoting reproduction but without much success. Possible reasons for Korea's abysmal fertility rate include the high cost of raising a child, high youth unemployment, the burden of childcare on career-minded women, a stressful education system, and high levels of competition in Korean society. In South Korea, because marriage is usually associated with child-rearing, it is extremely rare for children to be born out of wedlock. That figure stood at 1.9% as of 2017. By contrast, in some other developed countries, such as France and Norway, it is not uncommon for children to be born to unmarried couples, at 55% or higher.[13]

According to Taiwan's National Development Council (NDC), the nation's population could start shrinking by 2022 and the number of people of working age could fall 10% by 2027. About half of Taiwanese would be aged 50 or over by 2034.[14] According to the NDC, Taiwan reached the stage of being an aging society – one in which the number of people aged 65 and up is about 7% – in 1993. Like South Korea, Taiwan has since moved from being an aging society to an aged one, where the number of elderly people exceeds 14%. It therefore takes the country just 25 years, compared to 17 for South Korea. During the 2010s, Taiwan's fertility rate hovered just above 1.0.[15][16] In fact, data from the Ministry of the Interior shows it has consistently been below 1.5 since 2001.[16] (In 2010, Taiwan's fertility rate actually fell below 1.0 because it was thought to be a bad year to have children because he previous year was considered inauspicious for marriage.) Many couples still live with their parents, and the older generation expects women to stay at home, take care of children, and do house chores.[17] Stipends and subsidies from the government have been unsuccessful in encouraging more people to reproduce,[17] but the government has added more money for childcare, education, and birth subsidies.[14] The government is also considering immigration policies that attract highly skilled workers from other countries,[16] and to make English an official language.[14]

At the current rate, Taiwan is set to transition from an aged to super-aged society, where 21% of the population is over 65 years of age, in eight years, compared to seven years for Singapore, eight years for South Korea, 11 years for Japan, 14 for the United States, 29 for France, and 51 for the United Kingdom.[15] As of 2018, Japan was already a super-aged society,[16] with 27% of its people being older than 65 years.[5] According to government data, Japan's total fertility rate was 1.43 in 2017.[18]

Europe[edit]

In 2018, 19.7% of the population the European Union as a whole was at least 65 years old.[5]

Italy is a country where the problem of an aging population is especially acute. The fertility rate dropped from about four in the 1960s down to 1.2 in the 2010s. This is not because young Italians do not want to procreate. Quite the contrary, having a lot of children is an Italian ideal. But its economy has been floundering since the Great Recession of 2007-8, with the youth unemployment rate at a staggering 35% in 2019. Many Italians have moved abroad – 150,000 did in 2018 – and many are young people pursuing educational and economic opportunities. With the plunge in the number of births each year, the Italian population is expected to decline in the next five years.[19] The Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT) reported that the number of babies born in 2018 in Italy was the lowest since the unification of Italy in 1861.[9] Moreover, the Baby Boomers are retiring in large numbers, and their numbers eclipse those of the young people taking care of them. Only Japan has an age structure more tilted towards the elderly.[19] In 2018, 23% of the Italian population was above the age of 65, compared to 27% for Japan.[5] One solution to this problem is incentivizing reproduction, as France has done, by investing in longer parental leaves, daycare, and tax exemptions for parents. As of 2019, France has approximately the same population as Italy but 65% more births. Another solution is immigration, which has been alleviating the decline, but it does not come without political backlash.[19]

Greece also suffers from a serious demographic problem as many young people are leaving the country in search of better opportunities elsewhere. The fertility rate fell to just 1.3 per woman, well below the replacement level, as of 2019. In 2010, 115,000 children were born; that number had dropped to 92,000 in 2015.This brain drain and a rapidly aging population could spell disaster for the country.[20]

The Spanish National Institute of Statistics reported that the number of babies born in Spain in 2018 was the lowest since 1998 and a 40.7% drop compared to 2008. This is due to the fact that there were fewer women of childbearing age in Spain than in the past, and that modern Spaniards are having fewer children.[9]

