Word demographic problems

The study of human populations. Demographic prognoses. The contemplation about future social developments. The population increase. Life expectancy. The international migration. The return migration of highly skilled workers to their home countries.

Рубрика Социология и обществознание
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Язык английский
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Demography is the study of human populations. It is an important part of sociology and the other social sciences because all persisting social aggregates-- societies, states, communities, racial or ethnic groups, professions, formal organizations, kinship groups, and so on--are also populations. The size of the population, its growth or decline, the location and spatial movement of its people, and their changing characteristics are important features of an aggregate whether one sees it as a culture, an economy, a polity, or a society. As a result some anthropologists, economists, historians, political scientists, and sociologists are also demographers, and most demographers are members of one of the traditional social science disciplines [4].

At the beginning of the 21st century demographic factors have become a crucial determinant of global security. They steadily and dynamically change the formal as well as contextual aspect of security issues. Some contemporary demographic trends have a specific character, and their diversity grows.

Demographic prognoses are the basis for the contemplation about future social developments.

In some areas population growth will exacerbate environmental degradation, competition for scarce resources, vulnerability to disease, support for extremist political and religious movements, and sometimes violent conflict. Chronic high fertility rates in developing nations with narrowly based elites and weak institutions are particularly vulnerable.

Movements from rural to urban areas, or legally or illegally across national boundaries, will evoke tensions, discrimination, and violence; strain health-care delivery systems; and contribute to disease outbreaks, particularly in receiving areas.

The risk is high that some allies in the developing world will be destabilized by migratory population flows.

Divergent fertility rates between ethnic groups with mixed settlement patterns and historical enmity within countries and between neighboring countries will exacerbate instability and conflict, which could ultimately change the balances of power in some regions.

Changes in the structure of the world population are the subject of attention of many scientists as well as world organizations. Since the population changes have also economic and social effects, it is evident that in the period of rapid population changes there is a need and significant demand for information and data concerning the future development of population and its parameters.


The research object of demography is population. Population cannot be taken as a static element; rather it is characterized by a strong dynamics in quantity, structure, spatial distribution and other features. At the same time, changes of various features are, as a general rule, mutually interconnected in a chain way, and they account for a characteristic and vital process of each population.

Populations' own dynamics involves a great amount of processes that at various geographical levels act in different ways and incorporate specific problems. Population growth requires a parallel growth of supplies and services to provide for basic human needs.

Also, population growth exerts pressure on the employment market, GDP production and social stability [1].

A qualified decision in the sphere of economy, social affairs, employment, education, health care and accommodation cannot be made without qualified, properly structured, variable and prompt demographic information. The importance of demographic information further increases with the significant changes in reproductive behavior leading to a transformation of the population structure as well as family and household composition. Apart from information about the past and current population development, information about expected development is needed for decision processes.

In 2003 the UN published a prognosis of the world population, which in contrast to the previous long-term one for the period up to 2150, has a significantly longer time horizon - up to the year 2300. But it is necessary to say that the results for such a long-term prognosis have to be taken with a grain of salt. As more useful we can take results for the period up to the year 2050 [1].

The prognosis is based on the finding that the population increase of the developing countries caused by high birth rate has slowed down, and it is proposed that it will be gradually slowing down in the next period. Thus it will be comparable to the situation in the highly developed countries, where, on the contrary, the prognosis supposes an increase in the contemporary low birth rate. Everywhere, an increase in the average life expectancy is expected.

In the UN projection the world population is supposed to be 8.92 billion people by 2050.

The world population will reach its maximum in 2075 with 9.22 billion, which will be followed by a slow decrease, and in 2300, the size of the world population should be stabilized at 8.97 billion. This prognosis of population growth is derived from the so called medium or, in other terms, optimal estimation. The justification of the statement concerning the achievement of the world population size at this level comes out from indicators of maximum, or in other terms, a relative year to year increase in the world. While the population increase of 2.19 % per a year achieved its climax in 1963, in the contemporary period this increase is around 1.14 %. At the same time in 1989 the maximum in-between year increase of the world population achieved 88 million people.

UN experts claim that even a small change in birth rate could alter significantly the prognosis for the year 2300. An estimate of nine billion is therefore only a medium parameter based on the assumption that each family in the world will have two children on average. If the average number of children per family is one eighth lower, there will only be 2.3 billion people. Although it is impossible to exclude both possibilities, the UN does not reckon with them. Birth rates may change in different regions differently, but overall there is an assumption that regions and countries will show the same demographic trends on a long-term horizon, but the particular levels of development will be reached in a different period of time.

