Social & Economic Changes
According to Macionis (2011), the richest and most technologically advanced countries in the world — have the lowest population growth rates (below 1 percent) (Macionis, 2011). The poorest and least technologically advanced nations have the highest population growth rates (2.4 percent) (Macionis, 2011). Because these countries have the least amount of resources and infrastructure, the growth rates in poor less advanced cultures are unsustainable. According to Demographic Transition Theory poorer less technologically advanced nations will continue to increase in population at these large rates because in less technological nations human resources are valued for farming and manual labor (Macionis, 2011). If the pattern continues in these nations, their populations will face food shortages, medicine, and lack of other resources needed to support large populations. As a result of this difference between developing and developed countries, Europe and the United have shrinking populations but more stable economies.
One of the most important measures that can be used in developing countries to stabilize populations is to empower women. In nearly all societies women with more education tend to marry later and have fewer children. Providing women with educational opportunities delays their first childbirth, thereby reducing the number of childbearing years and increasing the amount of time between generations. Education provides greater career opportunities and may change women’s lifetime aspirations (Berg, Hager, & Hassenzahl, 2011).
Women who are more educated are able to raise their standard of living making having children less of a status symbol. In countries where women are forbidden or severely limited in educational opportunities the birth rates are far higher than in countries where women have education opportunities.
Increasing the education of women also increases the ability of women to control their fertility. As well, educated women are better equipped to create healthier children. This reduces infant mortality rates and reduces the need for more children. The problem is complicated because delivering education in many of the places that need it requires altering values and culture. Many women are not afforded the opportunity to receive education due to culture, religion, and economic factors.
Berg, L. R., Hager, M. C., & Hassenzahl, D. M. (2011). Visualizing environmental science (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons in collaboration with the National Geographic Society. Retrieved fromWILEY PLUS: Ch. 7 of Visualizing Environmental Science
Society: The Basics, Eleventh Edition, by John J. Macionis. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc.
Photo by Scott Evans on Unsplash