The United Nations Population Division projected that Russia, which had a birth rate of 1.75 in 2018, would find its population drop from 143 million down to 132 million by 2050.[5]

Oceania[edit]

Australia's total fertility rate has fallen from above three in the post-war era, to about replacement level (2.1) in the 1970s to below that in the late 2010s. It stood at 1.74 in 2017. However, immigration has been offsetting the effects of of a declining birthrate. In the 2010s, among the residents of Australia, 5% were born in the United Kingdom, 2.5% from China, 2.2% from India, and 1.1% from the Philippines. 84% if new arrivals in the fiscal year of 2016 were below 40 years of age, compared to 54% of those already in the country. Like other immigrant-friendly countries, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Australia's working-age population is expected to grow till about 2025. However, the ratio of people of working age to dependents and retirees (the dependency ratio) has gone from eight in the 1970s to about four in the 2010s. It could drop to two by the 2060s, depending in immigration levels.[21] "The older the population is, the more people are on welfare benefits, we need more health care, and there's a smaller base to pay the taxes," Ian Harper of the Melbourne Business School told ABC News (Australia).[22] While the government has scaled back plans to increase the retirement age, to cut pensions, and to raise taxes due to public opposition, demographic pressures continue to mount as the buffering effects of immigration are fading away.[21] Australians coming of age in the early twenty-first century are more reluctant to have children compared to their predecessors due to economic reasons: higher student debt, expensive housing, and negative income growth.[22]

North America[edit]

In Canada, about one in five Millennials were delaying having children because of financial worries. Canada's average non-mortgage debt was CAN$20,000 in 2018.[23] Research by the Royal Bank of Canada suggests that Canadian Millennials have been flocking to the large cities in spite of their expensive costs of living between the mid- and late 2010s in search of economic opportunities and cultural amenities.[24]

As their economic prospects improve, most American Millennials say they desire marriage, children, and home ownership.[25] While Millennials were initially responsible for the so-called "back-to-the-city" trend,[26] by the late 2010s, Millennial homeowners were more likely to be in the suburbs than the cities.[27] Besides the cost of living, including housing costs, people are leaving the big cities in search of warmer climates, lower taxes, better economic opportunities, and better school districts for their children.[28][29][30] As of 2016, there were some 11 million Millennial parents in the U.S., who gave birth to some 9,000 children each day.[31]

A report from the Brookings Institution stated that in the United States, the Millennials are a bridge between the largely Caucasian pre-Millennials (Generation X and their predecessors) and the more diverse post-Millennials (Generation Z and their successors).[32] Overall, the number of births to Caucasian women in the United States dropped 7% between 2000 and 2018. Among foreign-born Caucasian women, however, the number of births increased by 1% in the same period. Although the number of births to foreign-born Hispanic women fell from 58% in 2000 to 50% in 2018, the share of births due to U.S.-born Hispanic women increased from 20% in 2000 to 24% in 2018. The number of births to foreign-born Asian women rose from 19% in 2000 to 24% in 2018 while that due to U.S.-born Asian women went from 1% in 2000 to 2% in 2018. In all, between 2000 and 2017, more births were to foreign-born than U.S.-born women.[33]

Provisional data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that U.S. fertility rates have fallen below the replacement level of 2.1 since 1971. In 2017, it dropped to 1.765, the lowest in three decades. However, there is great variation in terms of geography, age groups, and ethnicity. South Dakota had the highest birth rate at 2,228 per a thousand women and the District of Columbia the lowest at 1,421. Besides South Dakota, only Utah (2,121) had a birth rate above replacement level.[34] From 2006 to 2016, women whose ages range from the mid-20s to the mid-30s maintain the highest birth rates of all while those in their late 30s and early 40s have seen significant increases in birth rates.[35] Overall, births fell for Asians, blacks, Hispanics, and whites but remained stable for native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.[36] Meanwhile, the number of births given by teenagers, which reached ominous levels in the 1990s, have plummeted by about 60%. This is thanks in no small part to the collapse of birth rates among Black and Hispanic teens, down 50% from 2006.[37] 15.4% of the U.S. population was over 65 years of age in 2018.[5]

