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Demographics Lab

Lessons > Social Impacts > For Your Consideration

The term "demographic transition" was originally based on the model of Western European countries although it is now applied to every country in the world. Issues of culture, religion, government, economy, and natural resources, among others, affect this transition. You might find that where a country stands in the demographic transition may give you some idea of the problems it is currently facing and those that it has overcome in the past. The determination of "first," "second," and "third world" countries is purely fictional and subjective, but the higher prevalence of disease, famine, and war (typically civil) are more endemic to those countries categorized as "third world" than the more highly developed countries in the "first world." "First world" countries, on the other hand, are plagued by urbanization, pollution, higher energy needs due to higher standards of living, and higher instances of drug and alcohol abuse and social disorders. Although the "first world" countries are now, for the most part, either approaching a zero population growth or heading toward a negative population growth, the overall effect has been an exponential population boom that occurred concurrently with the Industrial Revolution.

  1. In "third world" countries, what could be done to slow population growth? How might that be enforced? What are the more effective ways of maintaining a near zero population growth?
  2. Due to population momentum, any policy change is slow to effect population growth rates. With this in mind, how do you imagine population pressures will shape relationships between countries in the 21st century?
  3. How might the culture of an aging population differ from that of a culture more highly populated by children? From what you have previously read in the text, what kinds of issues do both cultures have in common, and what might be done to attend to these issues?

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