essay on population explosion in world

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Essay on population explosion in world cbre lawsuit term paper

Essay on population explosion in world

In short, every country that has changed from a predominantly rural agrarian society to a predominantly industrial urban society and has extended public education to near-universality, at least at the primary school level, has had a major reduction in birth and death rates of the sort depicted in Figure 1. The jagged line describing the variable current birth rate represents in some instances—notably the United States—a major recovery in the birth rate from its low point.

It must be remembered, however, that this recovery has not been caused by a reversion to uncontrolled family size. In the United States, for example, one can scarcely imagine that married couples have forgotten how to employ the contraceptive. We know, in fact, that more couples are skilled in the use of contraception today than ever before. Nevertheless, effective methods of controlling family size are still unknown and unused by many couples even in the United States.

The recent increase in the birth rate has been the result largely of earlier and more nearly universal marriage, the virtual disappearance of childless and one-child families, and a voluntary choice of two, three, or four children by a vast majority of American couples. There has been no general return to the very large family of pre-industrial times, although some segments of our society still produce many unwanted children. We turn now to a comparison of the present situation in the less-developed areas with the demographic circumstances in western Europe prior to the industrial revolution.

Figure 2 presents the trends of birth and death rates in the less-developed areas in a rough schematic way similar to that employed in Figure 1. Note first that the birth rate in the less-developed areas is higher than it was in pre-industrial western Europe. This difference results from the fact that in many less-developed countries almost all women at age 35 have married, and at an average age substantially less than in 18th-century Europe.

Second, many of the less-developed areas of the world today are much more densely populated than was western Europe at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Moreover, there are few remaining areas comparable to North and South America into which a growing population could move and which could provide rapidly expanding markets. Finally, and most significantly, the death rate in the less-developed areas is dropping very rapidly—a decline that looks almost vertical compared to the gradual decline in western Europe—and without regard to economic change.

The precipitous decline in the death rate that is occurring in the low-income countries of the world is a consequence of the development and application of low-cost public health techniques. Figure 2. Schematic presentation of birth and death rates in less-developed countries, midth century. The steep drop in the death rate from approximately 35 per thousand began at times varying roughly between and from country to country.

Instead, the less-developed areas have been able to import low-cost measures of controlling disease, measures developed for the most part in the highly industrialized countries. The use of residual insecticides to provide effective protection against malaria at a cost of no more than 25 cents per capita per annum is an outstanding example. Other innovations include antibiotics and chemotherapy, and low-cost ways of providing safe water supplies and adequate environmental sanitation in villages that in most other ways remain relatively untouched by modernization.

The death rate in Ceylon was cut in half in less than a decade, and declines approaching this in rapidity are almost commonplace. The result of a precipitous decline in mortality while the birth rate remains essentially unchanged is, of course, a very rapid acceleration in population growth, reaching rates of three to three and one-half per cent.

This extreme rate is undoubtedly due to temporary factors and would stabilize at not more than three per cent. But even at three per cent per year, two centuries would see the population of Mexico grow to about Two centuries is a long time, however. Might we not expect that long before years had passed the population of Mexico would have responded to modernization, as did the populations of western Europe, by reducing the birth rate? A positive answer might suggest that organized educational efforts to reduce the birth rate are not necessary.

But there is a more immediate problem demanding solution in much less than two centuries: Is the current demographic situation in the less-developed countries impeding the process of modernization itself? The combination of high birth rates and low or rapidly declining death rates now found in the less-developed countries implies two different characteristics of the population that have important impli-.

One important characteristic is rapid growth, which is the immediate consequence of the large and often growing difference between birth and death rates; the other is the heavy burden of child dependency which results from a high birth rate whether death rates are high or low. A reduced death rate has only a slight effect on the proportion of children in the population, and this effect is in a rather surprising direction.

The kinds of mortality reduction that have actually occurred in the world have the effect, if fertility remains unchanged, of reducing rather than increasing the average age of the population. Mortality reduction produces this effect because the largest increases occur in the survival of infants, and, although the reduction in mortality increases the number of old persons, it increases the number of children even more.

The result is that the high fertility found in low-income countries produces a proportion of children under fifteen of 40 to 45 per cent of the total population, compared to 25 per cent or less in most of the industrialized countries. What do these characteristics of rapid growth and very large proportions of children imply about the capacity to achieve rapid industrialization? It must be noted that it is probably technically possible in every less-developed area to increase national output at rates even more rapid than the very rapid rates of population increase we have discussed, at least for a few years.

The reason at least slight increases in per capita income appear feasible is that the low-income countries can import industrial and agricultural technology as well as medical technology. Briefly, the realistic question in the short run does not seem to be whether some increases in per capita income are possible while the population grows rapidly, but rather whether rapid population growth is a major deterrent to a rapid and continuing increase in per capita income.

A specific example will clarify this point. If the birth rate in India is not reduced, its population will probably double in the next 25 or 30 years, increasing from about million to about million. Agricultural experts consider it feasible within achievable limits of capital investment to accomplish a doubling of Indian agricultural output within the next 20 to 25 years.

In the same period the output of the non-agricultural part of the Indian economy probably would be slightly more than doubled if the birth rate remained unchanged. The real question is: Could India and the other less-developed areas of the world do substantially better if their birth rates and thus their population growth rates were reduced? Economic analysis clearly indicates that the answer is yes. Any growth of population adds to the rate of increase of national output that must be achieved in order to increase per capita output by any given amount.