That U.S. fertility rates continue to drop is anomalous to demographers because fertility rates typically track the nation's economic health. It was no surprise that U.S. fertility rates dropped during the Great Recession of 2007-8. But the U.S. economy has shown strong signs of recovery for some time, and birthrates continue to fall. In general, however, American women still tend to have children earlier than their counterparts from other developed countries and the U.S. total fertility rate remains comparatively high for a rich country. It remains unclear whether young Americans in the 2010s are postponing reproduction or forgoing it altogether.[36]

Below-replacement-level fertility rates could lead to labor shortages in the future. Speaking to the Associated Press, family specialist Karen Benjamin Guzzo from Bowling Green State University in Ohio recommended childcare subsidies, preschool expansion, (paid) parental leave, housing assistance, and student debt reduction or forgiveness.[36]

Education[edit]

Asia[edit]

In order to boost the nation's birthrate, in 2019, the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe introduced a number of education reforms. Starting October 2019, preschool education will be free for all children between the ages of three and five. Childcare will be free for children under the age of two from low-income households. These programs will be funded by a consumption tax hike, from eight to ten percent. Starting April 2020, entrance and tuition fees for public as well as private universities will be waived or reduced. Students from low-income and tax-exempt families will be legible for financial assistance to help them cover textbook, transportation, and living expenses. The whole program is projected to cost ¥776 billion (US$7.1 billion) per annum.[18]

Europe[edit]

In France, while year-long mandatory military service for men was abolished in 1996 by President Jacques Chirac, who wanted to build a professional all-volunteer military,[38] all citizens between 17 and 25 years of age must still participate in the Defense and Citizenship Day, when they are introduced to the French Armed Forces, and take language tests.[38] In 2019, President Emmanuel Macron introduced something similar to mandatory military service, but for teenagers, as promised during his presidential campaign. Known as the Service National Universel or SNU (fr:Service national universel), it is a compulsory civic service. While students will not have to shave their heads or handle military equipment, they will have to sleep in tents, get up early (at 6:30 am), participate in various physical activities, raise the tricolor, and sing the national anthem. They will have to wear a uniform, though it is more akin to the outfit of security guards rather than military personnel. This program takes a total of four weeks. In the first two, youths learn how to provide first aid, how navigating with a map, how to recognize fake news, emergency responses for various scenarios, and self-defense. In addition, they get health checks and get tested on their mastery of the French language, and they participate in debates on a variety of social issues, including environmentalism, state secularism, and gender equality. In the second fortnight, they volunteer with a charity for local government. The aim of this program is to promote national cohesion and patriotism, at a time of deep division on religious and political grounds, to get people out of their neighborhoods and regions, and mix people of different socioeconomic classes, something mandatory military service used to do. Supporters thought that teenagers rarely raise the national flag, spend too much time on their phones, and felt nostalgic for the era of compulsory military service, considered a rite of passage for young men and a tool of character-building. Critics argued that this program is inadequate, and would cost too much.[39] The SNU is projected to affect some 800,000 French citizens each year when it becomes mandatory for all aged 16 to 21 by 2026, at a cost of some €1.6 billion.[39] Another major concern is that it will overburden the French military, already stretched thin by counter-terrorism campaigns at home and abroad.[38] A 2015 IFOP poll revealed that 80% of the French people supported some kind of mandatory service, military, or civilian. At the same time, returning to conscription was also popular; supporters included 90% of the UMP party, 89% of the National Front (now the National Rally), 71% of the Socialist Party, and 67% of people aged 18 to 24. This poll was conducted after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks.[40]

North America[edit]

The American Academy of Pediatricians recommended that parents allow their children more time to play.

