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Analysis of the Demographics in Europe

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Published: Tue, 27 Feb 2018

The Demographic Sector in Europe

This dissertation will present a historical overview of European population trends before examining in greater detail specific causes and effects of certain demographic changes. In particular, demographic changes which occurred in the UK between 1950 and 1990 and the economic consequences associated with reforms in Eastern Europe will be examined with a view to assessing the possible welfare implications. Environmental stress is increasing, due to both “unsustainable consumption and production patterns” (including high resource consumption in wealthy countries and among better-off groups in all countries) and demographic factors such as rapid population growth, population distribution and migration. 1.1 Historical Overview

In a European context, the population was never more than 100,000. This represented a far lower carrying capacity than gorillas, as humans were carnivores (Emceed and Jones, 1978). Human population began to spread as the Ice Age started to retreat (25,000 – 10,000 B.C.). Migrations took place into the Ar tic Circle, across the Bering Straits, and also to Australia via Indonesian archipelago.

The human population in 10,000 BC was probably double what it was in 100,000 BC (earliest appearance of homo sapiens) – standing at approximately 4 million. The increase had been achieved by increasing range and opening up new territories -not by new food technologies. Population density was thus traditionally low. This was to change with the switch from traditional food (hunter)gatherer to food production (Old Stone Age – paleolithic 30,000 BC -to New Stone Age – neolithic 6,000 BC) and as a consequence, population density increased from 0.1 km2 to 1 per km2.

In the period from 1000BC – 400 BC the world’s population doubled from10m to 20m. Greece’s population however, tripled to 3m. Greece’population growth meant that they were able to forge a new civilisation and become the dominant force. Malthusian claims that uncontrolled population growth can potentially lead to population decline as result of increased competition for resources, war, famine and poverty,were somewhat realized through the Asia Minor conquest and an eventual decline in the Greek population to approximately 2million by 1 AD.

The population of Italy was the next major European country to experience major growth. By 300 BC the population of Italy numbered 4million people. By 1 AD this had risen to 7 million whilst the total European population was only 31 million. By 200 AD the Roman Empire had 46 million subjects including approximately 78% of this total in Europe. This peak declined to 26 million in total during the following400 years. This obviously leads to the question whether or not economic/ political / military development is a precursor to, or consequence of population development. In Greece the malthusian limits were reached which resulted in out-migration / foreign conquests. Consequently the population of Greece fell between 300 B.C. and A.D. 1, to 2 million .Population density also fell four-fold. 

From the 8th century onwards there was a new increase in population,leading to a population level of approximately 36 million by 1000 A.D.,which compares to peak figures from the classical period. Population then continued to increase rapidly for nearly 300 years. By and large,increases were in the north and west, but there were also increases from the east (e.g. Portugal). The population in these regions were,however, relatively low to begin with. The continued population increase was brought to an abrupt halt in 1347 by bubonic plague -Black Death. Increases in mortality and reductions in nutrition had tremendous impact on the world’s population. Between a quarter and third of the population were to perish during this period. There was however, eventually a general recovery and by 1500 the world population was nearing 80 million, increasing to 100 million by 1600.

Despite Religious wars, plague and economic upheaval which changed the political scene during the 17th Century, population rose to around 120million by 1700. Economic factors were vital in assuring continued population growth and were symbolized by better technology, sea route sand growing towns. The period 1750 – 1845 was marked by one of major growth. During this period the population level rose from 140 million in 1750 to 250 million in 1845. Mortality changed definitively resulting in growth being assured unless and until fertility fell. The modernisation and urbanisation cycle had begun with famine and plague seemingly belonging to the past, although there was an extreme exception – Ireland. Despite this, Europe’s population reached 450million by 1914. Population in the 20th Century was to be ravaged by both war (WWI and WWII) and mass emigration to the USA, Canada and Latin America.