Together with the global population changes it is important to monitor regional population trends. There are 6.9 billion people in the world. Of those, 1.22 billion - that is, 17.9 % of the world population, live in developed countries and 5.69 billion (82.1 % of the world population) live in developing countries. But according to the UN, the prediction of the world population's increase by the year 2050 differs. Globally, there will be an increase of approximately 2.5 billion but most of this increase will take place in the least developed countries (namely Africa). The developing countries have "a kind of delay" of 75 years in their demographic development, compared to developed countries, and the process of demographic revolution in developing countries should be finished in these countries in some 50 years. However, population growth as such will continue for another 50 years. It means that a final solution to this problem can be expected in the second half of the 21st century.

A very problematic region in this respect is Africa where the population growth today is 2.9 %. Other problematic regions include Latin America and South Asia. This last region had 2.2 billion people at the end of the 20th century, which is the same number as the world population in 1950 [3]

A different development is also expected in certain subregions within the larger regions (World Population to 2300). For instance: Three African regions - east, middle and west Africa will have reached an unusually high increase comparing to other regions by the year 2100. In case of this region's countries there is an expected increase in the years 2000 - 2050 of more than 200 % (Chad - 282 %, Uganda - 250 %, Congo - 245 %, Somalia - 240 %, Mali - 230 %).

In Asian regions there is an expected steeper increase in the West, a slower one in the East (Oman - 218 %, Saudi Arabia - 185 %, Pakistan - 138 %, Nepal - 110 %, India - 58 %, Bangladesh - 57 %). By the year 2100 Asia will be 2.2 times more populated than Africa, comparing to today's 4.5 on the side of Asia.

Latin America and the Caribbean, as the most homogenous regions, will follow relatively parallel trends in natality and probable life expectancy (Paraguay - 155 %, Nicaragua - 122 %). North America as the only region will not reach the so called under the increase-level value by the year 2050, mainly due to migration.

In Europe, similarly as in Asia, a greater increase is expected in the West, and a lower one in the East. Eastern Europe stands out with its low values of life expectancy, and even in long- term predictions, it will not reach the level of other regions.

At present more than 60 % of the world population (3.8 billion) live in Asia with China and India only having 37 % of the world population (2.5 billion), followed by Africa with 14 % (1 billion), Europe with 11 % (731 mil.), North America with 8 % (514 mil.), South America with 5,3 % (371 mil.) and Australia and Oceania with 0,3 % (21 mil.).

Approximately 4.83 billion people (70.5 % of the world population) live in 20 countries of the world. The European Union has 501 million people which accounts for only 7.4 % of the world population. In case of the most populated countries of the world, it is possible to see significant differences in population development in the future. In the year 2050 there will be a population increase in, first of all, less developed countries of the world. India will become the most populous country, replacing China. That means that in the period of 100 years (1950 - 2050), we will witness the most significant absolute increase of population; more than 1.3 billion of the population.


According to the prognosis, life expectancy will steadily increase, differing from country to country. By 2100 life expectancy will vary between 66 and 97, and by the year 2300 between 87 up to unbelievable 106.

The population increase will naturally influence the ratio between the population and its life space. The density of population will keep on rising, but will differ significantly between various regions - in 2100 there will be, on average, only 3.6 of inhabitants per km2 in Australia and 540 inhabitants per km2 in Micronesia. Bangladesh will probably be the most densely populated country with 2000 people per km2.

One of the most crucial trends of the future is the aging of population. While in 2000 the world age average was 26 years, in the year 2100 it will be 44 years, and in the year 2300 it will be about more that 48 years. Also between 2100 and 2300 we may expect a rise of population over the age of 65 by one third (from 24 % to 32 %), the number of people aged over 80 and more will double (from 8.5 % to 17 %) and the number of people aged 100 will multiply 9 times (from 0.2 % to 1.8 %). Unbelievably, in the year 2000 the average world retirement age was 65 years, which meant that retired persons would enjoy their retirement for only a short time. If the average age for retirement time did not change by the year 2300, we would be in retirement for 31 years on average.

An interesting demographic phenomenon is the so-called demographic window. This period is characterized by the fact the number of children and youngsters under the age of 15 does not exceed 30 % and the number of people over 65 years and more does not reach 15 % of the whole population. During a period of 30-40 years, people in the productive age become a dominant part of population. This situation will be typical, e.g. in Africa approximately around the year 2045 or later. Europe had its demographic window before the year 1950, and at present it is experiencing the so called third age dominated by old people.

