GCSE Revision - Population - Problems

What are the problems?



Before looking at the Population growth, it is important to understand the reasons why people in LEDC's have large families.

  • Children are needed to work on the land and grow food or for income for the family

  • Few people  have access to pensions so rely on their children to keep them in old age or when sick

  • Many children die when they are young so a couple will have 8 children in the hope that 4 will survive

  • The most popular religions in poor countries - Islam and Catholicism disprove of birth control and encourage large families

  • Birth control methods may not be available

  • Poor education especially of girls

In MEDC's the major problem is that of an ageing population and the reduction of the birth rate. The main reasons are

  • Higher living standards and better healthcare has meant that people are living longer

  • As most children being born survive until old age less children are being born

  • As women have the same rights as men they are putting off having children till later in life

  • Children cost a great deal of money - The average cost is estimated at 165,000 from birth to 18 yrs

  • People do not have to rely on children as they have good pensions and the country provides lots of services for the old age pensioners

  • Many now have access to birth control methods, are educated and now have the choice of a career or a materialistic lifestyle.

  • At present the average number of children per couple in Italy, Spain & the UK is 1.3 - replacement level is 2.1

CASE STUDY - LEDC - China's One Child Policy

The Main Facts

  • Population - 1.3 billion - highest in the world

  • In 1970 families were asked to limit families to two children

  • The One child policy became law in 1979

  • Women must be 25 before they can marry

  • Permission must be given before people can marry and have children

  • Free health care, childcare, education and better pensions provided for those who comply with new laws

  • Fines for parents who have two or more children

  • Forced abortions and sterilisation have been reported


China's 1.3 billionth baby, born in January 2005

What are the Effects

  • Birth rates fell from 33 per 1000 to 16 per 1000

  • Population growth is slowing down

  • It has worked in the towns but not so successful in the countryside

  • Boys are more valued than girls and there has been talk of genocide taking place especially of the girls

  • The population is becoming unbalanced - 110 males for every 100 females

  • The little emperor syndrome has developed with boys being spoilt

  •  Males are having problems finding a wife

  • The ageing population will cause dependency problems in the future

Recent Changes - The law has now been relaxed and:-

  • Families can have a second child especially if they have a girl first.

  • A second child is permitted if the first one is handicapped

  • Families who are only children are allowed to have two children

CASE STUDY - MEDC's - The Problem of Ageing Populations in Western Europe

What are the main facts?

  • In the UK the proportion of people retired will grow from 20% in 2000 to 40% by 2040

  • In Italy the country spends 19% of its GNP on the pensioners who make up 18% of the population - In 2025 it is estimated that 25% will be pensioners and 33% of GNP will have to be spent on them

  • Pensioners are costing more money due to residential homes, health care, social services (home helps etc), increased long term illnesses such as Alzheimer's and they take up a lot more of a Doctor's financial budget & time

Problems Facing the Elderly

  • Many have to live alone - especially women

  • Most cannot afford the cost of residential homes and have to sell their homes to fund it

  • There are long waits for hospital care

  • Those in rural areas have problems getting around due to being too old to drive and few bus services

  • Those living in urban areas are fearful of crime

What are the possible solutions?

  • Increase the birth rate by encouraging families to have more children as in France

  • In a town in Italy each family is given 6000 per child

  • Raise the retirement age - In Italy it is now at 67 instead of 65.

  • Those who are in work can pay higher wages

  • Abolish state pensions and make all people provide for their own pensions

  • Increase the workforce by encouraging immigration from poorer countries

LINKS - Revision Video - Population Boom (China)

Common Questions

  • From an example you have studied explain the problems of an ageing population on the country

  • Using an example explain how rapid population growth has been controlled

  • How successful have the policies of a country been in trying to control its population