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World Demographic Trends

World Demographic Trends

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Fiche technique réalisée dans le cadre du cours d'Anglais d'Emmanuel Roudaut. IEP de Lille 4ème Année.
To know more about the author : www.melina-frangiadakis.com
Fiche technique réalisée dans le cadre du cours d'Anglais d'Emmanuel Roudaut. IEP de Lille 4ème Année.
To know more about the author : www.melina-frangiadakis.com

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Published by: Melina Frangiadakis Snieg on Sep 07, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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Mélina FRANGIADAKIS English paper4RI1 30/10/071
World Demographic Trends
Demographic variables such as birth and death rates, age structures, global and national trendsin population size, are useful to a wide range of analysts in order to plan the future needs forwater, food and energy. Besides, those studies enable scientists to point out, for instance, theenvironmental, urbanization or welfare-related problems which are indeed closely linked tothose demographic questions.We have been studying for a month the current world demographic trends through threecases : Japan, Russia and China. The three of them could be representative of a so-calleddemographic crisis which affects Europe and Asia but in the meantime, they all have national-specific factors which account for a population crisis and policies to deal with it.What population trends shall we watch ou for in the next years ? What demographicchallenges policymakers are to be facing ?This paper aims at casting a light on some dramatic demographic trends which might not havebeen forecasted, and at evaluating the consequences of those population trends in humanwelfare in the years to come. I will focus on the causes and consequences of global ageing,which is at stake in the three countries I mentioned and generally speaking, in all developednations. Then I will expose other rising demographic issues such as gender inequality, AIDSor international migrations.
1. Let’s look first for the demographic causes of global ageing.
This is the well-known
« demographic transition »
(falling mortality rates followed byfalling birth rates) which is mainly responsible for the ageing of population. If the patterns aresimilar in most countries, one must not neglect the international differences in the speed andthe extent of ageing processes. Today, countries facing a dramatic ageing of population areindustrialized nations, i.e the ones where the demographic transition has come to an end.Russia, Japan and China have in common extraordinarily low birth rates : 12 out of 1000 inChina, 8.1 out of 1000 in Japan, 10.9 out of 1000 in Russia.Obviously the demographic transition is related to another phenomenon which also accountsfor the ageing of population : the
rising life expectancy
thanks to medical progress andhealthier lifestyles. Japan, here, is the best example since the country has the longest lifeexpectancy in the world. If we combine this information to its birth rate, we do understandwhy more than 2 out of 5 people are 65 or over in the rural areas of Japan today.Yet the demographic transition is not the only component of global ageing : some endogenousfactors also account for this phenomenon such as public policies which have been led in somecountries. I am thinking of two kinds of policies-side effects :-
The « women’s condition »
: some countries do not enable women to conciliate work and motherhood. On the one hand it is a question of culture : you must be a motherfirst ; on the other hand, specific infrastructures such as pre-schools are under-developed in many countries. Germany perfectly illustrates those inconveniences.-
China’s one-child policy
: one would have hardly imagined the side-effects of thisbirth policy. As the one-child policy approaches the third generation, one adult childsupports two parents and four grandparents. Due to that policy, China is considered tobe in the most serious stituation today in terms of ageing population.
Mélina FRANGIADAKIS English paper4RI1 30/10/072
2. Economic and social consequences of the ageing population.
Global ageing deeply affects economics and society. The median age of the world populationis expected to rise from 38 years at present in the most developed countries to 46 years in2050. At a microeconomics level, it implies a
change in labour productivity
. At amacroeconomics level, labour will become scarce. Since
the number of working age peopleis bound to fall
, the relative price of labour will change. We can also easily imagine a loss of GDP at a worldwide level.This is not a projection. This change in the structure of work is happening right now in Chinawhich is about to lose its position of « world’s workshop » that the country had won thanks toits numerous and cheap workforce. Some factories already left the East Coast of China (i.e theregion which had boomed the economy of the country) because the workforce became tooexpensive, less competitive.In Japan where one can observe rural exodus, it has become very difficult for elderly farmersto keep on working, since the agriculture is sustained by a collective effort. In a village namedOgama, local people even have decided to make their town disappear from the map ! Othervillages will be administratively reorganized i.e will become part of another city.All this raises obviously the problem of the pensions and of the healthcare systems.
Publicspending is projected to increase
as a direct budgetary consequence of the ageing of population to cover those costs. Recent studies show that there should be 1 dependent personfor 4 working-aged people in 2050, instead of 1 for 10 at present. But in addition to thefinancing of pensions, other areas of public spending depend on the age structure (education,family subsidies…) and will be transformed.There should be 2 billion people aged 60 or over in 2050.
This increasing number of « seniors » among the consummers will for sure affect the consumption markets
in eachcountry. The sector of old people’s home and care will be developed because working-agepeople do not have time any more to look after their parents.
3. Other demographic issues.
We have seen, in the set of articles we studied, that global ageing would probably be the mostpreoccupying concern for industrialized countries in the next future. However, it is not theonly demographic shock we have to face. Indeed, the documents we studied point out at least2 other underestimated issues : AIDS and gender inequality. I will also say a word of international immigration which I think, is worth mentioning too.
Gender inequality
is another consequence of some fertility policies such as China’spreference for sons (118 boys are being born for 100 girls). Besides the problem of abortionsand infanticides it causes, it contributes as the generation is growing up, to a serious genderimbalance. It concretely means that millions of Chinese men will have no chance to getmarried. Same problem in India, where rural families want to get boys only, not to paydowries when their child gets married.
AIDS currently decimates entire countries
. Sub-Saharan Africa is in a dire situationregardind HIV-infection spread. Since we focused on Europe and Asia, we did notexpressively mention it during the class but AIDS in Africa is a real challenge for the

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