World Population Problems Annual Vital Rates (per 1,000 population) 35 THE GROWTH OF WORLD POPULATION Birth Rate 30 of Argentina and Uruguay)-are growing at rates ranging from moderate to very fast. Annual growth rates in all these areas range from one and one-half to three and one-half per cent, doubling in 20 to 40 years. . The rates of population growth of the various countries of the world are, with few exceptions, simply the differences between their birth rates and death rates. International migration is a negligible factor in rates of growth today. Thus, one can understand the varying rates of population growth of different parts of the world by understanding what underlies their respective birth and death rates. . THE REDUCTION OF FERTILITY AND MORTALITY IN WESTERN EUROPE SINCE 1800 A brief, over-simplified history of the course of birth and death rates in western Europe since about 1800 not only provides a frame of reference for understanding the current birth and death rates in Europe, but also casts some light on the present situation and prospects in other parts of the world. A simplified picture of the population history of a typical western European country is shown in 25H Dealh Rate 20 w 15H The population of the world, now somewhat in excess of three billion persons, is growing at about two per cent a year, or faster than at any other period in man’s history. While there has been a steady increase of population growth during the past two or three centuries, it has been especially rapid during the past 20 years. To appreciate the pace of population growth we should recall that world population doubled in about 1,700 years from the time of Christ until the middle of the 17th century; it doubled again in about 200 years, doubled again in less than 100, and, if the current rate of population increase were to remain constant, would double every 35 years. Moreover, this rate is still increasing To be sure, the rate of increase cannot continue to grow much further. Even if the death rate were to fall to zero, at the present level of human reproduction the growth rate would not be much in excess of three and one-half per cent per year, and the time required for world population to double would not fall much below 20 years. Although the current two per cent a year does not sound like an extraordinary rate of increase, a few simple calculations demonstrate that such a rate of increase in human population could not possibly continue for more than a few hundred years. Had this rate existed from the time of Christ to now, the world population would have increased in this period by a factor of about 7×1016; in other words, there would be about 20 million individuals in place of each person now alive, or 100 people to each square foot. If the present world population should continue to increase at its present rate of two per cent per year, then, within two centuries, there will be more than 150 billion people. Calculations of this sort demonstrate without question not only that the current continued increase in the rate of population growth must cease but also that this rate must decline again. There can be no doubt concerning this long- term prognosis: Either the birth rate of the world must come down or the death rate must go 10 55 0 1800 75-150 years Figure 1. Schematic presentation of birth and death rates in western Europe ofter 1800. (The time spon varies roughly from 75 to 150 years.)
Bottom of Form back up. POPULATION GROWTH IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE WORLD The rates of population growth are not the same, of course, in all parts of the world. Among the industrialized countries, Japan and most of the countries of Europe are now growing relatively slowly doubling their populations in 50 to 100 years. Another group of industrialized countriesâ€”the United States, the Soviet Union, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Argentina-are doubling their populations in 30 to 40 years, approximately the world average. The pre-industrial, low-income, and less-developed areas of the world, with two thirds of the world’s population-including Asia (except Japan and the Asiatic part of the Soviet Union), the southwestern Pacific islands (principally the Philippines and Indonesia), Africa (with the. exception of European minorities), the Caribbean Islands, and Latin America (with the exception Figure 1. The jagged interval in the early death rate and the recent birth rate is intended to indicate that all the rates are subject to substantial annual variation. The birth rate in 1800 was about 35 per 1,000 population and the average number of children ever born to women reaching age 45 was about five. The death rate in 1800 averaged 25 to 30 per 1,000 population although, as indicated, it was subject to variation because of episodic plagues, epidemics, and crop failures. The average expectation of life at birth was 35 years or less. The current birth rate in western European countries is 14 to 20 per 1,000 population with an average of two to three children born to a woman by the end of childbearing. The death rate is 7 to 11 per 1,000 population per year, and the expectation of life at birth is about 70 years. The death rate declined, starting in the late 18th or early 19th century, partly because of better transport and a communication, wider markets, and greater productivity, but more directly because of the development of sanitation and, later, modern medicine. These developments, part of the changes in the whole complex of modern civilization, involved scientific and technological advances in many areas, specifically in public health, medicine, agriculture, and industry. The immediate cause of the decline in the birth rate was the increased deliberate control of fertility within marriage. The only important exception to this statement relates to Ireland, where the decline in the birth rate was brought about by an increase of several years in the age at marriage combined with an increase of 10 to 15 per cent in the proportion of people remaining single.
The average age at marriage rose to 28 and more than a fourth of Irish women remained unmarried at age 45. In other countries, however, such social changes have had either insignificant or favorable effects on the birth rate. In these countries-England, Wales, Scotland, Scandinavia, the Low Countries, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and France-the birth rate went down because of the practice of contraception among married couples. It is certain that there was no decline in the reproductive capacity; in fact, with improved health, the contrary is likely. modernization of Europe. In an industrialized economy, the family is no longer the unit of production and individuals come to be judged by what they do rather than who they are. Children leave home to seek jobs and parents no longer count on support by their children in their old age. As this kind of modernization continues, public education, which is essential to the production of a literate labor force, is extended to women, and thus the traditional subordinate role of women is modified.
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