Population Trends And Development Sample Essay
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Population Trends and Debate Introduction Population growth is really only a recent phenomenon, where the world population increased from 2.5bn to 6bn in the last 50 years. At present, 75 million people are being added each year, 97% of which occurs in the developing world (Todaro, 2012). To determine if this has any implication on development, I will talk about the demographic transition and the context to developing nations, determine how fertility decisions in the household are made, and finish with three different arguments regarding a resulting relationship between population growth and development. Trends The 19th Century saw a vast improvement in medicine and technology, fundamentally overseen by European industrialisation. Further still, improvements in global sanitation and medicinal advancements in the last 50 years means that human mortality is now lower than at any other point in human existence. These trends are the result of a demographic transition. Accelerated technological progress brought about higher income and a demand for human capital, which in turn led to better education, lower mortality and lower fertility. These effects are reinforced by an increased opportunity cost for child labour, and women entering the labour force so as to increase the costs of child rearing. However, many developing countries are struggling to enter the final stage of the demographic transition, and are still experiencing high fertility rates. This raises the question as to whether high fertility is detrimental to development, and whether there is a relationship between large households and poverty. Household Decisions Many of the developing nations have a large youth dependency. Bongaarts et al have surmised that a growing youth dependency to working-age adults in fact diminishes per capita income. So why are low-income families associated with high levels of fertility? There are various reasons why households may demand children:
1. CONSUMPTION - children are enjoyable today and bring utility
2. PRODUCTION - children provide a source of income via child labour
3. INVESTMENT - they can provide old-age care and insurance to parents As with all goods, there is a quantity-quality trade off approach put forth originally by Kremer, and again by Becker and Lewis. Fewer children today provide the opportunity to invest more capital and see a greater return in the future, at the expense of less income from child labour. However, such a trade off choice may
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