Demographic transition is a model used to explain the process of transition from high birthrates and high death rates to low birth rates and low death rates as part of the economicdevelopment of a country from a pre-industrial to an industrialized economy. It was firstdeveloped in 1929 by the American demographer Warren Thompson who observed changes, ortransitions, in birth and death rates in industrialized societies over the past two hundred years.Most developed countries are already in stage four of the model, the majority of developingcountries are in stage 2 or stage 3, and no country is currently still in stage 1. The model hasexplained human population evolution relatively well in Europe and other highly developedcountries. Many developing countries have moved into stage 3. The major exceptions are poorcountries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and some Middle Eastern countries.Stage 1Is the most primitive of the stages where there is a high fluctuating birth and death rate. Becauseof this there is no great population growth. These countries or even tribes have very basic livingstandards such as those in the Amazon rainforest where they hardly have any education,medicaments or birth rates such that population is based on food supply, health of tribe members
etc. Other factors involved are no family planning therefore many children or because of the faithof the people which may look at large families as a sign of virility etc. High death rates are dueto poor levels of hygiene and nutrition with a high incidence of disease and famineUK pre 1760, Parts of EthiopiaStage 2This is a period of high birth rates, however the death rate has gone down to about 20/1000infants who die. This results in a rise in population due to the fact that more infants are surviving.Reasons for which more people may be surviving may be better health care, improved sanitationsuch as water etc, more transport and medical care as well as inventions relating to this. In otherwords this stage involves a slight modernisation in health care raising peoples living standardsas well as there life expectancy.UK 1760-1860, Peru, Sri LankaStage 3The stage in which the birth rate begins to fall whilst there is already a low death rate as wellleading to a slight increase in population. The reason for the fall in births may be due to familyplanning, better education, lower infant mortality rate, a more industrialised way of life and thewant for more material possessions as well as women being able to go out to work. In otherwords these countries are in the final stages of becoming like the western countries such as thestates and those in Europe.UK 1880-1940, China, Cuba, AustraliaStage 4This is the one at which Switzerland is. There is a stable population without much changebecause both the death and birth rate are low and in some cases there are more deaths than birthstherefore leading to a possible stage five.UK post 1940, Japan, USAStage 5A country such as Sweden is currently entering into the negative growth rate meaning that thereare less births than deaths so that the countrys population size is decreasing leading to problems.The fall in birth rate may be due to the increasing emancipation and financial independence ofwomen. As well as single sex relationships and the present economic problem within the UKwhere financial concerns may lead to a lack of children. The ageing population may increase thedeath rate. Countries such as Romania also are experiencing a falling population with birth ratesat10.7 births/1,000 population and death rates at 11.77 deaths/1,000 population. The Totalfertility rate is 1.35 children born/woman with an net migration rate of -0.13 migrant(s)/1,000population. This all equates to a loss of nearly a million people in the last 20 years.Hungary since 1995
Several countries have tried to force the natural rate of change by initiating policies to reducebirth rates. E.g. China and MalaysiaCriticisms of the DTM Strengths include: • The model is Eurocentric, and assumes that all countries will pass through the same stages. Some LEDCs appear to skip stages, e.g. China’s one child policy implemented in 1980 resulted in a rapidly declining birth rate. • It does not take migration into account as a component of population growth/decline. Some LEDCs appear to be stuck in stage 2. Their death rates have fallen, but their birth rates remainhigh, due to cultural or religious reasons. • The relationship between population growth and economic development, seen in MEDCs, has been much more tenuous in the LEDW. • Some countries in the LEDW had a much larger base population than those in Europe at the start of the transition, so the impact of population growth during stage 2 and early part of stage 3 has been far greater. • Model irons out major fluctuations caused by naturaldisasters, wars etc. • Originally no fifth stage in the model • It does not take in the recent phenomena such as AIDS. With 2/3 of the children of sub Saharan African countries are projected to have HIV infection by the time they have reached age 50, the impact of their demographic development is obvious; • It does not consider the positive and indeed negative roles that governments may play; • Or the role of migrationOn the positive side: • it is easy to understand and countries can be compared; • it can be applied globally to all countries; • it provides a starter for all demographic studies • The model provides a useful generalisation of population change over time. • It can be used to compare rates of growth between different countries at a given point in time. • Can be a useful predictive tool, so that future changes can be forecasted. • It can be used to estimate population structure.In comparison with MEDCs, LEDCs generally: • had a higher birth rate in the first two stages; • had a much stepper fall in the death rate; • start with a larger population; • see a steep fall in fertility in stage 3; • see governments playing a more significant role in population management, as opposed to the economics of the country.