There are many important demographic concepts to understand when studying how population and society work. Migration, demographic transition, and population control are three of many concepts which play a key role in understanding these ideas. Below are the definitions of these concepts and applications of each around the world.
“Migration is defined as any permanent change in residence. It involves the ‘detachment from the organization of actives at one place and the movement of the total round of activities to another’” (Weeks 264). Many things can determine migration and why people migrate to where they do. One important theory of migration, called the push-pull theory, describes such an idea. The push-pull theory says that some people move because they are pushed out of their former location, whereas others move because they have been pulled, or attracted, to another location. One example of this would be the potato famine that occurred in Ireland during the late 1840s. The Great Famine was a period of mass starvation, disease and emigration in Ireland between 1845 and 1852 during which the island's population dropped by 20 to 25 percent. Approximately one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland. The lack of food pushed the people to migrate to new locations where there was a pull of available food sources. There is always a reason for migration and a pattern of migration that is important in understanding population and society. Migration explains for the changes in population as well as the needs or desires of the people. It is an important demographic concept because these ideas are important in the overall wellbeing of a county and its continuation on into the future.
“Demographic transition is the process whereby a country moves from high birth and high death rates to low birth and low death rates with an interstitial spurt in population growth, accompanied by a set of other transitions, including the migration transition, age transition, urban transition, and family and household transition” (Weeks 548). The transition involves four stages, or possibly five. In stage one, death rates and birth rates are high and roughly in balance. In stage two, the death rates drop rapidly due to improvements in food supply and sanitation, which increase life spans and reduce disease. These changes usually come about due to improvements in farming techniques, access to technology, basic healthcare, and education. Without a corresponding fall in birth rates this produces an imbalance, and the countries in this stage experience a large increase in population. In stage three, birth rates fall due to access to contraception, increases in wages, urbanization, a reduction in subsistence agriculture, an increase in the status and education of women, a reduction in the value of children's work, an increase in parental investment in the education of children and other social changes. Population growth begins to level off. During stage four there are both low birth rates and low death rates. Birth rates may drop to well below replacement level as has happened in countries like Germany, Italy, and Japan, leading to a shrinking population, a threat to many industries that rely on population growth. As the large group born during stage two ages, it creates an economic burden on the shrinking working population. Death rates may remain consistently low or increase slightly due to increases in lifestyle diseases due to low exercise levels and high obesity and an aging population in developed countries. In order to move through demographic transition a country must take the step towards stage one otherwise it will never do so. However, it is important to understand that these stages are a generalization that applies to countries as a group and may not accurately describe all individual cases. The extent to which it applies to less-developed societies today remains to be seen. Many countries such as China, Brazil and Thailand have passed through the demographic transition very quickly due to fast social and economic change. Some countries, particularly African countries, appear to be stalled in the second stage due to stagnant development and the effect of AIDS. Therefore, demographic transition is an important concept in population and society because it describes the process through which countries go to achieve the best benefits for their citizens and at the same time highlights the potential obstacles that may stand in the way of an increased standard of living.
Population control is the practice of artificially altering the rate of population growth. Historically, population control has been implemented by limiting the population's birth rate, usually by government mandate, and has been undertaken as a response to factors including high or increasing levels of poverty, environmental concerns, religious reasons, and overpopulation. While population control can involve measures that improve people's lives by giving them greater control of their reproduction, some programs have exposed them to exploitation. One example, of population control would be in China where they enforce the one child policy. The one child policy is the population control policy of the People's Republic of China. The Chinese government refers to it under the official translation of family planning policy. It officially restricts the number of children married urban couples can have to one, although it allows exemptions for several cases, including rural couples, ethnic minorities, and parents without any siblings themselves. The Chinese government introduced the policy in 1979 to alleviate social, economic, and environmental problems in China, and authorities claim that the policy has prevented more than 250 million births from its implementation to 2000. The policy is controversial both within and outside China because of the manner in which the policy has been implemented, and because of concerns about negative economic and social consequences. The policy has been implicated in an increase in forced abortions and female infanticide, and has been suggested as a possible cause behind China's gender imbalance. Nonetheless, a 2008 survey undertaken by the Pew Research Center showed that over 76% of the Chinese population supports the policy. Population control is an important demographic concept in understanding populations and societies for limiting the population may have a positive or negative effect on the society especially depending on the way in which it is imposed.
Migration, demographic transition, and population control are three of many concepts which play a key role in understanding population and society. Above were the definitions of these three concepts and applications of each. It is important to understand that each demographic concept plays a key role in population and society and that one without the other is simply an incomplete picture of societies as a whole.
"Irish Potato Famine." The History Place. N.p., 2000. Web. 20 Feb. 2010.
Kane, Penny, and Ching Y Choi. "China’s one child family policy." PubMed Central. British Medical Journal, 1999. Web. 22 Feb. 2010. .
Weeks, John R. Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues. 10th ed. Belmont,
CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2008. Print.