2. Main demographic trends in the UK post WWII

Between 1951 and 1981, the total population of the UK increased from50.4million to 55.9million. The total number of births rose steadily from c.800,000 in 1950 to a peak of over one million (1,015,000) in1964. This was the so-called “baby boom” of the 1950s and early 1960s. In 1964 the crude birth rate of the UK stood at an all time high of18.8 per 1000. In 1963 the oral contraceptive pill first became available to women, and in 1968 the Abortion Act legalised abortion in certain circumstances.

The combination of these two factors, especially the former, initiated a down-turn in birth rate which continued for 13 years until 1977 when the number of live births was 657,000 to give ac rude birth rate of 11.8 per 1000. For two years, 1976 and 1977, the number of births was actually less than the number of deaths and the country briefly experienced a natural decrease of population .Subsequently, during the 1980s, the number of births rose to about700,000 per year to give a crude birth rate of about 13 per 1000. This slight up-turn in birth rate has been explained as a result of couples postponing the start of a family. Between 1965 and 1985 the average age of mothers having their first child increased from 21 to 27 years of age.

Mortality in the UK since 1950 has been subject to far less fluctuation than fertility during the same period. The total number of deaths in the UK each year since 1950 has been between 600,000 and 700,000. Crude death rates during a period of 40 years have stubbornly remained within the range of 11 to 13 per 1000. This is significantly higher than the crude mortality rate of most other countries of North West Europe. The causes of death have shown little change over the period with diseases of the circulatory system and cancer firmly established as the main killing diseases and jointly accounting for over 70% of all deaths by the 1980s.

The failure of the UK to reduce its mortality rate during the second half of the 20th century has been attributed to various factors; namely, declining standards of health care, the maintenance sofa large stock of obsolete slum housing, high unemployment rates and high levels of poverty and deprivation. In the late-1980s, infant mortality rates, probably the most sensitive indicator of the quality of the social and physical environment for human life, actually rose in many parts of the country.

Detailed statistics for the numbers of migrants entering and leaving the UK only extend back as far as 1964. Comprehensive statistics for the numbers of immigrants and emigrants are not available for the period of the 1950s and early-1960s when large numbers of West Indian sand Asians entered the UK. Post-1964 statistics reveal considerable short-term fluctuations in the numbers of both immigrants and emigrants. However, with the exception of just one or two years, the net migration balance is a negative one; that is to say, in most years more people leave than enter the UK. Despite the popular myths about the flood of immigrants entering the UK, the reality is that the UK Lisa net “exporter” of population in most years.

Since the early 1960s,the numbers entering the UK have been checked and reduced by succession of Immigration Acts (1962, 1968, 1972 etc) designed to make the conditions of entry more demanding and settlement in the UK more difficult. The long-term trend for immigration and emigration appear to be related to “push” factors in the source areas rather than “pull”factors in the destination area. Thus, peaks of immigration appear to be related to particular overseas events. For example, the expulsion of Asians from Uganda by President Am in in 1972 corresponds with a minor peak in the flow of immigrants into the UK. Conversely, the rising tide of unemployment in the UK during the early-1980s corresponds with as harp up-turn in the numbers leaving the country between 1981 and 1985.

One of the most obvious demographic changes in post-war Britain has been its transformation into a multi-racial and multi-cultural society.rior to 1991, the UK Census did not include questions on race and ethnicity, so that it was impossible to obtain precise information about the size and distribution of minority groups. However,“place-of-birth” statistics derived from the census show that by 1981about six percent of the UK population was “overseas-born”. The total percentage of overseas-born population is not large, but it is very unevenly distributed. Racial and ethnic minorities tend to cluster in the inner city districts of particular towns and cities. Discrimination in the fields of housing and employment produced tensions and unrest which finally erupted in urban riots in 1981 and again in 1985.

3. Post-war political economy

The year 1989 heralded a great change within Eastern Europe, as revolutions throughout the region swept away the communist governments,marking an end to conditions of political, economic and social repression. The major impetus in precipitating change was the desire for freedom on the part of the masses. Allied to this demand for social freedom was a general will for improved standards of living conditions,with the belief of the majority being that this could be achieved through the reorganisation of society along the lines of western-style free market economies.

