Falling Fertility Essay
The Economist article says that there are many advantages of a falling fertility. The article is about the ideas of Malthius in 1798. It is about the food that will be less because of too many people in the world. The article talks about the increase in population and the negative influence on world development. It shows what is happening in the developed and the developing parts of the world. A lower birthrate will mean a better life. Though there are people who claim that the pressure will still be high because of world numbers that are high. It is thought that governments must do something about birthrates.
When we look at Europe which is developed we see that fertility rates are lower. Also, in the US it is like that. The smaller families are seen to improve wealth and people will have more time to spend the money instead of looking after children. In Europe and Japan people are getting older and the population is growing slowly (Euphix 2009). In Europe the European Union will have to find more money to take care of the growing population of old people. Older people mean more care and health facilities. In japan the rates dropped from about 1.4 to 1.2 in 2009 (Japan Total Fertility rate 2009).
In some developing countries fertility rates are dropping. This helps these countries such as India, Brazil and Indonesia. They develop economically, but if the ‘replacement fertility rate’ of 2.1 drops too low, then it will mean that these countries will not have enough people to help develop the country. Kent (2009) shows this to be the case in Brazil where fertility rates are dropping. The estimated fertility rate there is shown as 1.9 in 2007. This could mean more older people in a number of years and a small young population. This growth in older populations seem to happen in many parts of the world.
In China we have the government’s one-child policy. The government made this policy to help the country develop economically and reduce the pressure on resources. At present China has more than 1.3 billion people. While this is good in modern sense, the more low-educated farmers in the countryside do not see the benefit. They need more workers on the land and would like to have more children. They say the idea is good for the city people. The one-child policy seems to help China according to Derbyshire (2009).
Wealth in the developed and developing countries are very important to many people.In the old days, bigger families meant less money and wealth.
Another point to argue is the newfound wealth of citizens in the newly developed countries. Before the present economic wealth, people were hampered by a big family. Now people in the new emerging rich countries are experiencing an easier lifestyle with more money to spend. The number of millionaires has been increasing especially in China and India and a new wealthy middle class is developing with more disposable income to spend.
This new wealth means an increase in demand for consumables as well as luxury items- the end result is a growing and prosperous economy (“India, China leading world out of downturn”2009). Reich (2009) reports about the phenomenal growth of the Chinese economy in contrast with that of the US. He indicates that soon China will become number 2 in world terms after Japan and in a few more years it will surpass the US who dominated the economic scene for 60 years.
For now the article reports that all of the new developing countries are not seeing the low fertility rate and ‘replacement rate ‘as problematic. The gains overshadow the worry of the future. The current new-found wealth and economic growth should be enjoyed. The present-day demographics of a small dependent family and elderly, means and easier life. Even in the UAE and other GCC countries which face many challenges including future demographics, people are enjoying the better qualities of life.
These countries all experienced rapid development financed through oil revenues. This promoted great economic growth and infrastructure development. However, the low fertility rate coupled with education and training which are in transition and development, meant that experienced labor had to be drawn from outside resulting in a huge expatriate population (Randeree 2009).
Despite the euphoria of the falling fertility rate the Malthus supporters are worried about the pressure on the earth’s resources and ecosystem. They argue that though the birth rates are down the overall population growth will still impact negatively on the earth. Current projections are that population growth will reach 9 billion by 2050.
This is when or before that time when demand on resources will great. Reich (2009) and Al Asoomi (2009) highlights China’s economic growth- this is only possible through increased demand for natural resources such as oil, iron ore, copper and others- meaning depletion of resources to satisfy consumers. Alongside the rapid developments comes the case of pollution, for these economies are heavily reliant on burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil for the present. Nuclear and electric power is expensive and slow to develop. India is another rapidly, heavily populated developing nation .These two economies are seen as the ones to lift the world out of the current economic recession- but at a price (“India, China leading world out of downturn”, 2009).
The contrast is shown of the amount of pollution per capita which is produced in developing continents such as Africa and Asia which seems minimal compared to that of the US. It is the latter that used to be the world’s greatest economy that is the least willing to cut back on greenhouse emissions. The US is rather asking or blaming the developing nations such as India and China to cut back on factory emissions (Jerichow 2009;Raynaud et al.1999).
China was especially reluctant to do so unless the West and the US set an example first. Pierson & Tankersley (2009) report that China has agreed now to cut back on greenhouse emissions. This follows now on a report by the Obama government to cut back on emissions. Both countries are expected to announce and sign their commitments at the forthcoming UN Summit on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2009.
Economic growth for developing nations and the world is a double-edged sword. On the one hand we find the alleviation of poverty and economic prosperity and on the other hand the destruction of the world’s ecosystem and depletion of resources such as water, food and natural resources. Bunker (2003) argues that in the future wars would be fought differently and in a different context. This could well lead to other struggles and wars in the future as some people predict.
Kimball (2008) supports this notion by referring to the scramble for the Arctic by countries such as Russia, Denmark, the US, Canada and Norway. He argues that instead of the world trying to move away from fossil fuels to avoid global warming or to reduce it, the countries mentioned are considering the oil reserves predicted to be in the Arctic. It is estimated that the oil reserves in the area where Russia planted a flag in 2008, which might become exposed after the Arctic thaw due to global warming, is bigger than that of Saudi Arabia at present.
As a measure to reduce the pressure on the world resources it is proposed that governments advocate family planning policies to reduce birth rates in countries where it is still high. However, there is the argument that it is always the rich who wants to advocate to the poor.
It is further argued that if family planning fails and the natural drop in fertility rates do not happen fast enough, then the only other way out is to devise alternative energy forms to reduce environmental damage such as global warming. Governments will have to step in to move away from fossil fuels and spend money on research and design technologies to produce environmentally friendly power such as solar power and wind power (Kimball 2008; Williamson 2008).
In some countries these forms of energy are used such as in Denmark and Spain where wind farms are found. Even here in the UAE the government is also actively boosting the move to cleaner power and has planned Masdar City where it is claimed to be without carbon emissions. Some energy here will be produced through solar panels as the UAE has enough sunlight hours (MASDAR).
In conclusion it can be said that the falling fertility rate has many benefits, especially for poor developing countries as shown above where the citizens can expect to have a better quality of life. However, world populations will still be high and so put pressure on resources which might erupt into power struggles. Furthermore, governments need to spend money to develop alternative power sources and move away from fossil fuels to protect the earth’s environment from global warming and so avoid arguments connected to greenhouse emissions.
Ageing –a renewed strategy to tackle Europe’s demographic challenge (2009).European Commission. Retrieved December 2, 2009, from http://ec.europa.eu/economy_finance/thematic_articles/article14761_en.htm
Al Asoomi, M. (2009, December 3). No halting the dragon’s march. Gulf News. Business p.37.
Bunker, R.J.(Ed.). (2003). Non-State Threats and Future Wars. NY. Frank Cass.
Derbyshire,D. (2009,September 22).One-child is a success, says Labour aide Adair Turner. Mail Online.Retrieved http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article- 1215163/One-child-China-success-says-Labour-aide-Adair-Turner.html
EUPHIX (European Union Public Health Information System) (2009). Fertility Rate.
Subject: Falling Fertility,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 28 September 2016
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