Optimum population: The population is such that it can maximise the benefits from the resources available. It is only when we have optimum population that the quality of life is maximised.
Over population: The resources cannot sustain the current population. As long as there is over population the quality of life will decline through unemployment, pollution, degradation of the environment.
Under population: The population cannot fully utilise the resources available. Quality of life can only slowly be improved. An increase in population would lead to an increase in quality of life.
A countries government can attempt to influence the population of its country through population policies.
A definition could then read that a population policy is a deliberate attempt by a Government to influence the population of a country. A government could try to encourage or discourage population growth.
A country will form and initiate a population policy if it believes it to be in the best interest of the country and its people.
Case study: Discouraging population.
Reasons for initiating policy: To control and maintain an explosive population in order to pursue economic policies of development.
This is a demographic cycle of China, showing the increase in population since 1950:
Faced with the problems of providing for an ever growing population China first tried to discourage births by promoting "Later, longer, fewer" - later marriages, longer wait before children, fewer children. This failed to have any major influence so in 1979 adopted the infamous one child policy.
The Policy: As the country is very closely controlled by the Government they were able to initiate a strict policy.
Before getting married a couple will be tutored and tested on family planning. Before having a child they have to apply for a certificate from their factory. Only so many certificates are issued annually. If the factory meets certain targets of population control then every worker will get a wage increase.
A couple signing a form promising to have just one child will be given bonuses at work, receive priority for housing, a school and University place for the child and higher pensions on retirement. If the family then have an additional child all benefits are removed. It is also likely to provoke isolation from their peers as it is not seen as being for the good of the country.
The scheme is monitored by factory workers that act as snoops reporting anyone who looks pregnant or 'broody'.
The scheme has been very successful at reducing population growth. Fertility rates and Birth rates have fallen significantly. Life expectancy has doubled. Literacy rates have increased.
The scheme has however been criticised for the following reasons:
- Mothers expecting a second child are 'encouraged' to have an abortion. This encouragement is very forceful. Some women have abortions at eight months.
- The dependency ratios are very high and will increase as the population becomes increasingly elderly.
- Evidence of high rates of female infanticide as parents want male child. The custom in China is that when a couple marry they go to live with the males' parents. This means that they will look after them in old age. If your child is a girl you will not have anyone to look after you in old age.
- Orphanages that are under-funded look after thousands of abandoned females.
- 'Little Emperor Syndrome' - there is a concern that many of the single children are being badly spoilt possibly creating a future society of selfish people.
The scheme has been all but abandoned in rural areas where policing was too difficult.
Alternatively, some countries want to encourage population growth. In France following World War One the government banned all forms of contraception to try and increase the male population that had been badly reduced during the war. This law has since been changed but couples still receive several incentives to have a third child. These include:
- A payment of up to and over £1000 for having a third child.
- 30% reduction on public transport.
- Increased maternity leave to six months with full pay.
Analysis of its population pyramids would reveal bad male deficit after WW1 and WW2 each followed by a period of baby boom.
Whilst the population has grown significantly fertility rates have recently dropped - although they are still above the European average.