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Geofile Stage 5

Geofile Stage 5

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Published by: reservoirgeogs on Mar 27, 2009
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The demographic transitionmodel
Demography is the study of population change. The theory odemographic transition, outlinedoriginally in 1929 by WarrenThompson and later elaborated byother demographers, sought to explainthe phenomenon by which allindustrialised countries appeared topass through a similar pattern of population growth. Thompson’s maininterest, even at that time, concernedpotential imbalances betweenpopulation and resources.In pre-industrial societies thecircumstances prevailing broughtabout high birth and death rates,which effectively cancelled each otherout, hence the relative stability inpopulation numbers characteristic of Stage 1 of the demographic transitionmodel (Figure 1). The onset of industrialisation brought about a newrelationship between fertility andmortality, and hence immensechanges in society, through thereduction of the death rate.
Industrialisation broughtimprovements to people’s lives, interms of sanitation, public health, andquality of diet – very basicimprovements at first, but sufficient tobring about significant change instandards of health and hygiene, andultimately in life expectancy and ratesof mortality. However, fertility did notimmediately mirror the downwardtrend of mortality. This divergencebetween the two rates resulted in anunprecedented growth in population –Stage 2 of the demographic transitionmodel. Stage 2 only came to an endwhen other facets of modernisationbegan to influence people’s attitudestowards fertility.By the end of the 19th century, areduction in birth rates, andconsequent slowing in the rate of population growth, was evident rightacross Europe. The convergence of fertility and mortality levels (Stage 4)took place at different times across thecontinent. For those countries whichwere slower to modernise, such asSpain, this demographic changeoccurred later – as recently as the 1970sor even 1980s. This is ironic, sinceSpain has been one of the first countriesto move into a possible ‘Stage 5’ of themodel – one in which birth rates dipcontinuously below death rates, andnatural decrease becomes the norm.Despite the demographic transitionmodel’s explanation of Europeangrowth patterns, it has been appliedsomewhat indiscriminately elsewherein the world, and some demographerssee this as inappropriate. The modelworks well for other industrialisedwestern societies, such as in NorthAmerica, but the wisdom of itsapplication to less economicallydeveloped regions, with cultural andeconomic circumstances that areimmensely different from those of MEDCs, is questionable. Rates of change, timescale, and reasons forchange are so diverse that two versionsof the model would seem appropriate.Not all demographers are in agreementthat Europe is entering a fifth stage of the model. Thompson and his co-workers never envisaged such a stage,but there is a growing acceptance that itis upon us, and its dynamics requirecareful study.
387Alison Rae
Geofile Online © Stanley Thornes (Publishers) Ltd 2000
Population Trends – Stage 5 of theDemographic Transition Model
Figure 1: The demographic transition in the UK, 1700–2000
   R  a   t  e  p  e  r   1 ,   0   0   0  p  e  o  p   l  e
1700Time17401780182018601900194019802000Stage 1highfluctuatingStage 2earlyexpandingStage 3lateexpandingStage 4lowfluctuatingStage 5naturaldecrease?KeyBirth rateDeath rateNatural increaseNatural decrease
World population growth
The current patterns of growth are amixture of opposites. On one handthere is emphasis on rapid growthand the problems, or perhapschallenges, that it brings. Somecountries – Kenya, for instance –retain growth rates in excess of 3%per annum, i.e. a doubling period of around 20 years. So provision of allresources must be doubled in thesame time period, just to maintaincurrent living standards, let alone toimprove. It is therefore notsurprising that the gap between theworld’s ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ is notnarrowing, as we might wish, buthas doubled since 1960 (UN HumanDevelopment Report, 1992). Totalhuman population is rising by 90million per year. By 2025 there willbe another 123 million in NorthAfrica and a further 169 million inWest Asia (primarily the Indiansubcontinent). Some 95% or more of world population increase will takeplace in the LEDCs, only 5% at themost in the MEDCs. Europe’spopulation is expected, at most, toincrease by only 4 million over thesame time period, but in fact is morelikely to decline. Predictions, theproduct of an inexact science, can bequite contradictory. Figure 2 showsthat, since 1950, Europe’spopulation has been growing, but ata slower rate than elsewhere.Immigration has played a crucialpart in this growth. As a percentageof world total population, Europe’sshare has been steadily decreasing.The latest data suggest that thissituation is likely to be exacerbated.A situation of zero growth wasreached in 1999, and a period of natural decrease now seemsinevitable, at a rate of at least 0.1%per annum.