There was certainly a need for substantial economic reform within Eastern Europe in terms of “freeing up” the market economy and the need for some type of transformation strategy. However, a great deal of debate is concerned not with the actual need for transformation, but with the actual method of transformation. One can best define the argument in terms of the proponents of a gradualist approach to transformation. There are a number of economists who favour a radical approach to transformation, arguing the necessity for speed,comprehensiveness and simultaneity of change, who have been accused by other economists of stressing an over reliance on the market, and of failing to fully understand the nature of market economies. To explore the debate fully it is necessary for one to consider the claims of those economists that are in favour or the radical approach to transformation.

“Both economic logic and the political situation argue for a rapid and comprehensive process of transformation” (Lipton and Sacs, 1990). This quote is from two of the main advocates of the radical approach. They emphasise the speed and comprehensiveness of change within Eastern Europe, believing that there should be a seamless web of transition.The first stage, they claim, should be achieving a macroeconomic stability: “structural reforms cannot be put in place without a working price system; a working price system cannot be put into place without ending excess demand and creating a convertible currency; and a credit squeeze and tight macroeconomic policy cannot be sustained unless prices are realistic, so that there is a rational basis for deciding which firms should be allowed to close.” Thus as crucial to their arguments for a comprehensive reform process is the need for real structural adjustment, and for this macroeconomic shock to be accompanied by a number of associated measures such as selling off state assets, freeing up the private sector, establishing procedures for bankruptcy, the preparation of a social security net and widespread tax reforms.

Advocates of shock therapy transformation use a number of political reasons for their emphasis upon rapidity. Perhaps the most important of the political reasons is that the new governments would be best able to carry out strong measures at the outset of their office, and thus deny opponents the chance to subvert the process of change and retain some of the irrationalities of the old style regime. A further argument in favour of the shock therapy transformation is that there is a view of the market as being an institutional package, that it is an integrated and “organic” whole, the elements of which cannot be introduced one Bata time and in a gradual fashion. Thus certain economists have argued that the only way for the market system to function is if all of it score institutions are introduced simultaneously, with the core institutions being a legal infrastructure, private property, free markets and prices, competition, and macroeconomic policy instruments.

However, the shock therapy approach to economic transformation has benignities by a number of economists. Although by common consensus is a definite necessity for change the shock therapy approach presents us with a number of difficulties. Perhaps the greatest problem concerns the nature of markets, for there is little knowledge of how tactually establish a market system. The situation in Eastern Europe is most certainly unique, for never before have there been attempts to establish a market economies from the wreckage of the communist system,since historically the development of free markets went hand in hand with the process of industrialisation. “Post – communist countries,however, do have a more or less developed industrial infrastructure,social services and political expectations to be governed in some sort of western democratic fashion. In short, our knowledge does not extend to the conditions under which Soviet type economies have to be reformed” (Pick el, 1992).

Andreas Pick el identified a number of criticisms of the shock therapy. The emphasis placed upon comprehensive change stresses the need for the creation of a “critical minimum mass of market institutions” necessary for the function of the market economy. Picketer that at best we have only sketchy knowledge of what this“critical minimum mass” is, and that claims as to the necessity for comprehensive change ignore the complex realities of the situation.Take for example, what Perry in his list of measures with respect to the creation of “free markets with free prices: there must be free entry into the market and free exit from it. This mans that there are no barriers to entering market transactions, that workers and manager scan be fired, and that unprofitable firms go bankrupt. There is not as ingle existing market economy that fulfils this requirement” (Pick el,1992). Therefore how can we hope to ascertain what is necessary for the wholesale importation of the market economy.

The justification for speed on the part of the shock therapists owe sits origins to a conception of two clearly defined and opposite systems, those of socialism and capitalism. Speed is necessary in the transformation because plan and market institutions are said to be incompatible, that the new system will work badly or not at all as lon gas it contains too many elements of the old system.