The UN prognosis for the year 2050 expects differences in population dynamics between less and more developed countries to continue. At the present time the population of more developed world regions is rising at a rate of 1.46 % per a year, while the least developed countries are experiencing the fastest growth, up to 2.4 % per a year. These growth tendencies of increase will continue to 2050. Due to low birth rates, the population of developed countries is expected to stagnate or even decrease. For instance, in the case of Japan, the decrease will be 14 %, in Italy 22 %, and in Bulgaria, Russia and Ukraine between 30 and 50 %.

Less developed countries might expect a population increase from 4.9 billion in the year 2000 up to 7.7 billion in 2050. The biggest increase will occur in the least developed countries, where population in the countries like Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Somalia and Yemen could increase even four times [3].

Despite projected growth in the global population from 6.9 billion in 2010 to 7.6 billion in 2020, the working-age population is expected to decline in many countries. Japan already has more people exiting the workforce than there are workers prepared to enter it.

In the European labor market, 2010 marked the first time more workers retired than joined the workforce. While this labor gap is a relatively manageable 200,000, it will surge to 8.3 million by 2030.

By the end of this decade, other large economies such as Russia, Canada, South Korea and China will also have more people at retirement age than are entering the workforce. Other, younger countries stand to profit from those trends.

One-third of India's population is now under the age of 15.

Other emerging market economies with young labor forces such as Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia may benefit from a demographic dividend, a surge in productivity and growth as those workers join the labor pool.


According to the prognoses international migration is not supposed to significantly change. More developed countries might expect 2 million immigrants annually in the next 50 years. Traditional destinations are supposed to be the United States of America, Germany, Canada, Great Britain and Australia. Most frequently immigrants will come from China, Mexico, India, the Philippines and Indonesia.

In 2000 the most populated world countries were China, India and USA. By the end of the year 2050 the leading position should be definitely taken by India. Other countries such as Indonesia, Brazil and Russia will be surpassed by extremely populated countries such as Pakistan and Nigeria.

According to the UN prognoses demographic changes to great extent influence and will influence the lives of individuals, but also countries and regions. Demographic determinants such as natality, mortality and migration can have influence on the position of states in the international system. Because population size is considered an attribute of power of a given state, it is possible that some power configurations might change in the future and new conflict may arise [1].

As the economy recovers, however, demand for labor is expected to bounce back -- and migration along with it. Some countries have taken initial steps to soften or reverse restrictive policy changes that they implemented at the height of the recession.

The dramatic growth of emerging market countries is also beginning to change migration patterns. Although developed markets are still a top choice for economic migrants, we are increasingly seeing reverse migration as well.

According to the World Economic Forum, “The return migration of highly skilled workers to their home countries is a growing trend for emerging countries.”


population demographic prognose international

The Russian Federation - The sprawling, resource-rich heir to the old Soviet Union is the largest country on Earth by land area. Russia's estimated 143.4 million citizens sparsely dot one-eighth of the Earth's surface. The country is a major nuclear power, re-investing it its military and riding a wave of resource exploitation. But all the military power and economic growth in the world won't help Russia's fundamental problem. Russia's population hit its peak of 148.7 million people just before the breakup of the Soviet Union. Population there has been on a slow, steady decline ever since.

Death rates, on the other hand, have been rising steadily at the same time. Demographers call this phenomenon the Russian Cross. Fertility rates have plunged, while deaths among males under 50 have exploded, in part due to alcohol and the crumbling healthcare system. It doesn't take much imagination to see the eventual outcome. There are signs that Russia has begun to slow or reverse this ultimately fatal trend, as birth rates increased slightly in 2009, but the pressures facing the country are tremendous.

The People's Republic of China - China's (in) famous "One Child Policy" was introduced in the late 1970s to address growing social, economic, and environmental problems. The policy was to last for one generation, and it's come close to doing just that.

The Chinese government claims that it has prevented 400 million births between 1979 and 2011 - more than the entire population of the United States. The One Child Policy is perhaps the ultimate example of what happens when human efforts run headlong into a force of nature. A whole host of well-publicized, lurid ills has followed.

For millennia, Chinese society has focused on the family; family size, family stability. A couple who had plentiful children could count on those children to support them in their old age, generate income for the family, and ultimately grow and assure the family's success and prosperity.