To double per capita output in 30 years requires an annual increase in per capita output of 2. In either instance an economy, to grow, must divert effort and resources from producing for current consumption to the enhancement of future productivity. In other words, to grow faster an economy must raise its level of net investment. Net investment is investment in factories, roads, irrigation networks, and fertilizer plants, and also in education and training.

The low-income countries find it difficult to mobilize resources for these purposes for three reasons: The pressure to use all available resources for current consumption is great; rapid population growth adds very substantially to the investment targets that must be met to achieve any given rate of increase in material well-being; and the very high proportions of children that result from high fertility demand that a larger portion of national output must be used to support a very large number of non-earning dependents.

These dependents create pressure to produce for immediate consumption only. In individual terms, the family with a large number of children finds it more difficult to save, and a government that tries to finance development expenditures out of taxes can expect less support from a population with many children. Moreover, rapid population growth and a heavy burden of child dependency divert investment funds to less productive uses—that is, less productive in the long run.

To achieve a given level of literacy in a population much more must be spent on schools. In an expanding population of large families, construction effort must go into housing rather than into factories or power plants. Thus the combination of continued high fertility and greatly reduced mortality in the less-developed countries raises the levels of investment required while impairing the capacity of the economy to achieve high levels of investment.

Economists have estimated that a gradual reduction in the rate of childbearing, totaling 50 per cent in 30 years, would add about 40 per cent to the income per consumer that could be achieved by the end of that time. To recapitulate, a short-term increase in per capita income may be possible in most less-developed areas, even if the fertility rate is not reduced.

Nevertheless, even in the short run, progress will be much faster and more certain if the birth rate falls. In the longer run, economic progress will eventually be stopped and reversed unless the birth rate declines or the death rate increases. Economic progress will be slower and more doubtful if less-developed areas wait for the supposedly inevitable impact of modernization on the birth rate.

They run the risk that rapid population growth and adverse age distribution would themselves prevent the achievement of the very modernization they count on to bring the birth rate down. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

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Get This Book. Visit NAP. Looking for other ways to read this? No thanks. Suggested Citation: "World Population Problems. Some orthodox communities believe that any mandate or statutory method of prohibition is sacrilegious. The growth of the population has a major impact on the living standards of people. The natural resources of Earth are getting depleted because of the exponential growth of population.

These resources cannot be replenished so easily. If there is no check on the growth of population then there will be a day in the next few years when these natural resources will run out completely. There is a huge impact on the climatic conditions because of the growth of population. Human activities are responsible for changing global temperature. The rapid growth of population has caused major effects on our planet.

The rapidly growing population in the world has led to the problem of food scarcity and heavy pressure on land resources. Generating employment opportunities in vastly populated countries is very difficult. Development of infrastructural facilities is not able to cope up with the pace of a growing population. So facilities like transportation, communication, housing, education, and healthcare are becoming inadequate to provide provision to the people.

The increasing population leads to unequal distribution of income and inequalities among the people widened. There will be a large proportion of unproductive consumers due to overpopulation. Economic development is bound to be slower in developing countries in which the population is growing at a very fast rate. This also leads to low capital formation. Overpopulation makes it difficult to implement policies.

When there is rapid growth in a country then the government of that country is required to provide the minimum facilities for the people for their comfortable living. Hence, it has to increase housing, educational, public health, communication and other facilities that will increase the cost of the social overheads.

Rapid population growth is also an indication of the wastage of natural resources. To tackle this problem, the government of developing countries needs to take corrective measures. The entire development of the country depends on how effectively the population explosion is stemmed. The government and various NGOs should raise awareness about family planning and welfare.

The awareness about the use of contraceptive pills and family planning methods should be generated. The health care centres in developing and under-developed countries should help the poor people with the free distribution of contraceptives and encourage the control of the number of children. The government of developing countries should come forward to empower women and improve the status of women and girls.

People in rural places should be educated and modern amenities should be provided for recreation. Education plays a major role in controlling the population.

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Malthus already acquired this point of view by the end of the 18th century. On a local scale, migration also plays an important role. After all, the population there had started to grow at a historically unseen rate. More specifically the proletariat had grown immensely and that worried the intellectuals and the elite. Year after year, new demographic growth records were recorded. At the beginning of the 19th century, the number of 1 billion people was exceeded for the first time in history.

Subsequently growth accelerated and the number of 2 billion people was already surpassed around By , another billion had been added, in 40 instead of years time. And it continued to go even faster: 4 billion by , 5 billion by , 6 billion by and 7 billion in Fig. This will certainly not stop at the current 7 billion. According to the most recent projections by the United Nations, the number of 8 billion will probably be exceeded by , and around there will be more than 9 billion people 1.

The further one looks into the future, the more uncertain these figures become, and with demography on a world scale one must always take into account a margin of error of a couple of tens of millions. But according to all plausible scenarios, the number of 9 billion will be exceeded by Demographic growth was and is not equally distributed around the globe. The population explosion first occurred on a small scale and with a relatively moderate intensity in Europe and America, more or less between and From on, a much more substantial and intensive population explosion started to take place in Asia, Latin America and Africa Fig.

Of those people, more than 1. In the future, the proportion of Asia will come down and that of Africa will increase. According to UN projections, Africa will continue to grow at a spectacular rate up to 2. What these figures mainly come down to in practice is that the population size in especially the poor countries is increasing at an unprecedented rate.