The following statistics, eachrepresentative of their continent,further illustrate the situation:
Economic and socialconsequences of populationdecline in Europe today
In some respects, population declineused to be thought of in parts of Europe as economically desirable.The expectation was thatemployment opportunities wouldincrease, based on the assumptionthat fewer people would becompeting for a fixed number of jobs,and there would be a greater supplyof resources to go around.Population decline can have severalimpacts, not just economic ones:social, cultural and politicalconsequences also ensue, and theseare all interlinked. The 20% of usinhabiting the developed world enjoy80% of all the world’s resources.Assuming Europe moves firmly intoStage 5 of the demographic transitionmodel, i.e. that the current situationis not a temporary fertility fluctuationwithin Stage 4, the pressure forimmigration into Europe will behuge. In Europe there is increasingconcern over a potential shortage of workers, particularly in some sectorsof the economy, mainly services. Itcan even be argued that this wholesituation is creating the potential forsocial unrest on a grand scale. We canlook to the recent past to see what canbe learned about human reactions todeclining population.
Impacts of recent Europeanimmigration
Historically, both in Europe andbeyond, as nations have become
September 2000 no.387 Population trends Stage 5 of the Demographic Transition Model
Geofile Online © Stanley Thornes (Publishers) Ltd 2000
time todoublepopulation(years)
population (millions)% of world populationmid 1999
Figure 2: Demographic data – Europe compared with the world 
* In September 1999, world population passed the 6 billion mark 
Population Reference Bureau – World Population Data Sheet;
World Bank – Population and Development: Implications for the World Bank 
1980s national fertility averages:highest = Rwanda 8.5 children per womanlowest* = Italy 1.3 children per woman1994 regional fertility averages:highest = sub-Saharan Africa 6.5 childrenper womanlowest = Europe 1.6 children per woman* excluding China, due to its ‘one child’ policy
Furedi (1997)
September 2000 no.387 Population trends Stage 5 of the Demographic Transition Model
Geofile Online © Stanley Thornes (Publishers) Ltd 2000
richer and more urbanised,reproduction has tended to dwindle.Replacement population has then hadto come from beyond such nations’boundaries. Examples of suchimmigrant communities in Europeinclude the large numbers of Turksin Germany, Algerians in France, andCaribbean, Pakistani, Indian andBangladeshi (‘New Commonwealth’)immigrants in the UK. Such groupshave tended to prove ‘culturallyindigestible’. It has been difficult forthem to assimilate because they aredifferent in so many obvious ways racially, in religion, culture, forms of dress and social mores. Indeed, suchimmigrant groups have tended tocling to their identity, which is anunderstandable attitude for aminority group living in an alienculture. The prevailing demographictrend of such minority groups is oneof a higher birth rate than thedominant local group.Experience indicates that thissituation can breed discrimination.The local group would like to limitthe growth of the immigrant one.The degree of difference betweenlocal and immigrant groups is crucialto the level of acceptance. InGermany the Turks – different inrace, culture, language and religion –have not integrated much, despitetheir long stay. Many have been therealmost 30 years, and a wholegeneration of younger adults has beenborn and brought up there, speakingGerman as a joint first language withTurkish, and having been educatedin the German system. Some haveachieved highly, but fewerproportionately than in the nativeGerman population. Even thoseTurks who are born in Germany arenot allowed full citizenship. They do,however, have a right to stay; theirparents, who entered the country as
