The Concept of Demographic Transition


Demographic transition refers to a hypothesis that explains a population transformation (Long par. 1). Based on the supposition of demographic transition, a swing towards low fertility and mortality is attained in the presence of general modernization emanating from sufficient overall socio-economic progression, women empowerment, improved education, urbanization, and industrialization. This swing causes at first a decline in mortality via development in sanitation and medicine; and subsequently, a drop in fertility stimulated by economic growth. Mortality drop as a prerequisite for fertility drop forms the backbone of this concept upon which, parents base their decision to cut down on their fertility. The theory remains the major guideline for interpreting the dynamics of mortality and fertility modification (Economic Commission for Africa 1).

Birth and fertility rates

Various factors impact birth and fertility rates. These factors include; (a) the mean level of prosperity and education; (b) involvement of children in the labor force; (c) urbanization; (d) expenditure for children’s upkeep and education; (e) learning and employment prospect for mothers; (f) infant mortality rate; (g) the mean marriage age; (h) accessibility of public and private pension scheme; (i) accessibility of lawful abortion (j) accessibility of contraceptive; (h) cultural norms, traditions, and religious believes (Ch. 11 – Human Population: Growth, Demography, and Carrying Capacity 3).

Death rates

A drop in the Crude Death Rate [CDR] has been responsible for a brisk increase in population across the globe. This increase is an attribute of improvement of the health of a nation. The major pointers of the overall health of a nation are; life expectancy, and infant mortality rate. Life expectancy is a term used to signify the mean number of years a newborn can attain. An elevated life expectancy indicates the high overall health of a nation and vice versa. Infant mortality rate represents the number of babies per 1000 births yearly that die in one year. Infant Mortality Rate is the major indicator of a society’s quality of life signifying the general level of health care and nutrition. High mortality rates reflect a low quality of care, drug addiction amongst expecting mothers as well as high birth rates among adolescent women. Babies born to adolescent mothers are more probable to have low birth weights which primarily fluence infant deaths (Ch. 11 – Human Population: Growth, Demography, and Carrying Capacity 3 & 4).

Phases of demographic transition

The concept of demographic transition categorizes population by assorted consideration of mortality and fertility. Demographic transition can be classified into the four phases (Zarnoun and Tabatun 17-, cited in Economic Commission for Africa 10) described in the proceeding paragraph.

Firstly, a pre-transition phase characterized by high fertility and mortality rate fluctuating between 30-40 births/deaths per thousand persons, thereby translating to low population growth. The second phase is characterized by high fertility, but a high mortality rate which starts to drop resulting in inclining population growth. The third phase is characterized by decreasing fertility with a consistent faster decline in mortality resulting in the population growth starting to fall. The fourth phase is the post-transition characterized by the equilibrium between low fertility and low mortality, 10 per thousand, leading to low population growth (Ch. 11 – Human Population: Growth, Demography, and Carrying Capacity 4).

Migration and environmental degradation

In the present, migration concerns the deliberate movement of persons from less prosperous places to more prosperous places. For instance, in 1995, 27 million refugees moved from one nation to another to flee drought, resource inadequacy, deforestation, soil erosion, and desertification (Ch. 11 – Human Population: Growth, Demography, and Carrying Capacity 4).

Also, between 1988 and1998, 50 million people were rendered destitute by calamities beyond human control, such as earthquakes, landslides, floods, and hurricanes. Nevertheless, the majority of developed countries restrict immigration except a few like Australia, Canada, and the United States (Ch. 11 – Human Population: Growth, Demography, and Carrying Capacity 4).

Implications of Phase IV demographic transition

Adverse effects of gradual population decline can be contained, as opposed to rapid population growth decline characterizing phase IV demographic transition. A rapid population decrease can culminate in serious social and economic problems. A sharp incline in the ratio of the elderly will result in the hefty government’s investment of health care, social security, plus other expensive social provisions. Also, this will eventually cause labor shortages which will necessitate the utilization of progress automation and immigration of foreign workers or both (Ch. 11 – Human Population: Growth, Demography, and Carrying Capacity 5).

Japan which recorded a 1.4 Total Fertility Rate [TFR], is experiencing a decline in the workforce, thereby opting for increased automation and women labor involvement outside their homes. Nevertheless, Japan is resisting immigration pressure dreading a disintegration of her social integrity (Ch. 11 – Human Population: Growth, Demography, and Carrying Capacity 5).

Immigration offers a solution for dwindling population size in many perspectives. For instance, in the United State immigrants afford labor force for positions majority of the Americans refuse to take; pay taxes; increase the demand for commodities and services; increase demand for social amenities; and they bear children who become US citizens automatically (Ch. 11 – Human Population: Growth, Demography, and Carrying Capacity 4).

Impact of economic development on reduced births (Ch. 11 – Human Population: Growth, Demography, and Carrying Capacity 7)

When a country becomes more industrialized, their mortality is the first to decrease followed by fertility. This transformation occurs in four phases which include:

  • Pre-industrial phase: – entails harsh livelihood, elevated infant mortality rates, increased death rates, and prerequisite high birth rate. Thus, the population growth rate is small.
  • Transitional phase: – characterized with the beginning of industrialization, increase in food production, elevated medical care, and decline in death rate while high birth rates are maintained. This translates to rapid population growth between 2.5 to 3% per year.
  • Industrial stage: – at this phase industrialization is extensive. The birth rate declines and advances to the mortality rate. Such changes are attributes of increased availability of contraceptives, reduced infant mortality, increased employment chances for women, the elevated cost of children upkeep, through HS and college. These factors lead to a slow rate of growth.
  • Post-industrial phase: – characterized by a further decline in birth rates. A total of 37 nations are in this stage, majorly comprising Western Europe, representing, 12% of the total world’s population.

Works Cited

Economic transition for Africa. The state of demographic transition in Africa. Food security and sustainable development Division (FSSDD). 2001. [pdf].

Human Population: Growth, Demography, and Carrying Capacity. n.d. 2011. Web.

Long, Russ. World Population and Global Inequality. 2010. Web.