Key Demographic Trends

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INTRODUCTION

This essay will give an organized description of the main points of key demographic trends in order of importance: mortality, fertility, and migration. This essay will also outline major challenges posed by these trends to future economic and social development in developing countries.

This essay will discuss mortality, fertility and migration in developing countries sequentially. Mortality is the most important key demography. Assurance that their children will be able to survive into adulthood encourages parents to limit the number of children they would bear. Whereas migration is the least important demographic factor among these three factors since it is difficult to measure, especially internal migration. Migration generally based on past trends and current policies which may not be relevant in the future (O’Neill & Balk 2001).

 

MORTALITY TRENDS AND ITS IMPACTS

We can figure out from table 1 that crude death rate (CDR) and infant mortality rate (IMR) in these developing countries are decreasing, while life expectancy at birth are increasing. This information reflects that these developing countries’ government reaches a good progress in socioeconomic development. They are able to improve their population’s welfare and health.

In the past, when IMR was high, parents tended to bear a higher number of children to make sure that some of them would survive (insurance effect) and they would try to have another child to replace the death of one of their children (replacement effect) (Lucas & Meyer 1994). Nowadays, the decreasing IMR will reduce fertility because of two reasons. First, parents feel secure to have fewer children (Lutz 1994). Second, prolonged breastfeeding will act as traditional method of contraception in which it will delay the return of ovulation (Lucas & Meyer 1994).

Table 1. CDR, IMR, and expectations of life in some developing countries in 1960 and 1988

Country

CDR (per 1,000)

IMR (per 1,000)

Expectation of life at birth

1960

1988

1960

1988

1960

1988

Afghanistan

30

23

215

171

33

42

Mozambique

26

18

190

172

37

47

Ethiopia

28

24

175

153

36

41

Sierra Leone

33

23

219

153

32

41

Nepal

26

15

186

127

38

51

Bangladesh

22

15

156

118

40

51

Tanzania

24

14

146

105

41

53

Laos

23

16

155

109

40

49

India

21

11

165

98

44

58

Egypt

21

10

179

83

46

61

Indonesia

23

11

139

84

41

56

Myanmar

21

10

153

69

44

60

China

19

7

150

31

47

70

Thailand

15

7

103

38

52

65

Sri Lanka

9

6

70

32

62

70

Source: UNICEF 1990 

Decreasing CDR combined with increasing life expectancy may lead to population ageing in which the number of the elderly is increasing and the shape of the age structure is changing. The proportion of the old-age dependency ratio will be higher. This situation will increase the burden to the government since they have to provide more funds for pensions and health services budget for the elderly.

 

FERTILITY TRENDS AND ITS IMPLICATIONS

Total fertility rate (TFR) in most developing countries are decreasing. For example, the TFR in Indonesia was decreasing from 5.6 in 1971 to 2.6 in 2002 (SDKI 2002), and the TFR in Singapore was decreasing from 6.4 in 1957 to 1.8 in 1978 (Lucas & Meyer 1994). TFR in most developing countries is experiencing a downward trend due to the success of family planning program, improvement in health services which decreases the IMR, higher education of women and more women labor force participation.

Low TFR will affect population growth. According to Rowland (2006), low TFR will affect the opening and closure of schools, the nature of the demand for housing, the provision of hospitals and health facilities, the spatial patterns of markets for goods and services, and the levels of child and aged dependency in populations. Low TFR will decrease young-age dependency ratio.

Low TFR can bring positive impact toward the environment as there will be less pressure on the environment in the future. However, it depends on the other factors. For instance, even though TFR in a country is low, irresponsible attitude toward natural resources can deteriorate the environment.

Low TFR combined with emigration from developing countries to developed countries can cause shortage of labor in these developing countries.

 

MIGRATION TRENDS AND ITS INFLUENCE ON FUTURE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CONDITIONS

Migration flows from poorer developing countries to the richer industrial countries. There are two kinds of emigrants from developing countries. The first is highly educated and professional people. This type of emigrants can cause ‘brain drain’: university-trained people moving from less-developed to highly-developed countries which can lead to shortages of skilled personnel in developing regions (Castles & Miller 2003).

The second type of emigrants is unskilled or semi-skilled migrants. Most of them would work in sectors which are avoided by native residents in developed countries. For example, unskilled female migrants tend to work as unskilled domestic help. Many of them suffer from exploitation, and this creates additional problems which have to be settled by the government of the developing countries.

There is also an increase in urbanization in developing countries. The concentration of people, services, government and industry, and employment in one city (called urban primacy), leads to unevenly distributed resources in developing countries (Young in Lucas & Meyer 1994). For example, most of Indonesian population is concentrated in Java.

Another effect of urbanization is that it may reduce national fertility. Goldstein (1973 in Lucas & Meyer 1994) suggest that, regardless of migration status, the fertility of urban women is markedly lower than that of rural women.

 

CONCLUSION

Most developing countries are experiencing downward trend in both fertility and mortality rates. Most of their people migrate to more developed countries. Decreasing fertility and mortality rate and migration pattern in developing countries can lead to an age structure alteration in these countries, and can bring consequences which should be anticipated by the government.

By: Yulaecha Padma Ichwanny

REFERENCES

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Rowland, DT 2006, Demographic methods and concepts, Oxford University Press, New York.

Survei Demografi dan Kesehatan Indonesia (SDKI) Tahun 2002/2003.