(guest workers), do not. Itwas originally intended that theywould return home when their work contracts were completed. In Berlin,the Turks tend to inhabit limitedareas of the city, which have becomeethnic ghettos.In some contrast, in the UnitedStates, Mexican, Central Americanand Caribbean immigrants, mostlySpanish-speaking, have beenaccepted in considerable numbersinto American society, where they aregiven more opportunity to play aparallel role in society with the olderresident population. However, theyare not distinguished from theexisting population by afundamentally different religion – asCatholics, they join the dominantChristian group. Spanish is also aEuropean language. These factorsmake assimilation into the hostsociety easier, from both host andimmigrant points of view, than in theGerman/Turkish case above.It is not uncommon to find, in thehost population, a fear thatimmigrant numbers will expand toofast. In Germany the nativepopulation started to decline in 1973.Simultaneously, the immigrantpopulation (32.7% Turkish) wasincreasing, from 2.98 million in 1970to 4.36 million in 1985. German birthrates are far below replacement level;Turkish rates are far above. Such asituation itself militates againstassimilation; it tends to keep the twogroups apart and has maintained theTurks as an underclass, giving themno economic gain from having fewerchildren and hence maintaining theirhigh growth rates.The German situation may change.Other, non-Turkish, immigrants –mainly Yugoslavs, Greeks andItalians – have a low reproductiverate, closer to that of the Germans.With improved economic status, theTurkish population may see it in itsown interests to follow.
Political consequences ofStage 5
Stage 5 of the demographic transitionmodel, assuming one accepts fromthe evidence above that it is already afact in Europe, and likely to becomeincreasingly so, could have quite arange of political consequences. Oneof these is increasing nationalism.One of the ex-USSR states, Estonia, isa case in point.In the latter days of the Soviet Union,available statistics show a rate of growth slightly greater than that inthe United States: 8.8/1,000/annumcompared with 7.0/1,000/annum (
UN  Demographic Yearboo
, 1985).However, a general figure like this forthe whole of the USSR obscured thedifference between the higher fertilityof the USSR’s Asian Muslims and thelower rate of the European Russianpopulation. The demography of thelatter conforms very closely to that of Western Europe, i.e. ethnicallyRussian populations are on the vergeof failing to reproduce themselves orhave, perhaps, already passed thatpoint. The fall in the number of children born to each Russianwoman, from 2.17 in 1989 to 1.4 in1997, has been labelled ademographic crisis. NeighbouringEstonia is already in demographicdecay, and, interestingly, the politicaleffect of this has been to enhanceEstonian national consciousness.There is considerable fear of ethnicdilution.This kind of fear – xenophobia – canbe linked with recent politicalchanges in Austria, where a newcoalition government was formed inFebruary 2000 including JorgHeider’s right-wing Freedom Party,which had fought the election on ananti-immigration platform. The EUhas reacted strongly against thisparty.Throughout Europe, immigrationand the marginalised situation of immigrant communities have tendedfrom time to time to provoke avolatile public response from the hostpopulation, particularly at times of economic uncertainty. Racism is acurrent phenomenon in Europeansocieties, and racist attitudes andresentment can be deep-seated.Across Europe, political parties onthe far right have emerged, seeking tomake capital of popular anti-immigrant sentiments. If numbers of immigrants increase, will suchproblems also proportionallyincrease?Even in the United States, suchfeelings may manifest themselves inthe future, despite the Americantradition of welcoming immigrantsfrom many sources, a characteristic of a ‘frontier’ nation. The labelling of ethnic groups in the American censusmakes it difficult to obtain a truepicture; Hispanics can be categorisedas either Black or White, dependingon their place of origin. But there isno doubt that the portion of USpopulation who are of directEuropean descent is failing toreproduce itself. The acceptance of Hispanic immigrants into thepopulation may be in jeopardy if thisdemographic situation, which couldlead to Hispanics eventuallypredominating, persists. The reactionto such a situation is unknown.The European Union’s position ondemographic matters is interpretedby some as hypocritical, to say theleast. It promotes population control

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