Geofile no.

507 Sept 2005 and China

Demographic Change and Population Policy in India

Explain why the UK’s death rate is higher than China’s and India’s. Looking at data in figure 1 it is easy to see that the population in the UK is on average older than that in China. The median age in the UK is 38.7, close to a whole seven years older than that in China. Whereas only 7.5% of people in China are aged 65 and above this proportion in the UK is more than double that at 15.7%. All these statistics support the idea that more people per 1000 of population die in the UK each year. What is cause and what is effect in the relationship between economic development and demographic maturity? As any population increases will bring added pressures on that county’s resources. At its simplest an increased population will require additional food. That food could be grown by the country’s own population or obtained through the trade of other additional resources.In terms of agricultural output the main resource is land. If the area of land cannot be increased that yield from the land can be driven up through technological improvements. In terms of trade any additional increase in the labour supply could ultimately result in more production and greater trade. Economic development may in fact facilitate economic development or indeed it may be a seen as result of it. As a consequence of economic development and associated increases in wealth and medical provision death rates would start to fall. Notestein who devised the DTM in 1945 stated that economic development is the driving force that causes countries to shift through the four stages. Two famous theories touch on the importance of economic development and the changes it drives. Malthus expressed this relationship in a pessimistic way in his “Essay on the principle of Population” in 1798. He stated that because human populations grow geometrically (1, 2, 4, 8, 16…..) and food production grows arithmetically (1, 2, 3, 4, 5…) the shortage of food and the famines and wars that it will cause would be a limiting factor on population growth. This theory was countered much more recently in 1965 by a Danish economist, Esther Boserup, who believed that the increase in demand for food would finance the developments in food technologies and production techniques. Simply by looking at these two famous theories (at least in the world of demographics) it is clear that economic development may in fact facilitate economic development or indeed it may be a seen as result of it. Like the DTM Rostow’s stages of economic growth is based on changes in North America and western Europe. His model is divided into 5 stages, the conditions required for each closely correlate with those that drives the stages in the DTM. Is the Demographic transition an inevitable progression or a general tend shaped by policy and circumstances? Compare the experiences of those original countries studied by Notestein to countries such as India and China where government population policies have been very influential in determining structural change in population. Also are some countries in danger of not progressing into stage 4 and 5 – is economic development being stunted?

Geofile no.507 Sept 2005 and China

Demographic Change and Population Policy in India

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