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Managing population change

Population change in MEDCs

Most MEDCs [MEDC: A More Economically Developed Country (MEDC) has high levels of development based on economic indicators such as gross domestic product (the country's income). ] are experiencing slow rates of population growth and some are experiencing population decline.

Most MEDCs are in stage 4 of the demographic transition model [demographic transition model: A measure of population change over time which tracks birth and death rates. ] - the population is high, but not growing. Some countries have a declining population and could be said to be entering stage 5. This means that the birth rate in their country has fallen below the death rate. Most MEDCs have a very low rate of natural increase [natural increase: The natural growth of a population due to the number of births exceeding deaths. ].

The average life expectancy in MEDCs is rising. This is due to:

  • improvements in health care and medicine
  • increased leisure and recreation time
  • improved knowledge about the importance of a balanced diet and regular exercise
  • improved living standards and quality of life

Birth rates in MEDCs are falling as people choose to have smaller families later in life. Contraception is easily available and well understood.

An ageing population

  • As people live longer, the structure of a population changes.
  • Many MEDCs are now experiencing a significant increase in the number of elderly people as a proportion of the population.
  • As birth rates fall and people have smaller families, the number of young dependants is falling and the number of elderly dependants is rising.
  • In the near future this will mean that there are fewer economically active people to support the elderly population.
  • To try to balance out an ageing population [ageing population: A country has an ageing population when the average age of its population is rising. ], some countries adopt a pro-natalist [pro-natalist: Countries are described as pro-natalist if they adopt policies which encourage people to have children. ] policy - that is, they encourage people to have more children by offering them benefits, such as access to childcare and maternity leave.

Back to Population index

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