The Demographic Transition
One attempt to summarize an observed voluntary relationship between population growth and economic development is the demographic transition model. It traces the changing levels of human fertility and mortality presumably associated with industrialization and urbanization. The first stage of that replacement process-and of the demographic transition model-is characterized by high birth and high but fluctuating death rates. As long as births only slightly exceed deaths, even when the rates of both are high, the population will grow only slowly. The Western Experience
The demographic transition model was developed to explain the population history of Western Europe. That area entered a second stage with the industrialization that began about 1750. Its effects-declining death rates accompanied by continuing high birth rates-have been dispersed worldwide even without universal conversion to an industrial economy. The third stage follows when birth rates decline as people begin to control family size. When the birth rate falls and the death rate remains low, the population size begins to level off. The classic demographic transition model ends with a fourth and final stage characterized by very low birth and death rates. This stage yields at best only very slight percentage increases in population and doubling times stretch to a thousand years more. This extension of the fourth stage into a fifth of population decrease has so far been largely confined to the rich, industrialized world-notably- Europe and Japan- but increasingly promises to affect much of the rest of the world as well. The original transition model was devised to describe the experience of northwest European countries as they went from rural-agrarian societies to urban-industrial ones. Beginning about 1860, first death rates and then birth rates began their significant, though gradual, decline. This “mortality revolution” came first, as an epidemiologic transition echoed the demographic transition with which it is associated. A Divided World Converging
The Demographic Equation
Births and deaths among a region’s population-natural increases or decreases-tell only part of the story of population change. The demographic equation summarizes the contribution made to regional population change over time by the combination of natural change (difference between births and deaths) and net migration (difference between in-migration and out-migration). On a global scale, of course, all population change is accounted for by natural change. Population Relocation
World Population Distribution
Within the sections of the world generally conducive to settlement, four areas contain great clusters of population: East Asia, South Asia, Europe, and northeastern United States/southeastern Canada. The East Asia zone, which includes Japan, China, Taiwan, and South Korea, is the largest cluster in both area and numbers. The four countries forming it contain nearly 25% of all people on earth; China alone accounts for almost one in five of the world’s inhabitants. The South Asia cluster is composed primarily of countries associated with the Indian subcontinent-Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and the island state of Sri Lanka-though some might add to it the Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia, Myanmar, and Thailand. The four core countries alone account for another one-fifth, 21%, of the world’s inhabitants. The South and the East Asian concentrations are thus home to nearly one-half the world’s people. Europe-southern, western, and eastern through Ukraine and much of European Russia- is the third extensive world population concentration, with another 12% of its inhabitants. Much smaller in extent and total numbers is the cluster in northeastern United States/southeastern Canada. The term ecumene is applied to permanently inhabited areas of the earth’s surface. The ancient Greeks used the word, derived from their...
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