Pick el argues that this is merely another way of invoking the “critical mass” argument again. “Granted that the quick establishment of essential institutions crucial for the success of reforms, at which point is it possible to slow this down in order to reduce, for example, some of the social costs of transformation, or to consider alternative options” (Pick el,1992). As with the “critical mass” argument we have little way of determining how quickly or for how long should the process be continued with pace.

The necessity for simultaneity, as emphasized by the proponents of the shock approach, is criticised by Pickle as revealing problems with the radicals’ conception of economics as “systems”. Pick el mentions’s statement that “the need for simultaneous action on the institutional front arises from the holistic nature of systems, their essentially integrated order”. Pick el then attacks this stance,claiming that the “market system” only exists in textbooks, that there are as many institutional configurations as there are actually existing market economies.

Essentially, claims as to the necessary institution sand processes are somewhat speculative, for when one considers today’market economies one can see that there have been numerous stages of growth, development and mutation. Virtually none of the modern market economies have developed along the lines of simultaneous establishment of core institutions as prescribed by the shock therapist theorists,suggesting it is indeed possible for transition to the market to be accomplished in disjointed and incoherent ways.

It is most certainly possible for one to claim that economists who emphasise the speed, immediacy, and comprehensiveness of reforms in Eastern Europe, both overestimate the properties of the market and misunderstand the nature of market economies. It is important for one to bear in mind that the major difficulty that exists in the attempts to undergo the radical transition process as prescribed by the shock therapists is that the “wholesale institutional transformation produces range of unintended consequences that will undermine the realisation of the original goal” (Pick el, 1992). To this end Pick el uses the example of East Germany in order to illustrate the “ideal empirical test case for the strengths and weaknesses of the radical strategy.

Pick el begins by claiming that the two treaties between the FRG and the GDR, on monetary, economic and social union and on unification, created what proponents of the shock therapy deem essential – “the speedy creation of what are considered to be the essential practical and economic institutions and the rules of capitalist democracy” (Picked,1992). Pick el claims that the radical shock therapy approach in East Germany created a number of unforeseen consequences which possessed implications for the future development of the country. The first of these consequences was the collapse of the state sector, resulting in massive unemployment and serious problems in the existing private sector, something which is still affecting Germany’s economy.

The second consequence was that the restitution of pre-communist property rights and titles, which produced hundreds of thousands of claims and created an uncertain atmosphere for investors. The third unforeseen consequence was that there was an uninterrupted migration of workers from east to west and the fourth was the so cio-psychological and political disembowelment of large sectors of the East German population, that is, the colonisation or creation of a de facto group of second class citizens.

The argument here is that the radical strategy in Germany failed in crucial respects. Rather than create the conditions necessary for sustained economic development, the radical approach led to the occurrence of a number of unforeseen circumstances that led to the collapse of the East German economy, creating lasting structural damage. Pick el claims that since the radical shock theory approach was attempted under rather favourable conditions in East Germany it generates a significant amount of concern for other countries where the conditions are not so favourable.

4. Sustainable development

Population growth and distribution have significant roles to play in the sustainability of the world’s vast resources. Not only the number of people, but also the lifestyle, consumption patterns, and regions people inhabit and use directly affect the environment. The relationship between population growth and environmental degradation may appear to be rather straightforward. More people demand more resources and generate more waste. Clearly one of the challenges of growing population is that the mere presence of so many people sharing limited number of resources strains the environment. But when looking at the impact of human activities, the situation is more complicated due to the wide variety of government policies, technologies, and consumption patterns worldwide.

The link between population growth and the environment is found somewhere between the view that population growth is solely responsible for all environmental ills and the view that more people means the development of new technologies to overcome any environmental problems. Most environmentalists agree that population growth is only one of several interacting factors that place pressure on the environment.High levels of consumption and industrialization, inequality in wealth and land distribution, inappropriate government policies, poverty, and inefficient technologies all contribute to environmental decline. Infarct, population may not be a root cause in environmental decline, but rather just one factor among many that exacerbate or multiply the negative effects of other social, economic, and political factors.

