Factors affecting rates of population change across the world.

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Alex Calloway

Factors affecting rates of population change across the world

Throughout the world today, ones can see huge differences in rates of population change, from massive population growth rates to a gradual decline in population.

There are some countries in the world today, where the rate of population change is extremely low and such a situation can occur for a number of reasons. When one reads of population growth or decline, it is impossible to avoid discussion of China’s one child policy. However, this policy is an extreme violation of human rights and is limited to just one country and so should not form the basis of a discussion of population growth rates or as an example of a country with low growth rates. Instead, it seems apt to concentrate on those countries where government influence is not so draconian or tyrannical. Italy is one country with a negative rate of population change and does provide an example of many reasons why this situation can occur.

Following the Second World War, Italy experienced a rapid process of industrialisation, geographically concentrated in the North, given Italy’s current level of development and its late beginnings, it is simple to imagine how quickly the process occurred, as this graph, taken from , shows.

This development gave the citizens of Italy much improved health care provision, which in turn gave the country a decreased infant mortality rate and a much greater life expectancy.

Whilst one would have expected an increase in the growth rates following this decline in infant mortality, as more children survive, the effect was much less clear-cut in Italy. In many other countries where industrialisation was much slower, there was indeed a large increase in rates of population change as infant mortality and death rates decreased whilst birth rates remained high. Occurring gradually, this process had a much larger affect than in Italy as each generation in turn had a greater proportion of people of a child bearing age and hence birth rates would increase as well as death rates as a larger percentage of the population were able to have children. However, as industrialisation occurred so rapidly in Italy, one did not see this gradual increase in the percentage of population in childbearing age. As a result, growth rates did not increase as in other countries that industrialised.

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After this, as in other countries that industrialised, birth rates decreased. This correlates with increased economic growth as individuals can gain economically from limiting family sizes and having more money for spending, saving or investing. In addition, as a country becomes more industrialised there is better availability of contraception and family planning facilities enabling those who chose to have fewer children to do so.

Yet, apart from all of this, the main reason for Italy’s negative rate of population change is society’s attitude. The people of Italy are choosing to have fewer children due to a combination of all the ...

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An excellent account of the reasons why population growth rates vary around the world based on three well chosen and justified case studies. Further incorporation of data demonstrating birth/fertility rates in comparison to death rates would benefit this answer. 5 Stars