At the moment, more than 5. Within this group of developing countries, the group of least developed countries, the poorest countries so to speak, is growing strongly: from million now, up to an expected 1. It is expected that this proportion will continue to grow to two thirds around In Belgium, population density is people per square km and in the Netherlands people per square km; in Rwanda this number is , in the Palestinian regions and in Bangladesh an astonishing Although the world population will continue to grow in absolute figures for some time — a following paragraph will explain why — the growth rate in percentages in all large world regions is decreasing.

In the richer countries, the yearly growth rate has already declined to below 0. A further decline to less than 0. For these countries, a considerable decrease is expected, but the projected growth rate would not fall below 1. The cause of, first, the acceleration and, then, the deceleration in population growth is the modern demographic transition: an increasingly growing group of countries has experienced a transition from relatively high to low birth and death rates, or is still in the process of experiencing this.

It is this transition that is causing the modern population explosion. Figure 3 is a schematic and strongly simplified representation of the modern demographic transition. In Europe, the modern demographic transition started to take place in the middle of the 18th century. Until then, years of extremely high death rates were quite frequent. Extremely high crisis mortality could be the consequence of epidemic diseases or failed harvests and famine, or a combination of both.

As a consequence of better hygiene and a better transportation infrastructure for one, the canals and roads constructed by Austria in the 18th century , amongst other reasons, crisis mortality became less and less frequent. Later on in the 19th century, child survival began to improve. Vaccination against smallpox for example led to an eradication of the disease, with the last European smallpox pandemic dating from This way, not only the years of crisis mortality became less frequent, but also the average death rate decreased, from an average 30 deaths per inhabitants in the beginning of the 19th century to around 15 deaths per citizens by the beginning of the 20th century.

In the meantime, the birth rate however stayed at its previous, high level of births per inhabitants. It was only near the end of the nineteenth century a bit earlier in some countries, later in others that married couples in large numbers started to reduce their number of children. By the middle of the 20th century, the middle class ideal of a two children household had gained enormous popularity and influence.

The reaction by the Church, for example in the encyclical Humanae Vitae , came much too late to bring this evolution to a halt. As a consequence of widespread family planning — made even easier in the sixties by modern hormonal contraceptives — the birth rate started declining as well and the population tended back towards zero growth. Nowadays the end of this transition process has been more than achieved in all European countries, because the fertility has been below replacement level for several decades the replacement level is the fertility level that would in the long term lead to a birth rate identical to the death rate, if there would be no migration 2.

That the population explosion in the developing countries since the second half of the 20th century was so much more intense and massive, is a consequence of the fact that in those countries, the process of demographic transition occurred to a much more extreme extent and on a much larger scale.

On the one hand, mortality decreased faster than in Europe. After all, in Europe the decline in mortality was the result of a gradual understanding of the importance of hygiene and afterwards the development of new medical insights. These insights of course already existed at the start of the demographic transitions in Asian, Latin American and African regions, whereby the life expectancy in these regions could grow faster.

On the other hand, the total fertility — the average number of children per woman — at the start of the transition was a lot higher in many poor regions than it initially was in Europe. For South Korea, Brasil and the Congo, for example, the total fertility rate shortly after the Second World War at the start of their demographic transition is estimated to be 6 children per woman. In Belgium this number was close to 4.

In some developing regions, the fertility and birth rate decreased moderately to very fast, but in other regions this decline took off at an exceptionally sluggish pace — this will be further explained later on. As a consequence of these combinations of factors, in most of these countries the population explosion was much larger than it had been in most European countries. Nonetheless, the process of demographic transition has reached its second phase in almost all countries in the world, namely the phase of declining fertility and birth rates.

In a lot of Asian and Latin American countries, the entire transition has taken place and the fertility level is around or below the replacement level. South Korea for example is currently at 1. Crucial to the future evolution of the population is the further evolution of the birth rate.

Scenarios for the future evolution of the size and age of the population differ according to the hypotheses concerning the further evolution of the birth rate. The evolution of the birth rate is in turn dependent on two things: the further evolution of the total fertility rate the average number of children per woman in the first place and population momentum in the second. The latter is a concept I will later on discuss in more detail. The role of the population momentum is usually overlooked in the popular debates, but is of utmost importance in understanding the further evolution of the world population.

Population momentum is the reason why we are as good as certain that the world population will continue to grow for a while. The other factor, the evolution of the fertility rate, is much more uncertain but of critical importance in the long term. The rate at which the further growth of the world population can be slowed down is primarily dependent on the extent to which the fertility rates will continue to decline.

I will further elaborate on this notion in the next paragraph. After that, I will clarify the notion of population momentum. A further decline remains uncertain there. Figure 4 shows the evolution per world region between and , plus the projected evolution until The numbers before illustrate three things. First of all, on all continents there is a decline going on.

Secondly, this decline is not equal everywhere. And thirdly: the differences between the continents remain large in some cases. Asia and Latin America have seen a similar decline in fertility: from 5. Their fertility level has been below replacement levels for years. Africa has indeed seen a global decrease of fertility, but the average number of children is still at an alarmingly high level: the fertility merely decreased from 6.

These continental averages hide a huge underlying diversity in fertility paths. Figure 5 attempts to illustrate this for a number of countries. Firstly let us consider two African countries: the Congo and Niger. For the next decades a decline to 4 children per woman is expected. But that is not at all certain: it is dependent on circumstances that will be further explained in a moment. The demographic transition is after all not a law of nature but the result of human actions and human institutions.

