Essay on Demographic Transition

The demographic transition is a historically rapid decline in fertility and mortality, as a result of which the reproduction of the population reduces to a simple replacement of generations (Dyson, 2010). This process is part of the transition from traditional society (which is characterized by high fertility and high mortality) to the modern one.

The concept of demographic transition has become particularly popular due to the demographic changes that occurred after the World War II in the countries that freed themselves from colonialism (Dyson, 2010). As a result of a significant reduction in mortality (at first, mainly due to successful epidemic control activities) and steadily high level of fertility, population growth sharply accelerated in these countries, which was called demographic explosion. It has been found that similar changes occurred mainly in the 19th century is presently economically developed countries, but there a sharp acceleration of population growth was accompanied by a decline in fertility and eventually stabilization of population growth (Dyson, 2010; Reher, 2012). On the other hand, quite rapid decline in fertility is currently observed in the Third World countries, many of which (e.g., Iran) are already quite close to completing the demographic transition (Reher, 2012).

The concept of demographic transition includes four successive stages in the demographic history of mankind. Let us denote the fertility rate by F(x), the mortality rate by M(x), then the increase in birth rate will be F'(x), and in mortality rate – M'(x) (Dyson, 2010).

At the first stage, the decline in fertility rate is lower than that in mortality rate (F'(x)> M'(x)), hence the natural increase rate is maximum. By 1925 the industrially developed countries passed this stage.

At the second stage, death rate decreases and reaches its minimum (M'(x)=0, (min)), while birth rate falls faster than death rate (F'(x)<M'(x)), which slows down population growth and leads to demographic aging of population.

At the third stage, the mortality rate grows (M(x) increases) (due to population aging), while decline in the fertility rate slows (F'(x) decreases). By the end of the third stage, the fertility rate is approximately equal to the level of simple reproduction, and mortality rate is below this level. (F(x) ≈ 2.1, M(x) < 2.1, where 2.1 is the level of simple reproduction).

Finally, at the fourth stage, the mortality rate goes up (M(x) increases), and becomes equal to the fertility rate: (M(x) = F(x)). The process of population stabilization completes.

The beginning of the demographic transition is associated with the beginning of modernization processes leading to an increase in production of GDP per capita, improved quality of nutrition, sanitation, quality and accessibility of health care, etc., which in turn leads to a significant increase in life expectancy and fall of mortality rates (Dyson, 2010; Reher, 2012; Newson et al., 2005). Modernization processes lead ultimately to the least significant decline of fertility, but this happens with a noticeable delay. Urbanization and industrial labor destroys the type of behavior when the birth of children made economic sense, and leads to reduced fertility, and the more generations lived in the city after the migration from the countryside, the lower the birth rate is.

Modern people prefer to bring up only one or two quality children, since a large number of children in the family usually adversely affects their educational level and future career. In addition, long-term education leads to increase of the average age of women having the first child (from 16 to 25 and older). As Newson et al. (2005) state, increased independence and education of women is a major factor in fertility decline: as the major burden of bringing children up lies on women, they are objectively not interested in having many children. The pension system also contributes to reduced fertility, as people are no longer so vitally interested in the having a large number of children who would help in their old age.

Currently, developing countries are at stages 2 and 3, the developed ones have passed to the stage 4, the demographic transition has already completed, population has stabilized and will not growth any more regardless of conditions. In our opinion, there could be marked three living conditions and impacts in developed countries that have reached phase IV, which distinguish the n developing countries that remain in earlier phases:

1) Information and high technology. Mankind has accumulated so much information that its quantity transferred into quality influencing the demographic curve. The information worked through technology, making life convenient and comfortable, and it changed the trend of uncontrolled reproduction.

2) Full birth control: the development of affordable and diverse means of contraception, as well as the transition from a random method to conscious planning of birth of each child.

3) Liberal system of values and the disintegration of traditional ideologies in the modern world, leading to fundamental changes in the institution of marriage: the decline of the family institute, that is, wide spreading of legally unregistered forms of marriage and alternative forms of family, the transition from children-centered family model to the individualistically oriented mature couple of partners with one child (Newson et al., 2005).

In future, at the end of the demographic revolution by the end of the 21st century, the general aging of world population will occur (Reher, 2012; Dyson, 2010). If the number of children in fertile nations is also to decrease and become less than the number necessary for the reproduction of population, this situation could lead to a crisis of human development on a global scale (Reher, 2012). The saving path of development can only be associated with knowledge, culture and science, reorganization of economic, political and scientific space, demilitarization of states. In our view, such a social order of today to the future should be fulfilled by the educational system, primarily aimed at educating the most capable and responsible society: this is what the hopes of humanity are connected with and this is what provides grounds for historic optimism as the society comes out of the tumultuous era of demographic revolution.

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