Population dynamics: Sustainable populations

Many countries face issues when it comes to population and matching supply with demand. In order to comply with changes within a population, countries develop policies and systems whilst also coming up with innovative ideas to maintain quality living spaces.

A prime example of population dynamics is China and the famous One-Child Policy. This policy is applied as a result of an overflowing population which outgrows the resources available and poses serious stress on the state. The One-Child policy aims to alleviate this by allowing every couple to only give birth to a single child and thus halving the population in every household over the generations. Issues do arise from this however, for example it stimulates a rise in selective childbirth. Boys are thought to be the economic force ofChinaand can also help parents in their old age. Therefore, boys are preferred, and this leads to increased amounts of female infanticide, killing female babies to make sure that the parents had a boy. Abortions are also carried out more often with the use of ultrasounds to avoid parents having a female baby.

Due to a greater amount of abortions occurring in the country, the Chinese government decided to make the practice illegal, but it still continues. As a result of the One-Child policy there is now a noticeable gender imbalance in the country. Government incentives, such as tax rebates and bonuses, were also introduced to encourage bigger and smaller families depending on whether the population was too great or too small for the resources available in areas of the country.

In Singapore, similar proposals were made in order to deal with population dynamics. A ‘Stop at two’ policy was introduced to control rapid population growth but had to be altered due to too great a success with the policy – the population was starting to decline. This occurred as a result of families realising the benefits of smaller families such as more money available in the family which leads to a higher quality of living. Women were also beginning to diverge from the conventional ideologies of what a woman has to do and hence, started to pursue careers rather than sit at home all day. The government responded to a decrease in population levels with a ‘three or more, if you can afford it’ slogan and policy to address the social side of the issue. The main aims of the new policy were to deal with an ageing populace and rejuvenate the whole population. Incentives that the Singaporean government introduced to promote childbirths included a rebate of $20,000 for a fourth child and more for additional children – easing the stress and strain that families, especially younger ones, would face in terms of the financial burden and as a result they would be more confident and likely to have a greater number of children.

On the whole, governments are able to deal with changing populations with the use of various policies and propaganda. When looked at more closely however, the effectiveness of all these are dependant on the susceptibility, mindset and cultures of a country. As well as immigration affecting population numbers, which can be dealt with quotas and barriers, migrants in a country can affect population dynamics on a regional scale within a country which follows a similar structure to that of which is on a national scale.

Contributed by V Mankaleswaran