Question : “Examine how the demographic transition model may be applied to a named Caribbean society.” The demographic transition theory is the process by which some societies have moved from high birth and death rates to relatively low birth and death rates as a result of technological development. The demographic transition model can be applied to the Caribbean islands. Due to the technological development of Barbados, high birth and death rates have been dramatically reduced. In European societies during the nineteen century, growth was differentiated into three phases. The pre-industrial era and the early stages of industrial development both had high birth rates and death rates, producing a stable growing population. Phase two was developed due to the improvements in economic development and living standards. Therefore this Phase had falling mortality rates. However, fertility rates continued at a high level. Further technological improvements and life expectancies resulted in the reduction of fertility rates. This led to phase three of the transition. Similarly, the first three stages of the demographic transition model are similar to the phases of the European societies in the 19th century. In the first stage high birth and death rates occur. In the second stage high birth rates and low death rates are prevalent. Both low birth and death rates are common in the third and fourth stages. However there is a fluctuation in the birth and death rates in the fourth stage. Moreover this demographic transition theory can be applied to the Caribbean countries and in particular Barbados. The fertility rates in Barbados are relatively low, approximately 1.9 children per woman. Nevertheless, this was not always so. There has been fluctuation in the birth and death rates throughout the centuries due to various events such as slavery and the world wars. In 1829-1832 the birth per 1000 women was approximately 40.7 whereas the death rate was approximately 30.6 per 1000 (Population). The country therefore had a natural increase of 10.1 per 1000. However in the early 1960’s, Barbados saw a steady reduction in birth and death rates due to advances in technology. In 1976 the birth rate per 1000 women was 8 and the death rate per 1000 was 9. Barbados was the first country in the Caribbean to launch an official family planning program which was the most successful in the Caribbean. The main contributing factor to the spectacular decline in birth rates since 1960 in Barbados has been the widespread availability and use of contraceptives. Thomas Malthus predicted that world population growth would outstrip food supply resulting in poverty and misery, however he did not foresee that the population growth would be reduce dramatically through the improvement of technology and the use of contraceptives. He advocated preventative checks such as moral restraint and abstinence. He however admonished the use of contraceptives, stating that it was a vice. The Neo- Malthusians re-emphasized the dangers of overpopulation. They however, did not agree with Malthus on the idea of moral restraint. They believed in the use of contraceptive methods. Contrary to what Malthus propose, the use of contraceptives and family planning, not abstinence or moral restraint has decreased population growth significantly in Barbados. According to CIA world Fact book, July 2012 estimates shows that Barbados has 12.23 births per 1000 women whereas the death rate was 8.39 per 1000. The health care in Barbados has improved significantly due to advances in technology. Research in Barbados has shown that the drinking water and sanitation facility access have improved in the rural and urban population by 100% as of 2008. The improvement of the education sector in Barbados also contributes to low fertility rates. The government spends approximately 6.7% of GDP on education expenditure. Barbados has a fertility rate of 1.9. Unfortunately this is below the replacement level of the current population. This suggests that very little population growth occurs. Women in Barbados are career oriented. The increase in female literacy and employment opportunities lowers the acceptance of childbearing and motherhood. Working women have less time to raise children especially in societies were fathers make little or no contribution to child- raising. Societies’ values have changed throughout the centuries. The increase in urbanization has changed the traditional values placed upon fertility and the value of children in society. Parents realize that they do not need so many children to ensure a comfortable old age. Likewise as infant mortality continues to decrease and income increases. Parents can become increasingly confident that fewer children are needed to help in the family business. Society therefore views children as an economic burden. It can therefore be concluded that the demographic characteristics of the population in Barbados, places the country at the third stage of the 5demographic transition model. With more planning, improvements and advances in technology Barbados will be heading to the post industrial stage of the demographic theory. In conclusion, the demographic trasition theory can be applied to Barbados. Characteristics such as low birth and death rates and technological development in Barbados place them in the third stage of the model. It was noted that decreases in birth rates is caused by a transition in values and not just because of the availability of contraceptives. Likewise the improvements of technology have played a significant role in the reduction of fertility rates and high death rates in Barbados.
* CIA World Fact book, July 2012 estimates. www.theodora.com/wfbcurrent/barbados/barbados-people.html
* World population , volume 79
By the United States, Bureau of the census International Statistics Program Centre
* Rhonda Reddock, Christine Barrow, Caribbean Sociology Introductory Readings, Illustrated edition, Published by Ian Randel 2001