In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement summarizing progress on developmental and neurological research on unstructured time spent by children, colloquially 'play', and noting the importance of playtime for social, cognitive, and language skills development. This is because too many educators and parents, play has come to be seen as outdated and irrelevant.[41] In fact, between 1981 and 1997, time spent by children on unstructured activities dropped by 25% due to increased amounts of time spent on structured activities. Unstructured time tended to be spent on screens at the expense of active play.[42] The statement encourages parents and children to spend more time on "playful learning," which reinforces the intrinsic motivation to learn and discover and strengthens the bond between children and their parents and other caregivers. It also helps children handle stress and prevents "toxic stress," something that hampers development. Dr. Michael Yogman, the lead author of the statement, noted that play does not necessarily have to involve fancy toys; common household items would do as well. Moreover, parents reading to children also counts as play, because it encourages children to use their imaginations.[41]

In 2019, psychiatrists from the Canadian province of Quebec launched a campaign urging for the creation of courses on mental health for primary schoolchildren in order to teach them how to handle a personal or social crisis, and to deal with the psychological impact of the digital world. According to the Association des médecins psychiatres du Québec (AMPQ), this campaign focuses on children born after 2010, that is, Generation Alpha. In addition to the AMPQ, this movement is backed by the Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec (FMSQ), the Quebec Pediatric Association (APQ), the Association des spécialistes en médecine préventive du Québec (ASMPQ) and the Fondation Jeunes en Tête.[43][44]

Although the Common Core standards, an education initiative in the United States, eliminated the requirement that public elementary schools teach cursive writing in 2010, lawmakers from many states, including Illinois, Ohio, and Texas, have introduced legislation to teach it in theirs in 2019.[45] Some studies point to the benefits of handwriting – print or cursive – for the development of cognitive and motor skills as well as memory and comprehension. For example, one 2012 neuroscience study suggests that handwriting "may facilitate reading acquisition in young children."[46] Cursive writing has been used to help students with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, a disorder that makes it difficult to interpret words, letters, and other symbols.[47] Unfortunately, lawmakers often cite them out of context, conflating handwriting in general with cursive handwriting.[45] In any case, some 80% of historical records and documents of the United States, such as the correspondence of Abraham Lincoln, was written by hand in cursive, and students today tend to be unable to read them.[48] Historically, cursive writing was regarded as a mandatory, almost military, exercise. But today, it is thought of as an art form by those who pursue it, both adults and children.[46]

In 2013, less than a third of American public schools have access to broadband Internet service, according to the non-profit EducationSuperHighway. By 2019, however, that number reached 99%. This has increased the frequency of digital learning.[49]

Since the early 2010s, a number of U.S. states have taken steps to strengthen teacher education. Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas had the top programs in 2014. Meanwhile, Rhode Island, which previously had the nation's lowest bar on who can train to become a school teacher, has been admitting education students with higher and higher average SAT, ACT, and GRE scores. The state aims to accept only those with standardized test scores in the top third of the national distribution by 2020, which would put it in the ranks of education superpowers such as Finland and Singapore. In Finland, studying to become a teacher is as tough and prestigious as studying to become a medical doctor or a lawyer.[50]

Health problems[edit]

While food allergies have been observed by doctors since ancient times and virtually all foods can be allergens, research by the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota found they are becoming increasingly common since the early 2000s. Today, one in twelve American children has a food allergy, with peanut allergy being the most prevalent type. Reasons for this remain poorly understood.[51] Nut allergies in general have quadrupled and shellfish allergies have increased 40% between 2004 and 2019. In all, about 36% of American children have some kind of allergy. By comparison, this number among the Amish in Indiana is 7%. Allergies have also risen ominously in other Western countries. In the United Kingdom, for example, the number of children hospitalized for allergic reactions increased by a factor of five between 1990 and the late 2010s, as did the number of British children allergic to peanuts. In general, the better developed the country, the higher the rates of allergies.[52] Reasons for this remain poorly understood.[53] One possible explanation, supported by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is that parents keep their children "too clean for their own good." They recommend exposing newborn babies to a variety of potentially allergenic foods, such as peanut butter, before they reach the age of six months. According to this "hygiene hypothesis," such exposures give the infant's immune system some exercise, making it less likely to overreact. Evidence for this includes the fact that children living on a farm are consistently less likely to be allergic than their counterparts who are raised in the city, and that children born in a developed country to parents who immigrated from developing nations are more likely to be allergic than their parents are.[52]

Anatomical diagram of myopia or nearsightedness.