Around , Pakistan and Iran had more or less the same fertility level as Niger, but both countries have seen a considerable decline in the meantime. In Pakistan the level decreased slowly to the current level of 3 children per woman. In Iran the fertility decreased more abruptly, faster and deeper to below the replacement level — Iran today has one of the lowest fertility levels in the world, and a further decline is expected.

The decrease started earlier than in Iran but happened more gradually. Today both countries have the same total fertility, below the replacement level. Which factors cause the average number of children to go down? The literature concerning explanations for the decrease in fertility is vast and complex, but two factors emerge as crucial in this process: education and child survival.

Considering child survival first: countries combining intensive birth control with very high child mortality are simply non-existent. The statistical association between the level of child mortality and fertility is very tight and strong: in countries with high child mortality, fertility is high, and vice versa. This statistical correlation is very strong because the causal relation goes in both directions; with quick succession of children and therefore a lot of children to take care for, the chances of survival for the infants are lower than in those families with only a limited number of children to take care of — this is a fortiori the case where infrastructure for health care is lacking.

A high fertility level thus contributes to a high child mortality. And in the other direction: where survival chances of children improve, the fertility will go down because even those households with a lower number of children have increasing confidence in having descendants in the long term. It is crucial to understand that the decline in child mortality in the demographic transition always precedes the decline in fertility.

Better health care is therefore essential, and a lack of good health care is one of the reasons for a persistently high fertility in a country like Niger. Education is another factor that can cause a decline in fertility. This is probably the most important factor, not just because education is an important humanitarian goal in itself apart from the demographic effects , but also because with education one can kill two birds with one stone: education causes more birth control but also better child survival recently clearly demonstrated by Smith-Greenaway , which in its turn will lead to better birth control.

The statistical correlation between level of education and level of fertility is therefore very strong. Firstly, education enhances the motivation for birth control: if parents invest in the education of their children, they will have fewer children, as has been demonstrated. Secondly, education promotes a more forward-looking lifestyle: it will lead people to think on a somewhat longer term, to think about tomorrow, next week and next month, instead of living for the day.

This attitude is necessary for effective birth control. The influence of education on birth control has been demonstrated in a vast number of studies James et al. It starts with primary education, but an even larger effect can be attained by investment in secondary education Cohen, Women who did finish primary school have on average 6.

The fertility of Niger would be a lot lower if more women could benefit from education. The tragedy of that country is that too many people fall in the category of those without a degree of primary school, with all its demographic consequences.

One achieves with education therefore a plural beneficial demographic effect on top of the important objective of human emancipation in itself. It is one thing to get people motivated to practice birth control but obtaining actual effective contraception is quite another matter. Information concerning the efficient use of contraceptives and increasing the accessibility and affordability of contraceptives can therefore play an important role. Investments in services to help with family planning are absolutely necessary and could already have great results in this group of women.

There is often a problem of lack of motivation for birth control on the one hand, as a result of high child mortality and low schooling rates, and a lack of power in women who may be motivated to limit fertility but are confronted with male resistance on the other Blanc, ; Do and Kurimoto, Empowerment of women is therefore essential, and education can play an important role in that process as well. Even if all the people would suddenly practice birth control much more than is currently considered possible, the world population would still continue to grow for a while.

This is the consequence of population momentum, a notion that refers to the phenomenon of demographic inertia, comparable to the phenomenon of momentum and inertia in the field of physics. Demographic growth is like a moving train: even when you turn off the engine, the movement will continue for a little while. The power and direction of population momentum is dependent on the age structure of the population.

Compare the population pyramids of Egypt and Germany Fig. The one for Egypt has a pyramidal shape indeed, but the one for Germany looks more like an onion. As a consequence of high birth rates in the previous decades, the largest groups of Egyptians are to be found below the age of forty; the younger, the more voluminous the generation. Even if the current and future generations of Egyptians would limit their fertility strongly as is indeed the case , the birth rate in Egypt would still continue to rise for quite some time, just because year after year more and more potential mothers and fathers reach the fertile ages.

Egypt therefore clearly has a growth momentum. Germany on the other hand has a negative or shrinking momentum: even if the younger generations of Germans would have a larger num ber of children than the generation of their own parents, the birth rate in Germany would still continue to decrease because fewer and fewer potential mothers and fathers reach the fertile ages.

The concerns about the consequences of population explosion started in the sixties. In the world population debate, the general concerns involve mainly three interconnected consequences of the population explosion: 1 the growing poverty in the world and famine; 2 the exhaustion and pollution of natural resources essential to human survival; and 3 the migration pressure from the poor South to the rich North Van Bavel, The Malthusian line of thought continues to leave an important mark on the debate regarding the association between population growth and poverty: Malthus saw an excessive population growth as an important cause of poverty and famine.

Rightfully this Malthusian vision has been criticized a lot. One must after all take the reverse causal relation into account as well: poverty and the related social circumstances like a lack of education and good health care for children contribute to high population growth as well.

The jagged interval in the early death rate and the recent birth rate is intended to indicate that all the rates are subject to substantial annual variation. The birth rate in was about 35 per 1, population and the average number of children ever born to women reaching age 45 was about five. The death rate in averaged 25 to 30 per 1, population although, as indicated, it was subject to variation because of episodic plagues, epidemics, and crop failures.

