Consequences of population changes at different stages of development

Stages in the development process

Stage 1: Traditional Society

This stage is characterized by a subsistent, agricultural based economy, with intensive labour and low levels of trading, and a population that does not have a scientific perspective on the world and technology.

Population in this stage

At this stage, both birth rate and death rate is high. children are an economic benefit to families, reinforcing high birth rates. Children contribute to the household economy by carrying water and firewood, caring for younger siblings, cleaning, cooking, or working in fields and household chores. With few educational opportunities, raising children costs little more than feeding them. As they became adults, children become major contributors to the family income and also become the primary form of insurance for adults in old age.

Stage 2: Preconditions to Take-off

Here, a society begins to develop manufacturing. As the name suggests, the preconditions of development start to appear at this stage. Examples of such preconditions are:
– external demand for raw materials initiates economic change
– development of more productive, commercial agriculture & cash crops not consumed by producers and/or largely exported
– widespread and enhanced investment in changes to the physical environment to expand production (i.e. irrigation, canals, ports)
– increasing spread of technology & advances in existing technologies
– changing social structure, with previous social equilibrium now in flux
– individual social mobility begins
– development of national identity and shared economic interests

Population changes at this stage

As death rates fall, birth rates remain high, resulting in a population explosion. Population growth is not due to increasing fertility, but to decreasing deaths: Many people continue to be born, but now, more of them live longer. Falling death rates also change the age structure of the population. In stage one, mortality is especially high among children between five and 10 years old. The decline in death rates in stage two improves the odds of survival for children. Hence, the age structure of the population becomes increasingly youthful.

Stage 3: Take-off

This stage as a short period of intensive growth, in which industrialization begins to occur, and workers and institutions become concentrated around a new industry.

Population changes at this stage

At this stage the death rate begins to fall while falling birth rates coincide with many other social and economic changes, including better access to contraception, higher wages, urbanization, commercialization of agriculture, a reduction in the value of children’s work, and greater parental investment in the education of children.

Stage 4: Drive to Maturity

This stage takes place over a long period of time, as standards of living rise, use of technology increases, and the national economy grows and diversifies.

Population changes at this stage

The conditions seen at the previous level continues. As birth rates fall, the age structure of the population changes again. Families have fewer children to support, decreasing the youth dependency ratio. But as people live longer, the population as a whole grows older, creating a higher rate of old age dependency. During the period between the decline in youth dependency and rise in old age dependency, there is a demographic window of opportunity called the demographic dividend: The population has fewer dependents (young and old) and a higher proportion of working-age adults, yielding increased economic growth. This phenomenon can further the correlation between demographic transition and economic development.

Stage 5: Age of High Mass Consumption

Here, a country’s economy flourishes in a capitalist system, characterized by mass production and consumerism.

Population changes at this stage

population growth stabilizes as birth rates fall into line with death rates. In some cases, birth rates may even drop below replacement level(2.1 children per woman), resulting in a shrinking population. Death rates in developed countries may remain consistently low or increase slightly due to lifestyle diseases related to low exercise levels and high obesity and an aging population. As population growth slows, the large generations born during the previous stages put a growing economic burden on the smaller, younger working population. Thus, some countries in this stage may have difficulty funding pensions or other social security measures for retirees.

Next topic: The effects of changing size and structure of population on an economy

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