A 2015 study found that the frequency of nearsightedness has doubled in the United Kingdom within the last 50 years. Ophthalmologist Steve Schallhorn, chairman of the Optical Express International Medical Advisory Board, noted that researchers have pointed to a link between the regular use of handheld electronic devices and eyestrain. The American Optometric Association sounded the alarm on a similar vein.[54] According to a spokeswoman, digital eyestrain, or computer vision syndrome, is "rampant, especially as we move toward smaller devices and the prominence of devices increase in our everyday lives." Symptoms include dry and irritated eyes, fatigue, eye strain, blurry vision, difficulty focusing, headaches. However, the syndrome does not cause vision loss or any other permanent damage. In order to alleviate or prevent eyestrain, the Vision Council recommends that people limit screen time, take frequent breaks, adjust the screen brightness, change the background from bright colors to gray, increase text sizes, and blinking more often. Parents should not only limit their children's screen time but should also lead by example.[55]

A report by the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) released October 2019 stated that some 700 million children under the age of five worldwide are either obese or undernourished. Although there was a 40% drop in malnourishment in developing countries between 1990 and 2015, some 149 million toddlers are too short for their age, which hampers body and brain development. UNICEF's nutrition program chief Victor Aguayo said, "A mother who is overweight or obese can have children who are stunted or wasted." About one in two youngsters suffer from deficiencies of vitamins and minerals. Only two-fifths of infants are exclusively breastfed, as recommended by pediatricians and nutritionists, while the sale of formula milk jumped 40% globally. In middle-income countries such as Brazil, China, and Turkey, that number is 75%. Even though obesity was virtually non-existent in poor countries three decades ago, today, at least ten percent of children in them suffer from this condition. The report recommends taxes on sugary drinks and beverages and enhanced regulatory oversight of breast milk substitutes and fast foods.[56]

Use of electronic communications technology[edit]

Many members of Generation Alpha have grown up using smartphones and tablets as part of their childhood entertainment.[57] Some of their parents used electronic gadgets and pacifiers simultaneously.[2] In addition, electronic devices are also used to entertain them and as educational aids.[4] As a matter of fact, their parents the Millennials are heavy social media users. A 2014 report from cybersecurity firm AVG stated that 6% of parents created a social media account and 8% an email account for their baby or toddler. According to BabyCenter, an online company specializing in pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing, 79% of Millennial mothers used social media on a daily basis and 63% used their smartphones more frequently since becoming pregnant or giving birth. More specifically, 24% logged on to Facebook more frequently and 33% did the same to Instagram after becoming a mother. Non-profit advocacy group Common Sense Media warned that parents should take better care of their online privacy, lest their and their children's personal information and photographs fall into the wrong hands. In May 2015, a Utah mother reportedly found a photograph of her children on a social media post with pornographic hashtags.[58]

Predictions[edit]

The first wave of Generation Alpha will reach adulthood by the 2030s. By that time, the human population will be just under nine billion, and the world will have the highest proportion of people over 60 years of age in history,[59] meaning this demographic cohort will bear the burden of an aging population.[2] According to Mark McCrindle, a social researcher from Australia, Generation Alpha they will most likely delay standard life markers such as marriage, childbirth, and retirements, as did the few previous generations.[2] He also predicts that they will have a longer life expectancy and smaller family sizes.[4]

See also[edit]


Others articles of the Topic Society : Blow Buddies, Decentralization, Crowd
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References[edit]

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External links[edit]

[[:Category:21st century]] [[:Category:Demographics]]


This article "Generation Alpha" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical and/or the page Edithistory:Generation Alpha. Articles copied from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be seen on the Draft Namespace of Wikipedia and not main one.


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