The average expectation of life at birth was 35 years or less. The current birth rate in western European countries is 14 to 20 per 1, population with an average of two to three children born to a woman by the end of childbearing. The death rate is 7 to 11 per 1, population per year, and the expectation of life at birth is about 70 years. The death rate declined, starting in the late 18th or early 19th century, partly because of better transport and communication, wider markets, and greater productivity, but more directly because of the development of sanitation and, later, modern medicine.

These developments, part of the changes in the whole complex of modern civilization, involved scientific and technological advances in many areas, specifically in public health, medicine, agriculture, and industry. The immediate cause of the decline in the birth rate was the increased deliberate control of fertility within marriage.

The only important exception to this statement relates to Ireland, where the decline in the birth rate was brought about by an increase of several years in the age at marriage combined with an increase of 10 to 15 per cent in the proportion of people remaining single. The average age at marriage rose to 28 and more than a fourth of Irish women remained unmarried at age In other countries, however, such social changes have had either insignificant or favorable effects on the birth rate.

In these countries—England, Wales, Scotland, Scandinavia, the Low Countries, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and France—the birth rate went down because of the practice of contraception among married couples. It is certain that there was no decline in the reproductive capacity; in fact, with improved health, the contrary is likely. Only a minor fraction of the decline in western European fertility can be ascribed to the invention of modern techniques of contraception.

In the first place, very substantial declines in some European countries antedated the invention and mass manufacture of contraceptive devices. Second, we know from surveys that as recently as just. There is similar direct evidence for other European countries. In this instance, the decline in fertility was not the result of technical innovations in contraception, but of the decision of married couples to resort to folk methods known for centuries.

Thus we must explain the decline in the western European birth rates in terms of why people were willing to modify their sexual behavior in order to have fewer children. Such changes in attitude were doubtless a part of a whole set of profound social and economic changes that accompanied the industrialization and modernization of western Europe.

Among the factors underlying this particular change in attitude was a change in the economic consequences of childbearing. In a pre-industrial, agrarian society children start helping with chores at an early age; they do not remain in a dependent status during a long period of education.

They provide the principal form of support for the parents in their old age, and, with high mortality, many children must be born to ensure that some will survive to take care of their parents. On the other hand, in an urban, industrialized society, children are less of an economic asset and more of an economic burden. Among the social factors that might account for the change in attitude is the decline in the importance of the family as an economic unit that has accompanied the industrialization and modernization of Europe.

In an industrialized economy, the family is no longer the unit of production and individuals come to be judged by what they do rather than who they are. Children leave home to seek jobs and parents no longer count on support by their children in their old age. As this kind of modernization continues, public education, which is essential to the production of a literate labor force, is extended to women, and thus the traditional subordinate role of women is modified. Since the burden of child care falls primarily on women, their rise in status is probably an important element in the development of an attitude favoring the deliberate limitation of family size.

Finally, the social and economic changes characteristic of industrialization and modernization of a country are accompanied by and reinforce a rise of secularism, pragmatism, and rationalism in place of custom and tradition. Since modernization of a nation involves extension of deliberate human control over an increasing range of the environment,. As the simplified representation in Figure 1 indicates, the birth rate in western Europe usually began its descent after the death rate had already fallen substantially.

France is a partial exception. The decline in French births began late in the 18th century and the downward courses of the birth and death rates during the 19th century were more or less parallel. In general, the death rate appears to be affected more immediately and automatically by industrialization. One may surmise that the birth rate responds more slowly because its reduction requires changes in more deeply seated customs.

There is in most societies a consensus in favor of improving health and reducing the incidence of premature death. There is no such consensus for changes in attitudes and behavior needed to reduce the birth rate. The pattern of declining mortality and fertility that we have described for western Europe fits not only the western European countries upon which it is based but also, with suitable adjustment in the initial birth and death rates and in the time scale, eastern and southern Europe with the exception of Albania , the Soviet Union, Japan, the United States, Australia, Canada, Argentina, and New Zealand.

In short, every country that has changed from a predominantly rural agrarian society to a predominantly industrial urban society and has extended public education to near-universality, at least at the primary school level, has had a major reduction in birth and death rates of the sort depicted in Figure 1. The jagged line describing the variable current birth rate represents in some instances—notably the United States—a major recovery in the birth rate from its low point.

It must be remembered, however, that this recovery has not been caused by a reversion to uncontrolled family size. In the United States, for example, one can scarcely imagine that married couples have forgotten how to employ the contraceptive. We know, in fact, that more couples are skilled in the use of contraception today than ever before. Nevertheless, effective methods of controlling family size are still unknown and unused by many couples even in the United States.

The recent increase in the birth rate has been the result largely of earlier and more nearly universal marriage, the virtual disappearance of childless and one-child families, and a voluntary choice of two, three, or four children by a vast majority of American couples.

There has been no general return to the very large family of pre-industrial times, although some segments of our society still produce many unwanted children. We turn now to a comparison of the present situation in the less-developed areas with the demographic circumstances in western Europe prior to the industrial revolution. Figure 2 presents the trends of birth and death rates in the less-developed areas in a rough schematic way similar to that employed in Figure 1.

Note first that the birth rate in the less-developed areas is higher than it was in pre-industrial western Europe. This difference results from the fact that in many less-developed countries almost all women at age 35 have married, and at an average age substantially less than in 18th-century Europe.

