Population and Development an Overview

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1 Schillerstr Berlin Tel.: Fax: Population and Development an Overview by Franz Nuscheler The world population has nearly tripled since the 1950s even though seen globally, the fertility rate today is almost half as high as it was 60 years ago. Instead of five children, a woman brings on average 2.5 children into the world. But since more children will be born than are necessary for the preservation of the parent generation, the world population will continue to grow in the future and these children can also become parents themselves one day. The United Nations (UN) estimates that at the end of the century there will be over ten billion people. The strong population growth is mainly caused by the high birth rate and the resulting increase in the number of young people. At the same time, medical care has improved and the mortality rate has declined, so that more children can grow up. These conditions still exist in many developing countries. In the least developed countries, women still have on average four children, while the child mortality rate over the 1980s was nearly cut in half. Under such conditions the population will continue to grow strongly. However, in other world regions, such as in the majority of countries in Europe, the population is shrinking. Here, fewer children are being born than are necessary to replace the parent population one to one. In Germany, the average number of children per woman is at 1.4. In the future, the population size will greatly change in individual countries. In the global average, the population will grow, but this is not the case everywhere. There is also migratory movement that can lead to a growth or a decrease in the population in individual countries. 1

2 Global Population Growth Country Groups/ Yearly Growth Rate Fertility Rate of Population Projected Population Region/ Countries (millions) East Asia China Japan Southeast Asia Indonesia Thailand Laos South Asia India Pakistan Bangladesh Africa West Africa Nigeria Ghana Burkina Faso East Africa Ethiopia Tanzania Southern Africa South Africa Lesotho South America Brazil Chile Arab Countries Less Developed Countries Developing Countries Industrialized Countries World Data Source: UNFPA State of the World Population 2010 This world population growth is therefore a large challenge for world politics and international development policy because this growth is occurring in 97 percent of the world regions, which are generally among the third world or the South. The fastest growing population is in sub- Saharan Africa despite the large mortality rate caused by AIDS. Additionally, some resource poor African Sahel countries also have the highest birth rates. Here, the high population growth can be connected to all of the negative structure characteristics of under development. Since the population in both poor regions of Africa and Southeast Asia and the population rich Arabic (and Islamic) countries grow the fastest, there is hardly a development policy discussion that does not begin with a population problem and ends with the apocalyptic 2

3 horror and catastrophe scenarios that involve a population explosion. This creates fear because many see this to be the main cause of the feared global march from the poor regions to the prosperous regions of the OECD-world. Migration does not work like a system of communicating tubes that creates a national balance between demographic imbalances. Not only in today s industrialized countries has Malthus law of impoverishment been disputed. Even in a few decades, the experience gained is conclusive in a few developing and population policy success countries that it is clearly possible to reduce the development of population growth and to break from Malthus suggested perpetual cycle of high population growth and poverty. These are not only the East and Southeast Asian Tiger countries, but rather, for instance, the Sugar Island Mauritius, which was able to lower the yearly population growth from four to 0.7 percent through a rapid socio-economic structure change and through systematic investment in education and health care. In the poor southern Indian state Kerala, a high literacy among women has at least contributed to the decrease in the birth rate despite a large rate of poverty among the national average. Thailand provides similar proof for an effective population policy with an active social policy that has yielded an annual population growth of only 0.7 percent (2010). Such outcomes that reduce fertility rates can be achieved when at the same time, sufficient information, possibilities, and means of birth control are offered. In the far eastern growth regions (with the Islamic majority in Malaysia and Indonesia), the average yearly population growth rate will fall by 0.8 percent in the next fifteen years based on UN estimates. The growth of the world population is divided unequally among the regions because in many cases, the level of development and value system of the developing world of the south is different. Between Latin America and Africa, there are far greater socio-economic differences between North and South America. The table shows that population growth is the highest where the statistics show the greatest poverty, mainly where the largest deficits in education and health care are reported, and population growth declines where the literacy rate among women increased and the infant mortality rate has decreased. The experience of the old industrialized countries and the new emerging economies show a causal relationship between demographic and socio-economic development. Their track record also teaches, however, that only an extensive social and cultural change that comes from inside and can be supported from the outside can change the reproductive behaviors of individuals and society. As long as children are seen as gifts from heaven or hold to be evidence of masculinity in macho cultures, shipments of condoms and birth control pills may do very little. By the Hope principle (Klaus Leisinger), the development of the perpetual cycle of poverty and high population growth can be broken, but everything must be considered that the poorest developing countries are already confronted with far greater structural and development problems than today s industrialized countries were during their change from an agrarian to an industrialized society: The population growth in Europe and Japan rarely exceeded the one percent mark in the 19 th century while on average, from 1975 until 1999, the average growth of the developing countries was 1.9 percent and in the poorest countries even at 2.6 percent. 3