Bio diversity is a term applied to describe the complexity of life. It is generally measured at three levels: the variety of species; the genetic diversity found within members of the same species (what makes you different from your neighbour); and the diversity of the ecosystems within which species live. These three levels are intimately connected. Genetic diversity is essential to the prosperity of the species, giving it the resources to adapt. And the number of species within an ecosystem is closely tied to the health and size of the ecosystem://www.ourplanet.com/aaa’s/pages/bio01.html – # (Rosen,1999).

However it is defined, bio diversity is the stuff of life. However far we may be removed from “wild” bio diversity in our daily lives, it remains the source of our food and most of our medicines. In addition,15 percent of our energy is derived from burning plant materials. Evening the United States, wild species contribute around 4.5 percent of GDP(De Leo and Levin, 1997).

Some of our uses are direct. Billions of people still harvest wild or”bush” food around the world. Between a fifth and a half of all food consumed by the poor in the developing world is gathered rather than cultivated, while at global level we obtain 16 percent of our animal protein from sea fish caught in the wild. The World Health Organization(WHO) estimates that more than 60 percent of the world’s population relies on traditional plant medicines for day-to-day primary healthcare ( Bali ck and Cox, 1996), and 3 000 plant species are used in birth control alone (My ers, 1979).

The primary cause of this loss is not hunting or overexploitation,though these play a part, but loss of natural habitat. Habitat loss is generally greatest where population density is highest. A study nobodies data from 102 countries found that in the most densely populated 51 countries (averaging 168 people per square kilo meter), 5.1percent of bird species and 3.7 percent of plant species were threatened. In the 51 less densely populated countries (averaging 22people per square kilo meter), the proportions of threatened species were only half as high at 2.7 percent and 1.8 percent respectively(UNFPA, 1997).

5. Political and socioeconomic geography of Europe

The Second World War was a catastrophe in terms of the huge loss of life and indeed by this very fact it can bee seen as an important watershed in the development of Europe. The economic and social development of Europe was severely dislocated and fractured .Industrialisation trends were re orientated to serve the demands of the war machine. Most areas of Europe by the close of the war were facing the same problem, that of reconstruction. The war created the conditions which were conducive for the progressive restructuring of social institutions.

The experience of war seemed to demonstrate that central governments could control economic development and most European nations introduced some form of economic planning in the postwar period. The working classes began to have a representative with the emergence of legitimate parties participating in the political process. There was a shift in governmental policy to welfare state policies with post-war Europe recognizing the need to integrate the working classes into political life.

There were several factors contributing to the restructuring of Europe and these are important when examining any increase in the welfare of Europe’s population since the Second World War. At the end of the war Europe was divided into the capitalist West and the communist East.This resulted in differential economic and social growth as well as obvious differences in political ideology.

The capitalist West benefited from substantial America Aid under the Marshal Plan. Rapid industrial development was favoured in Europe to counter the perceived threat from the East, but also important was the fact that America emerged from the war with expanded industries which were also more efficient and therefore they needed trading partners and investment opportunities. The Soviet Union however, were not as fortunate and suffered heavily from the destruction inflicted upon its people,agriculture and industry, all of which needed to be recreated.

The war provided for opportunities of peacetime recovery and prosperity. It had forced and even closer union of science and technology and in the new world it seemed that all problems could be solved through the development and application of new technologies .Damaged production could be replaced by new equipment, raising efficiency and stimulating capital goods industries. The war itself had provided the impetus behind scientific and technological development,which would prove to be the key behind future European development.

The great hardships of the 1930’s encouraged the view that national governments had a responsibility to protect and enhance the quality of life through improved systems of social security, health care and education. And it was improvements in these areas of welfare that the population of Europe has, more or less, been a benefactor. Birth rate shave declined in most European countries, whilst in Northwest Europe it was close to, or even below, the replacement levels by the early 1980s.Marriage rates also declined following a relative peak after the war.The lowest levels are again in Northwest Europe, particularly Sweden,whilst Eastern Europe displays the highest inutility rates. The cause for declining birth rates is complex.