Second, many of the less-developed areas of the world today are much more densely populated than was western Europe at the beginning of the industrial revolution. Moreover, there are few remaining areas comparable to North and South America into which a growing population could move and which could provide rapidly expanding markets. Finally, and most significantly, the death rate in the less-developed areas is dropping very rapidly—a decline that looks almost vertical compared to the gradual decline in western Europe—and without regard to economic change.

The precipitous decline in the death rate that is occurring in the low-income countries of the world is a consequence of the development and application of low-cost public health techniques. Figure 2. Schematic presentation of birth and death rates in less-developed countries, midth century.

The steep drop in the death rate from approximately 35 per thousand began at times varying roughly between and from country to country. Instead, the less-developed areas have been able to import low-cost measures of controlling disease, measures developed for the most part in the highly industrialized countries.

The use of residual insecticides to provide effective protection against malaria at a cost of no more than 25 cents per capita per annum is an outstanding example. Other innovations include antibiotics and chemotherapy, and low-cost ways of providing safe water supplies and adequate environmental sanitation in villages that in most other ways remain relatively untouched by modernization.

The death rate in Ceylon was cut in half in less than a decade, and declines approaching this in rapidity are almost commonplace. The result of a precipitous decline in mortality while the birth rate remains essentially unchanged is, of course, a very rapid acceleration in population growth, reaching rates of three to three and one-half per cent.

This extreme rate is undoubtedly due to temporary factors and would stabilize at not more than three per cent. But even at three per cent per year, two centuries would see the population of Mexico grow to about Two centuries is a long time, however. Might we not expect that long before years had passed the population of Mexico would have responded to modernization, as did the populations of western Europe, by reducing the birth rate? A positive answer might suggest that organized educational efforts to reduce the birth rate are not necessary.

But there is a more immediate problem demanding solution in much less than two centuries: Is the current demographic situation in the less-developed countries impeding the process of modernization itself? The combination of high birth rates and low or rapidly declining death rates now found in the less-developed countries implies two different characteristics of the population that have important impli-. One important characteristic is rapid growth, which is the immediate consequence of the large and often growing difference between birth and death rates; the other is the heavy burden of child dependency which results from a high birth rate whether death rates are high or low.

A reduced death rate has only a slight effect on the proportion of children in the population, and this effect is in a rather surprising direction. The kinds of mortality reduction that have actually occurred in the world have the effect, if fertility remains unchanged, of reducing rather than increasing the average age of the population.

Mortality reduction produces this effect because the largest increases occur in the survival of infants, and, although the reduction in mortality increases the number of old persons, it increases the number of children even more. The result is that the high fertility found in low-income countries produces a proportion of children under fifteen of 40 to 45 per cent of the total population, compared to 25 per cent or less in most of the industrialized countries.

What do these characteristics of rapid growth and very large proportions of children imply about the capacity to achieve rapid industrialization? It must be noted that it is probably technically possible in every less-developed area to increase national output at rates even more rapid than the very rapid rates of population increase we have discussed, at least for a few years.

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The demographic growth rates are indeed on the decline worldwide and this paper will attempt to explain some of the mechanisms behind that process. This is especially the case in Sub Saharan Africa. In absolute numbers, the world population will continue to grow anyway for quite some time as a result of demographic inertia. This too will be further clarified in this paper.

In simple terms: if a combination of birth and growth figures only appears to cause a modest population growth initially, then this seems to imply an explosive growth in the longer term. Thomas R. Malthus already acquired this point of view by the end of the 18th century.

On a local scale, migration also plays an important role. After all, the population there had started to grow at a historically unseen rate. More specifically the proletariat had grown immensely and that worried the intellectuals and the elite. Year after year, new demographic growth records were recorded. At the beginning of the 19th century, the number of 1 billion people was exceeded for the first time in history.

Subsequently growth accelerated and the number of 2 billion people was already surpassed around By , another billion had been added, in 40 instead of years time. And it continued to go even faster: 4 billion by , 5 billion by , 6 billion by and 7 billion in Fig.

This will certainly not stop at the current 7 billion. According to the most recent projections by the United Nations, the number of 8 billion will probably be exceeded by , and around there will be more than 9 billion people 1. The further one looks into the future, the more uncertain these figures become, and with demography on a world scale one must always take into account a margin of error of a couple of tens of millions. But according to all plausible scenarios, the number of 9 billion will be exceeded by Demographic growth was and is not equally distributed around the globe.

The population explosion first occurred on a small scale and with a relatively moderate intensity in Europe and America, more or less between and From on, a much more substantial and intensive population explosion started to take place in Asia, Latin America and Africa Fig. Of those people, more than 1. In the future, the proportion of Asia will come down and that of Africa will increase. According to UN projections, Africa will continue to grow at a spectacular rate up to 2.

What these figures mainly come down to in practice is that the population size in especially the poor countries is increasing at an unprecedented rate. At the moment, more than 5. Within this group of developing countries, the group of least developed countries, the poorest countries so to speak, is growing strongly: from million now, up to an expected 1. It is expected that this proportion will continue to grow to two thirds around In Belgium, population density is people per square km and in the Netherlands people per square km; in Rwanda this number is , in the Palestinian regions and in Bangladesh an astonishing Although the world population will continue to grow in absolute figures for some time — a following paragraph will explain why — the growth rate in percentages in all large world regions is decreasing.

