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In some countries such as MEDCs population is stabilizing due to low birth rates and low death rates

In some countries such as MEDCs population is stabilizing due to low birth rates and low death rates.However, other countries, mostly in LEDCs, the population isn’t stabilizing and instead is increasing.Reasons for this are that people are now living longer due to better health care, while poor education and poor knowledge of birth control means that birth rates are increasing while death rates are decreasing leading to overpopulation.

Governments have now begun to recognize the problems caused by population growth and have introduced anti-natalist policies aiming to reduce fertility.

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Countries suffering from overpopulation are India, Singapore, Nigeria, China and India. Here the governments have implied policies such as later marriages, birth spacing and inheritance laws. Also in India, if a man volunteers for a vasectomy he would receive a free transistor radio. However, perhaps the most famous policy of all is China’s ‘one child policy’.

China is the third largest country in terms of areas – 9596960 km2. In terms of population it is the biggest nation with 1.2 billion people, who make up 21.5% of the world’s total population. The problems China faced were that only 7% of China is land area. While only 50% of this land is farmable and only 13% suitable for arable farming. This situation is then made worse by 94% of the Chinese population living in the badly overpopulated southeast of the country, which consists of 43% of land. While only 6% live in the northwest of the country, which consists of 57% of land.

This has led to an imbalance between population and resources. Secondly in 1949, China was made a communist country. At this stage, China sought to maximise its population for military and strategic strength. By 1960 CBR had peaked at 45/1000. The sheer size of the Chinese population put increased demands on services such as food, housing, education and employment. In fact during the 1970s the government feared that further population increases would result in mass starvation by the end of the century.

This triggered the government to enforce anti-natalist policies. Options were considered such as: Increase death rate – however not a legitimate government policy. Encourage out migration – too many Chinese for this to be successful. Import more resources – implications for the rest of the world, especially LEDCs. Therefore the only option was to reduce the birth rate, which led to the 1979 ‘one child policy’. This included: Compulsory abortion if a couple already had one child (if a couple managed to escape abortion and have more than one child then there were economic penalties). The introduction of ‘Granny police’ – who were older women who went round checking younger women weren’t pregnant. Compulsory sterilisation – the government would send in the army to gather men and sterilize them. Later marriages and the use of contraception were also encouraged.

The one child policy found greatest success amongst the urban population – where it was more strictly enforced and accepted. Therefore in 1994 the government introduced the ‘new family plan’. This aimed to educate farmers, in rural areas, on the basis that they will naturally come to understand why fewer children means achieving prosperity sooner.

The outcomes of the one child policy were that the Birth rate was reduced from 45/1000 to 22/1000. In this respect the policy has therefore been regarded as a success. Couples are wealthier due to economic improvements while they no longer fear the official penalties of increased housing, schooling and medical costs for larger families.

However, there have also been a number of problems with the policy. Firstly, there is now an ageing population, which have a number of potential problems in itself. In the early 90s there were about 100 million Chinese people over 60 – which encountered for 9% of the population. By 2030 it is expected to have increased to 25% of the population. This is likely to lead to a limitation in the labour supply. While pensions and retirement benefits are few, and there has never been much state pension for the elderly.

Other problems are that most Chinese families want a son. This has led to some female babies being allowed to die after birth through deliberate exposure, neglect or in some areas the feeding of poisonous berries. This leads to a gender imbalance. This could cause problems for China, as it is likely to lead to a considerable amount of unmarried men, causing social instability and a growing demand for prostitution.

There is also the tendency for the child to become spoilt. This will be the only child a couple will ever have, therefore all their ambitions and money are channelled into the child’s education, well-being and comfort. However, in the course of time such a spoilt child could become the sole support for up to six aged people.

In conclusion, without the one child policy china would almost certainly be chaos and an economic mess. Therefore although there are serious problems with the policy, the success of dramatically reducing the population outweighs the potential consequences that China now faces.

However, it is not only China who have introduced dramatic anti -natalist policies to reduce the population. Indonesia attempted to even out its differences in population density between its inner and outer islands through a transmigration scheme.

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