Back To CourseSociology 104: World Population
8 chapters | 88 lessons
As a member, you'll also get unlimited access to over 75,000 lessons in math, English, science, history, and more. Plus, get practice tests, quizzes, and personalized coaching to help you succeed.Try it risk-free
Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.
Let's talk about where babies come from. They come from a stork; everybody knows that!
Across the world, there are nations that have experienced extremely high rates of fertility, or rates of birth, over the last half-century or so. Now, this has put our poor hypothetical stork under a lot of pressure, working overtime, nights, weekends, etc. However, this fertility boom was not entirely unexpected. Since the early 20th century, the world has been developing global industrial economies and as this happens, people noticed that nations went through similar trends. The hypothesis that nations will undergo similar changes in fertility and mortality as they industrialize is called the demographic transitions theory.
The pattern starts with increasing fertility and decreasing mortality, creating a population boom, then moves to more stable population growth with a lower fertility rate. This general pattern has been observed in places like Jordan, Mexico, and India, regions with high but stable fertility. While there are exceptions to this theory, in general, nations do see similar patterns of birth and death rates as they develop industrial economies. So, sorry, Mr. Stork, but you really should have seen this coming!
Let's follow the stork on some of his routes and see for ourselves what's going on in the world.
Looks like our first stop is Jordan. This isn't surprising; many of the Arabic-speaking nations in this region have been experiencing population growth over the last few decades. Jordan's birthrate since the 1990s has remained high but pretty stable, right at just over an average of 3 children per adult woman. In fact, it's actually slowly going down. While it was at 3.5 in 1995, it was down to 3.2 by 2010. That's not a huge decrease, but still, that's good news for our stork.
What we are seeing in Jordan is actually completely in line with what we expect according to the demographic transition theory. Before Jordan developed a major industrial economy, their birth and death rates were both high and unpredictable. That's common in areas without industrial economies.
As Jordan industrialized from the 1950s to 1970s, death rates dropped and fertility increased, both as a result of better medical technology. So they had a population boom. Then, from the 1970s to early 2000s, death rates and birth rates both decreased. That's common. As nations fully industrialize, there tend to be more economic and educational opportunities for women, so people often choose to have smaller families and the population stabilizes. That's where Jordan is today, with a stable, steadily growing population as medical care continues to improve but more women are entering the workforce.
Jordan is a great example of what we expect to see according to the demographic transition theory. But it's not the only example. Let's look at Mexico, another nation that has seen a substantial change in fertility over the last decade. Throughout the earlier 20th century, Mexican fertility rates were around 6 children per adult female, which is really high. Then in the 1970s, death rates decreased and fertility increased, just like they did in Jordan during industrialization. At this point, Mexican fertility was as high as an average of 7.2 children per adult female. That's a very high rate and so the Mexican population grew really fast. Generally, you don't want that much growth; that puts a lot of stress on the state.
Luckily, Mexico's population stabilized, just like Jordan's, once the industrial economy was more uniformly implemented across the nation. The national fertility rate in Mexico now is at 2.2 children per adult female, which is much more sustainable. However, this is a great example of how these numbers can be a bit deceiving. While the overall fertility is stable, this changes by region. Rural areas of Mexico, where birth control and medical care are not as available, still have much higher fertility rates than the urban centers, which can cause problems for local governments.
Looks like the last stop for the stork today is India. Now, currently, India's fertility rates are around an average of 2.5 children per adult female. Fertility has been an issue in this country. India had a massive population boom throughout the 20th century and actually was one of the first nations to start implementing policies designed to decrease fertility way back in the 1950s. Now, India's fertility, like that of Jordan and Mexico, has gone through some predictable ups and downs.
However, it's important to note that India only recently started keeping accurate population records. A lot of the data we have on birth and death rates from the 20th century are really just estimates, and modern researchers think that these could be off by as much as 8 to 9%. That's a lot. What this means is that what looks like a decline in fertility could, in part, just be the result of more accurate record keeping. That's something important to keep in mind when doing this sort of research. Granted, better records don't make anything easier for the stork, but they sure are useful for us.
Over the last century, fertility, or birth rates, have changed a lot. Many people explain this through the demographic transition theory, which states that nations will undergo predictable changes in birth and death rates as they industrialize. This is generally attributed to access to medical technology and changing educational and employment opportunities that tend to accompany the development of industrial economies.
The pattern starts with increasing fertility and decreasing mortality, creating a population boom, then moves to more stable population growth with a lower fertility rate. This general pattern has been observed in places like Jordan, Mexico, and India, regions with high but stable fertility.
In Jordan, fertility rates are at an average of 3.2 children per adult woman. In Mexico, current rates are around 2.2 children per adult woman, although in the boom of the 1970s it was as high as 7. India currently has average fertility rates of 2.5 children per adult woman, which is stable, but still high considering India's dense population.
Where will their fertility rates go from here? Only time will tell, but we can continue looking to the demographic transition theory to guess. But hopefully, we'll get to the point where the stork can take a much needed vacation!
After concluding this lesson, students will have the confidence to:
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Already a member? Log InBack
Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.
To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page
Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.
Back To CourseSociology 104: World Population
8 chapters | 88 lessons