Women’s rates have changed, there has been increased urbanisation leading to a reduced need for farm labour, increased opportunities for higher education, declining influence of the Church. Of great significance in explaining a decrease in birth rates, and itself an indicator of social welfare, is the infant mortality rate. Infant mortality has been significantly reduced since the second world war. In france in 1950, the infant mortality rate was 52 per 1000 deaths before the age of 1 year old. By 1970 this had been reduced to 18 per 100. Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands all had the lowest rates whilst Romania, Portugal and Yugoslavia suffered from the highest rates of infant mortality.

In Europe, life expectancy is at its highest levels in history, with the average life expectancy being 75 years for someone in Western Europe and 72 in Eastern Europe. Death rates have decreased in virtually every European country since the Second World War due to improvements in medicine and medical care, sanitation, health provisions and technology. Demographic changes led to increasing proportions of the young and old dominating population structures. The welfare state had to respond accordingly with more emphasis having to be placed upon areas such as housing, education, child support,retirement and pensions. With increasing prosperity after the war,Europeans standard of living significantly improved and this move toward modernity employed classical demographic features involved in the process of modernisation.

Several Western European countries experienced decolonisation and reparation of their expatriates and natives of former colonial areas.In Algeria 600,000 people “returned” to France in 1962 following independence. The boom of the 1960s resulted in some countries needing to attract migrant labour. Indian, North Africans, Spanish, Portuguese,Italians, Yugoslavs, Greeks and Turks all poured into the Northern and Western urban and industrial centres of Europe. Migrant workers were more numerate in the Low countries and exceptionally high in Switzerland, where, in 1974, 37 per cent of the workforce were foreigners. In 1982 there were 4.2 million foreigners working in France – every 10th worker in France was non-French. In Germany there were 4.6 million non-Germans, of which Turkish, Italian and Yugoslav workers were the most dominant. These immigrant workers constitute a form of sub-proletariat, taking the jobs natives did’t want to do. They were(and are) often badly treated and denied political rights. They usually find themselves in ghettos, and in times of economic downturn find themselves the targets of racial abuse.

Urbanisation was a major feature of postwar European society and was in essence a continuation of a nineteenth century trend. By 1975 most Europeans lived in cities – one-third of the Greek population lived in Athens. City growth was primarily the result of rural to urban migration, with such incentives as higher wages, better housing,attractive employment, educational opportunities and more access to recreation and entertainment. Urbanisation, particularly if it is coupled with high levels of immigrants can soon lead to overcrowded housing and poor sanitation.

With huge increases in car ownership and the amount of automobiles on the road together with the location of industries in, or on the periphery of, cities, some major urban and industrial centres of Europe have become unpleasant areas in which to live. The subsidised housing which were created for the working classes under the social security provisions of the welfare state were often poor quality and consisted of high-rise buildings located in peripheral areas of the city.

The HLM in France and estates on the north-side of Dublin, such as the Allah and Bally are examples of this type of housing. It is evident in such areas that the great disparities in income or certain social disadvantages were not dealt with despite some improvements in health-care, family allowances, education and other social services. Severe social problems face people caught in the poverty cycle in these areas and, consequently, with such levels of despair, the rates for drug abuse, crime and deviancy are relatively high.

The decline of the agricultural sector of the economy and the loss of farm populations was another major feature of post-war Europe. This transition was to be expected as the workforce moved toward an industrially-based economy and later increasingly dominated by the tertiary sector. In 1950 80 per cent of the workforce in Bulgaria was engaged in agriculture. By 1980 this figure had declined to 20 percent.

This trend can be seen in several other countries, for example46% of the population in Eire were engaged in agriculture in 1949 but had reduced to 20% of the population by 1979. Spain exhibited a similar trend with 52% of the population engaged in agriculture in 1940 but by1979 this had been reduced to 20% of the population. This trend had the greatest impact on peripheral European countries industrialising after the Second World War. Technological innovations had made agriculture more intensive and mechanised. This initiated mass migration to urban areas, and also was to result in increasin


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