The One Child Policy is not applied equally throughout Chinese society. Some 35.9% of the population is subject to strict limit, 52.9% of the population is allowed to have more than one child - if their first was a daughter, and 1.6% is not subject to any limit at all.

If a family is wealthy enough, they may have as many children as it is practical for their circumstances and simply pay the large fines associated with flouting the law. The bottom line for China is that the One-Child Generation will soon have to provide for massive numbers of its aging parents, and this generation will not be able to draw on its traditional sibling support structure.

The picture is an inverted, massively top heavy pyramid. As daunting as this prospect is, it's made even worse by the massive gender imbalance developing in the country. Males outnumber females by nearly 10 million, as a traditional preference for boys takes on a frightening, modern dimension. In a way, the One Child Policy forces couples to choose between any hope of a comfortable retirement and their daughters' lives.

The State of Israel - Israel is facing a unique demographic time bomb, perhaps the only country to experience such a quandary. The problem derives from Israel's stated wish, laid out in its founding documents and philosophy: to be a liberal democracy with an essentially Jewish character. The problem is one of population, population growth, ethnicity, and mutual antagonism. This is a region in conflict in which so very much depends on ethno-religious identity.

However you come down on the Israel/Palestinian conflict, the numbers are inescapable - a simple matter of birthrates: by the year 2020, there will be more people living under Israeli occupation or military administration than in Israel proper. By 2020, the Jewish population of Israel will reach roughly 6.9 million people, while the Palestinian population in Israel and, crucially, the West Bank and Gaza, will reach 7.2 million.

The disparity becomes greater the farther out in time one looks. The question for Israel then becomes one of choice: either a Jewish state or a democracy. With conditions strictly as they are now, it cannot be both. The challenge facing Israelis and Palestinians is to come to some sort of mutually agreeable, workable solution before these pressures become too overwhelming to allow for any kind of peaceful solution.

Japan - Japan faces a rapidly aging population, troublesome unemployment, and declining birthrates - as most of the "developed world" does. Japan has a highly advanced economy and one of the world's longest life expectancies at just over 81 years. But Japan is shrinking. It faces a double whammy of falling birth rates and negligible net immigration. Japanese society has never been particularly welcoming of immigrants and the "fresh blood" they can provide. Japan's own health ministry estimates that the country will lose 1 million people each year in the coming decades until, in 2080, it will have 87 million citizens - more than 40% of whom will be over the age of 65.

There will be unbearable pressure on young workers to provide for the aging population. And these "supporting" workers will most assuredly not have the same job stability as previous generations of Japanese have enjoyed. That is becoming evident even now.

This aging population will tend to want to take advantage of an advanced, pervasive social security regime in place since the 1920s and expanded in the post-World War II era. Supporting generations of workers will have to come up with close to four times the amount that previous generations contributed to the public pot.

Japan is a society which traditionally respects the obligation of the young to the old. But as the population ages and very real burdens fall on the shoulders of younger workers, can it be very long until this respect turns into resentment [2].


The issue of population growth is currently one of the most serious demographic problems. The world population continues to grow and particularly uneven population growth in different regions of the world causes significant economic, social and political problems.

Negative consequences of this development are seen in the developing and underdeveloped countries, where we expect a strong demographic growth. In contrast, the developed countries in the world are experiencing a significant population decline which brings another set of problems in economics and social security issues. For this reason, it is necessary to pay significant attention to current demographic trends in the world, as well as in individual countries.

Most prognoses concerning population development agree that the world population size is stabilizing and population processes will tend to a simple reproduction. What different authors debate is the speed and magnitude of this stabilization. And even if population growth stops in the quantitative sense, the material demands of humankind will continue to grow and exert thus greater pressure on natural resources, public infrastructure, social services and political system.

In the coming century one of the greatest problems facing human beings is the question of how to redesign social, economic, and political institutions to adapt to this new world.


1. Иajka Peter. World Demographic Problems/In The Scale of Globalization. Think Globally, Act Locally, Change Individually in the 21st Century, Ostrava: University of Ostrava, 2011, р.22-26.

2. Greg Madison. Big Problems: These Countries Are Facing Demographic Time Bombs/ Money Morning, July 1, 2013, p.2.

3. World Population to 2300. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, ST/ESA/SER.A/236, United Nations. 2004, 179 p.

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic

5. http://www.rand.org/pubs/periodicals/rand-review/issues/2011/winter/world.html

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