In the richer countries, the yearly growth rate has already declined to below 0. A further decline to less than 0. For these countries, a considerable decrease is expected, but the projected growth rate would not fall below 1.

The cause of, first, the acceleration and, then, the deceleration in population growth is the modern demographic transition: an increasingly growing group of countries has experienced a transition from relatively high to low birth and death rates, or is still in the process of experiencing this.

It is this transition that is causing the modern population explosion. Figure 3 is a schematic and strongly simplified representation of the modern demographic transition. In Europe, the modern demographic transition started to take place in the middle of the 18th century. Until then, years of extremely high death rates were quite frequent. Extremely high crisis mortality could be the consequence of epidemic diseases or failed harvests and famine, or a combination of both. As a consequence of better hygiene and a better transportation infrastructure for one, the canals and roads constructed by Austria in the 18th century , amongst other reasons, crisis mortality became less and less frequent.

Later on in the 19th century, child survival began to improve. Vaccination against smallpox for example led to an eradication of the disease, with the last European smallpox pandemic dating from This way, not only the years of crisis mortality became less frequent, but also the average death rate decreased, from an average 30 deaths per inhabitants in the beginning of the 19th century to around 15 deaths per citizens by the beginning of the 20th century.

In the meantime, the birth rate however stayed at its previous, high level of births per inhabitants. It was only near the end of the nineteenth century a bit earlier in some countries, later in others that married couples in large numbers started to reduce their number of children. By the middle of the 20th century, the middle class ideal of a two children household had gained enormous popularity and influence. The reaction by the Church, for example in the encyclical Humanae Vitae , came much too late to bring this evolution to a halt.

As a consequence of widespread family planning — made even easier in the sixties by modern hormonal contraceptives — the birth rate started declining as well and the population tended back towards zero growth. Nowadays the end of this transition process has been more than achieved in all European countries, because the fertility has been below replacement level for several decades the replacement level is the fertility level that would in the long term lead to a birth rate identical to the death rate, if there would be no migration 2.

That the population explosion in the developing countries since the second half of the 20th century was so much more intense and massive, is a consequence of the fact that in those countries, the process of demographic transition occurred to a much more extreme extent and on a much larger scale.

On the one hand, mortality decreased faster than in Europe. After all, in Europe the decline in mortality was the result of a gradual understanding of the importance of hygiene and afterwards the development of new medical insights. These insights of course already existed at the start of the demographic transitions in Asian, Latin American and African regions, whereby the life expectancy in these regions could grow faster.

On the other hand, the total fertility — the average number of children per woman — at the start of the transition was a lot higher in many poor regions than it initially was in Europe. For South Korea, Brasil and the Congo, for example, the total fertility rate shortly after the Second World War at the start of their demographic transition is estimated to be 6 children per woman.

In Belgium this number was close to 4. In some developing regions, the fertility and birth rate decreased moderately to very fast, but in other regions this decline took off at an exceptionally sluggish pace — this will be further explained later on. As a consequence of these combinations of factors, in most of these countries the population explosion was much larger than it had been in most European countries.

Nonetheless, the process of demographic transition has reached its second phase in almost all countries in the world, namely the phase of declining fertility and birth rates. In a lot of Asian and Latin American countries, the entire transition has taken place and the fertility level is around or below the replacement level. South Korea for example is currently at 1. Crucial to the future evolution of the population is the further evolution of the birth rate.

Scenarios for the future evolution of the size and age of the population differ according to the hypotheses concerning the further evolution of the birth rate. The evolution of the birth rate is in turn dependent on two things: the further evolution of the total fertility rate the average number of children per woman in the first place and population momentum in the second.

The latter is a concept I will later on discuss in more detail. The role of the population momentum is usually overlooked in the popular debates, but is of utmost importance in understanding the further evolution of the world population. Population momentum is the reason why we are as good as certain that the world population will continue to grow for a while. The other factor, the evolution of the fertility rate, is much more uncertain but of critical importance in the long term.

The rate at which the further growth of the world population can be slowed down is primarily dependent on the extent to which the fertility rates will continue to decline. I will further elaborate on this notion in the next paragraph.

After that, I will clarify the notion of population momentum. A further decline remains uncertain there. Figure 4 shows the evolution per world region between and , plus the projected evolution until The numbers before illustrate three things. First of all, on all continents there is a decline going on. Secondly, this decline is not equal everywhere. And thirdly: the differences between the continents remain large in some cases. Asia and Latin America have seen a similar decline in fertility: from 5.

Their fertility level has been below replacement levels for years. Africa has indeed seen a global decrease of fertility, but the average number of children is still at an alarmingly high level: the fertility merely decreased from 6. These continental averages hide a huge underlying diversity in fertility paths. Figure 5 attempts to illustrate this for a number of countries. Firstly let us consider two African countries: the Congo and Niger. For the next decades a decline to 4 children per woman is expected.

But that is not at all certain: it is dependent on circumstances that will be further explained in a moment. The demographic transition is after all not a law of nature but the result of human actions and human institutions. Around , Pakistan and Iran had more or less the same fertility level as Niger, but both countries have seen a considerable decline in the meantime. In Pakistan the level decreased slowly to the current level of 3 children per woman.

