Lecture 14 - Demographic Transition in Developing Countries

author: Robert Wyman, Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: May 14, 2010,   recorded: March 2009,   views: 2993
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)
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By 1950, in most of the underdeveloped world, mortality had fallen to about half its pre-modern rate. The birth rate, however, had remained high and, by 1950, was about twice the death rate. For the rest of the century, both rates fell dramatically and in parallel, maintaining the gap. The enormous excess of births over deaths in this period is known as 'the population explosion.' By 1990, the world population was growing at almost 90 million a year. Comparing the Demographic Transition in Europe and in the currently developing countries, the latter started 100 years later at a much lower economic level, fell from much higher birth and death rates, occurred much faster and with a much higher population growth rate, and added vastly more people. The developing countries saw the benefits that had accrued to the West as a result of the transition and then rapidly appropriated it for themselves. But while European countries may have quadrupled their population over 200 years, third world countries grew by as much as ten times in a much shorter period and they are still growing at a rapid rate. The problems of this rapid growth (still about 80 million a year) abound. The traditional scourges of starvation (9 million deaths a year), disease (AIDS, Tuberculosis, Malaria -- all claim between 1 and 2 million deaths per year) and war (Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs with approximately 200,000 deaths) are all far too small to stabilize population. People in developing countries who want to limit their fertility, are often afraid of contraceptives (especially side-effects) and yet are willing to undergo horrendously dangerous illegal abortions to avert a childbirth.

Reading assignment:

Harrison, Paul. The Third World: Population, Environment, and a Sustainable World, pp. 221-235

Philips, James F., Sajeda Amin and Gholam M. Kamal. "The Determinants of Reproductive Change in Bangladesh: Success in a Challenging Environment." World Bank Publications (June 1994), pp. 1-6 and 131-151

Resources: Notes - Lecture 14 [PDF]

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