Managing population change
Different countries face varying problems when attempting to manage population change. LEDCs [LEDC: A Less Economically Developed Country (LEDC) has low levels of development, based on economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (the country's income). ] have to manage rapid population growth. 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). ] have to manage slow or negative growth and an ageing population.
Most LEDCs are experiencing rapid population growth. Most LEDCs are in stage 2 or 3 of the demographic transition model [demographic transition model: A measure of population change over time which tracks birth and death rates. ]. This means that they have falling death rates, due to improving health care, while birth rates remain high. The recent history of population management policies in China illustrates population-change management problems.
LEDCs have a high population-growth rate which means that they have many young dependants. Governments in LEDCs and international bodies and charities are working to reduce birth rates and slow down rates of population growth.
The high birth rate in LEDCs results in a high proportion of the population under 15. This youthful population gives a country specific problems.
The problems include:
In the late 1970s, the Chinese government introduced a number of measures to reduce the country's birth rate and slow the population growth rate. The most important of the new measures was a one-child policy, which decreed that couples in China could only have one child.
The one-child policy, established in 1979, meant that each couple was allowed just one child. Benefits included increased access to education for all, plus childcare and healthcare offered to families that followed this rule.
China's one-child policy has been somewhat relaxed in recent years. Couples can now apply to have a second child if their first child is a girl, or if both parents are themselves only-children.
While China's population is now rising more slowly, it still has a very large total population (1.3 billion in 2008) and China faces new problems, including:
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:
Birth rates in MEDCs are falling as people choose to have smaller families later in life. Contraception is easily available and well understood.
Many areas of Europe have a low fertility rate [fertility rate: The average number of babies born to each woman. ] because of the following reasons:
France was a country with concerns that professional women were choosing not to have children. The government were worried that the population was not going to replace itself over time.
The policies that were put in place to encourage three-children families were:
This has resulted in mothers considering having children and remaining in work. The fertility rate [fertility rate: The average number of babies born to each woman. ] in France is one of Europe's highest.
The population structure can vary within a country. In England a census [census: A census happens every 10 years in the UK through a questionnaire. It is a head count, and records extra details such as ethnicity, occupation and age. ] is conducted every 10 years to find out more about the population characteristics. The results help to show how the population changes over time and in different areas. Councils also collect data.
There are areas in England which attract people in retirement age. Dorset, Devon and Cornwall are three areas which attract retirement migrants. There are more elderly there than the national average. The population pyramid for the Torbay area shows this.
Learn more about retirement migration here.
Bristol's population is made up of 13.9 per cent black and minority ethnicity residents. This is similar to the national average of 12.5 per cent. However the different ethnic groups are not spread evenly across the city.
Bristol has a large student population. It also has a higher than average percentage of qualified residents (35.1 per cent in Bristol compared to 29.5 per cent nationally). 20.2 per cent of people travel to work on foot or by bike, whereas the national average is only 12.8 per cent.
The census can therefore tell us a lot about local population characteristics.
|Bristol||England and Wales|
|Black and minority ethnic residents||13.9%||12.5% (England)|
|One person households||38%||34%|
|Average price of houses sold||£170,700||£163,100|
|Qualified NVQ4 or above||35.1%||29.5%|
|People who travel to work by public transport||13.5%||14.5%|
|People who travel to work either on foot or bicycle||20.2%||12.8%|
Source: Bristol City Council.