Friday, 21 January 2011

First Blog -Ageing populations and the possibility of a stage 6 on the DTM

This is my very first blog and I am not 100% what to write about or how to write it and so I am going to apologise before I start as this is likely to be all over the place and not very good.

Firstly I would like to congratulate all of my fellow students for completing the skills exam - I am sure you have all done really well. Most of you also got what you wished for in terms of it being a human paper rather than a physical one. I hope you all have a relaxing weekend ahead of next week when we get to start the new module - ENERGY!

I realise that you are all probably fed up with thinking about population due to having to revise it intensely over the last couple of weeks but I am going to talk a bit about population today as I had a very interesting discussion regarding population change with the Geography department this afternoon. Ageing populations are a problem facing many of the most developed countries in the world. China is one of them and currently has 167 million people over the age of 60 and a million people over 80. This causes huge problems in countries as it depletes the workforce and increases the number of dependants. The One Child Policy has made this issue worse in China as there are only two adults to look after four elderly relatives at best. This means that the Chinese tradition of adults looking after their elderly relatives is becoming more and more unfeasible and so many elderly people end up dying alone. This has provoked the Chinese government to consider making it a legal requirement for adults to look after their elderly relatives (this is the link to the article if anyone is interested ). The article presents a very interesting way of dealing with one of the problems associated with an ageing population and, like my Geography teacher; I too wonder how a proposal like this one would be received in this country. The comments are also worth a read and I think it is very interesting to see that quite a lot of people, including some from China, would actually support this proposal as they recognises that, with around 167 million people aged over 60, that care for the elderly is a huge problem in China. However this proposal isn’t going to solve the issue of an ageing population and surely the problem in China is going to escalate. Anyway this then prompted me to ask the question, do you think that there are any realistic ways of preventing populations from ageing or do you think that it is an inevitable side effect of a country developing to stage 4/5 of the Demographic Transition Model, to some of the Geography teachers. They all agreed that ageing populations are an inevitable side effect of development and that there is very little that can be done to prevent this. The CBR of a country would have to be raised to do this but this would be very hard to do mainly due to the emancipation of women, improvements in contraception and their availability and vast improvements in medicine which has led to a longer life expectancy and a lower IMR. One of the Geography teachers felt that women alone and their desire to have equal rights in terms of careers and education was the sole cause of ageing populations but I must admit that I do not entirely agree with their point of view! France is a perfect example of a country who tried to introduce a pro natal policy to increase its CBR but even the incentives offered have done little to persuade most women to have more children. This article outlines some of the incentives offered in France and in other European countries...... 

The main factor that has caused the UK's population to age is the baby boomers who have now reached retirement age. As more and more of these baby boomers reach retirement age it is possible that the UK's CBR will fall below its CDR which will cause us to move into stage 5 of the DTM but the question is what happens after that? There isn’t a very pleasant way of saying this but when all of the baby boomers die what will happen to the UK's population structure? Is there going to be the need to add an extra stage on to the DTM and if so what will stage 6 look like?

If you have any ideas regarding a possible stage 6 then please comment as I myself am a bit stuck for ideas on what could happen. Sometime over the weekend I will try and write a blog about population growth, in response to this month’s excellent article in the National Geographic, to wrap up the population unit - that is if I remember to!


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