4 Europe yielded a significant portion of its population growth through emigration to its colonies and to the American New World, while today, the outlet for migration from the regions with high population growth is increasingly blocked. In a large portion of the third world, the per-capita income is less and the human and real capital is less developed than in Europe, North America, and Japan during the times of high population growth. Consequently, they have a difficult time absorbing the population growth productively. The table also shows that there are large regional differences where contraceptives are in use, such as in Islamic countries where contraceptives could have a religious meaning, but in the poorest countries these regional differences are due to ignorance and the limited access to health and family planning centers. Education, health care, and modern contraception usage Country Groups/ Contraceptive Illiteracy Rate Infant Mortality Rate a Prevalence b Regions/Countries Men Women 2010 East Asia China Southeast Asia Indonesia Thailand South Asia India Pakistan West Africa Nigeria Niger Ghana East Africa Kenya Tanzania Central Africa DR Congo Angola Latin America and the Caribbean Brazil Mexico Arab Countries Less Developed Countries Industrialized Countries a per thousand live births, b modern methods Data Source: UNFPA State of the World Population

5 Many studies have proven that with increasing levels of education, the number of children per woman and the high number of unwanted pregnancies, for which a quarter of the population growth is attributed to, will decrease. Investments in the education system, mainly in the education of women, and in the health care system are not only elementary laws of human rights, but rather, they also count as population policies. An expert from the World Population Council offered a simple solution for this complicated problem: Send every girl to school for eight years, prohibit her early marriage and establish social security, then everything is okay. The development and population policies track records argue against revelling in the defeatist horror and disaster scenarios and instead, give persuasion power to the recommendations of the Cairo World Population Conference: Fight against mass poverty through higher investment in the basic social services; The improvement of education chances, especially for girls and women, and the comprehensive development of basic health services and consultation centers for family planning; The development of a social security system that reduces the pressure to have children so that they can care for the elderly; Strengthen programs for women s development because equal opportunity for women is a principle requirement to develop successful population policy objectives; Finally, higher financial expenditures for bi- and multilateral family planning programs. However, the hope from the success of all of these recommendations that the development and population experts collectively created quickly disappeared because many industrialized countries, especially the United States, not only decreased their financial contributions to multilateral family planning programs, but also did not increase their funds for the fight against poverty that they had repeatedly discussed at international conferences. Therefore, this also threatens to cause the failure of the main Millennium Development Goal of reducing the absolute number of those in poverty by half by If the world population does not exceed nine billion by the middle of the 21 st century, which is not mainly dependent on the demographic momentum, but also on the political will of the political classes in the north and south, then more can be invested in social development. Literature / Links Brown, Lester R./Gary Gardner/Brian Halweil (2000): Wie viel ist zu viel? 19 Dimensionen der Bevölkerungsentwicklung. Stuttgart. DGVN (Deutsche Gesellschaft für die Vereinten Nationen): Bevölkerung und Entwicklung. Informationsdienst (lfd.). Haupt, Arthur/Thomas T. Kane/DSW (Hg.) (1999): Handbuch Weltbevölkerung. Begriffe, Fakten, Konzepte. Stuttgart. Leisinger, Klaus M. (1993): Hoffnung als Prinzip. Bevölkerungswachstum: Einblicke und Ausblicke, Basel/Boston/Berlin. 5

6 Leisinger, Klaus M. (1999): Die sechste Milliarde. Weltbevölkerung und nachhaltige Entwicklung, München. Population Reference Bureau (2011): World Population Data Sheet Washington, D.C. UNFPA (UN Bevölkerungsfonds) (2011): State of the World Population New York. UN Population Division (2011): World Population Prospects. The 2010 Revision. New York. State: September 2011 The Online-Handbook Demography of the Berlin-Institute is supported by 6

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