In Iran the fertility decreased more abruptly, faster and deeper to below the replacement level — Iran today has one of the lowest fertility levels in the world, and a further decline is expected. The decrease started earlier than in Iran but happened more gradually. Today both countries have the same total fertility, below the replacement level. Which factors cause the average number of children to go down? The literature concerning explanations for the decrease in fertility is vast and complex, but two factors emerge as crucial in this process: education and child survival.

Considering child survival first: countries combining intensive birth control with very high child mortality are simply non-existent. The statistical association between the level of child mortality and fertility is very tight and strong: in countries with high child mortality, fertility is high, and vice versa. This statistical correlation is very strong because the causal relation goes in both directions; with quick succession of children and therefore a lot of children to take care for, the chances of survival for the infants are lower than in those families with only a limited number of children to take care of — this is a fortiori the case where infrastructure for health care is lacking.

A high fertility level thus contributes to a high child mortality. And in the other direction: where survival chances of children improve, the fertility will go down because even those households with a lower number of children have increasing confidence in having descendants in the long term. It is crucial to understand that the decline in child mortality in the demographic transition always precedes the decline in fertility.

Better health care is therefore essential, and a lack of good health care is one of the reasons for a persistently high fertility in a country like Niger. Education is another factor that can cause a decline in fertility.

This is probably the most important factor, not just because education is an important humanitarian goal in itself apart from the demographic effects , but also because with education one can kill two birds with one stone: education causes more birth control but also better child survival recently clearly demonstrated by Smith-Greenaway , which in its turn will lead to better birth control. The statistical correlation between level of education and level of fertility is therefore very strong.

Firstly, education enhances the motivation for birth control: if parents invest in the education of their children, they will have fewer children, as has been demonstrated. Secondly, education promotes a more forward-looking lifestyle: it will lead people to think on a somewhat longer term, to think about tomorrow, next week and next month, instead of living for the day.

This attitude is necessary for effective birth control. The influence of education on birth control has been demonstrated in a vast number of studies James et al. It starts with primary education, but an even larger effect can be attained by investment in secondary education Cohen, Women who did finish primary school have on average 6. The fertility of Niger would be a lot lower if more women could benefit from education.

The tragedy of that country is that too many people fall in the category of those without a degree of primary school, with all its demographic consequences. One achieves with education therefore a plural beneficial demographic effect on top of the important objective of human emancipation in itself.

It is one thing to get people motivated to practice birth control but obtaining actual effective contraception is quite another matter. Information concerning the efficient use of contraceptives and increasing the accessibility and affordability of contraceptives can therefore play an important role. Investments in services to help with family planning are absolutely necessary and could already have great results in this group of women.

There is often a problem of lack of motivation for birth control on the one hand, as a result of high child mortality and low schooling rates, and a lack of power in women who may be motivated to limit fertility but are confronted with male resistance on the other Blanc, ; Do and Kurimoto, Empowerment of women is therefore essential, and education can play an important role in that process as well. Even if all the people would suddenly practice birth control much more than is currently considered possible, the world population would still continue to grow for a while.

This is the consequence of population momentum, a notion that refers to the phenomenon of demographic inertia, comparable to the phenomenon of momentum and inertia in the field of physics. Demographic growth is like a moving train: even when you turn off the engine, the movement will continue for a little while. The power and direction of population momentum is dependent on the age structure of the population.

Compare the population pyramids of Egypt and Germany Fig. The one for Egypt has a pyramidal shape indeed, but the one for Germany looks more like an onion. As a consequence of high birth rates in the previous decades, the largest groups of Egyptians are to be found below the age of forty; the younger, the more voluminous the generation.

Even if the current and future generations of Egyptians would limit their fertility strongly as is indeed the case , the birth rate in Egypt would still continue to rise for quite some time, just because year after year more and more potential mothers and fathers reach the fertile ages. Egypt therefore clearly has a growth momentum.

For example, Kerala has a very high literacy rate and it constitutes only 2. Educated people are well aware of birth control methods. Family planning, welfare programs, and policies have not fetched the desired result. The superstitious people mainly from rural places think that having a male child would give them prosperity and so there is a considerable pressure on the parents to produce children till a male child is born. This leads to a population explosion.

Poverty is another main reason for this. Poor people believe that the more the number of people in the family, the more will be the number of persons to earn bread. Hence it contributes to the increase in population. Continuous illegal migration of people from neighbouring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh is leading to a rise in the population density in India. Religion sentiment is another cause of the population explosion.

Some orthodox communities believe that any mandate or statutory method of prohibition is sacrilegious. It is difficult for India to exercise a check on the religious grounds for its secularism. The growth of the population has a major impact on the living standards of people. That is why, despite our incredible progress in the agricultural and industrial spheres, our capita income has not risen appreciably. The rapidly growing population in India has led to the problem of food scarcity and heavy pressure on land.

Generating employment opportunities for such a huge population in India is very difficult. Therefore, illiteracy is growing rapidly every year. Development of infrastructural facilities is not able to cope up with the pace of growing population. So facilities like transportation, communication, housing, education, and healthcare are becoming inadequate to provide provision to the people.

The increasing population leads to unequal distribution of income and inequalities among the people widened. Unmanageable population size may lead to the failure of the government to provide the basic facilities to the people. Economic development is slow in a country where population is growing at a very fast rate. This also leads to low capital formation. Ignorance, illiteracy, unhygienic living conditions, and lack of recreation have always been the cause of population problems in India.

Rapid growth in population is also an indication of the wastage of natural resources.