Understanding the Population of a Country and Potential Changes for a Government.

Topics: Demography, Aging, Population Pages: 5 (1903 words) Published: January 31, 2013
‘’Understanding the population structure of a country and potential changes is extremely important for governments. Using examples explain this statement.’’ A population pyramid is an illustration that shows the distribution of various age groups and gender in a population-typically a country or a region. It can be drawn up for any area, from a whole continent or country to an individual town, village or city. They are also used in Ecology to determine the overall age distribution of a population; showing indications of that groups reproductive capabilities. A population pyramid typically consist of two back-to-back bar graphs, with the population plotted on the Y-axis (one showing the number of females and the other showing the number of males in a particular population in five year age groups- also called cohorts). Knowing the percentage of people in these sectors can allow us to calculate the dependency ratio. There are two groups of dependants; young dependants (aged below 15) and elderly dependants (aged over 65). Dependants rely upon the economically active for economic support. Population pyramids are often viewed as the most effective way to graphically analyse the age and gender distribution of a population as they are presented as a clear image. There are different shapes to the pyramid which tells us different things about the population. A lot of information about the population broken down by age and gender shows many aspects of it, such as development, its birth and death rates as well as the life expectancy. While all countries' population pyramids differ, three types have been identified by the fertility and mortality rates of a country. A Stationary pyramid shows an unchanging pattern of fertility and mortality. A progressive pyramid shows a high birth death rate. A regressive pyramid shows a decline in birth rate and a low mortality rate. Population pyramids can be used to find the number of economic dependents being supported in a particular population. Economic dependents are defined as those under 15 (children who are in full-time education and therefore unable to work) and those over 65 (those who have the option of being retired). In some less developed countries children start work well before the age of 15, and in some developed countries it is common to not start work until 30 (like in the North European countries), and people may work after the age of 65, or retire early. Therefore, the definition provides an approximation only. In many countries, the government plans the economy in such a way that the working population can support these dependents. Population pyramids can be used to observe the natural increase, birth, and death rate. A high dependency ratio can cause serious problems for a country, in these cases a large proportion of a government's expenditure is spent on health, social security & education which are most used by old and young dependents. Also the increasing expenditure on pension becomes a problem too. Young dependents are people who are too young to work, thus they are dependent on others (age 0-15). A high percentage of young dependents means more money is spent on child healthcare and education. Schools cannot cope and young girls are less likely to be educated so birth rates remain high. Over time, more young people move into adulthood and become parents. Many of those are unemployed because the number of jobs cannot keep pace with the population increase. The number of old dependents also increases with time leading to more strain on scarce services and poor infrastructure. An increasingly ageing population causes many problems and sometimes, a decline in the population. Having more old dependents increases the burden on the economically active because of the increasing costs and strain on pension schemes, health care, home care services and sheltered housing and the need for greater public transport. Having fewer births and less young dependents may result in the...
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