Unit 2 Module 1

POPULATION STUDIES 

Theories of Population

Thomas Malthus' theory of population is based upon two propositions:

  1. Unchecked population increases in a geometrical ratio
  2. Subsistence increases in an arithemetical ratio.

To Malthus, the 'natural law' principle operates to keep population growth in check. What does this mean? Natural law - is taken to be a basic principle of how nature works. In the case of population, Malthusian arguments postulate that population has the tendency to increase beyond nature's ability to support it (in terms of food & shelter).  Consequently, Malthus contends that natural law in human population helps to keep it in check through two methods:

  1. Fertility control (this may be involuntary due to fertility complications, or voluntary, through the use of moral restraint, postponement of marriage, (or the contemporary use of family planning methods).
  2. Positive checks - this refer to phenomena that would increase mortality, eg. natural disasters, high risk jobs, diseases etc...

Altogether, Malthus believed that poverty, famine, disease are all elements of natural law attempting to bring balance between population growth and subsistence levels.

 

Marxian Theory of Population -  Marx and Engels disagreed with Malthus' theory of population. Marx believed that:
1. Malthus'theory was devised to justify and perpetuate inequality in society.
2. They also beleived that the poor/disadvantaged groups were essentially the reserve army of labour, which helps to ensure capital accumalation to the ruling class.

To Marx,the fact of poverty, is in reality the result of exploitation of the owners of the technology to produce, who simultaneously hold vast reserves of capital in the form of land, property all of which gives them political power.

Marx contends that the law of capital accumalation i.e. the accumulation of surplus value in the hands of the capitalist class leads to the poverty of the population that constitutes the source of the surplus value. "Capital accumulation unavoidably leads to the unemployment of a sector of the available labour force"(Gimenez).

Demographic Transition Theory:

This refer to the changes in population over time. This theory emphasizes the stages in the development of poulation. The tranisition in population vary from society to society.
The classical demographic transition theory identifies four stages:


Stage 1 : The High Stationary
In this stage birth and death rates are high.
Population growth is low
Life expectancy is low
Reasons for these changes - Lack of family planning,influence of religion on daily life

Stage 2 : Early Expanding
High birth and rapidly declining death rates.
Reasons for these changes - Lack of family planning,influence of religion on daily life
Modern day examples of countries in this stage includes - India, Kenya and Egypt

Stage 3 : Late Expanding
Continued declie in birth rates
Death rates continue at a constant low rate
Reasons for these changes - Improved medical/health care, lowering infant/child mortality rates,healthy diets
Modern day examples of countries in this stage includes - Brazil

Stage 4 : Low Stationary
Both birth and death rates are low
Occassioanlly there may be fluctutions with one being sightly higher than the other
Reasons for these changes - Good health care, later marriages, improvement in women's status
Modern day examples of countries in this stage includes - Japan, France, UK

Stage 5: Declining
Birth rates are low
Death rates are very low
Slow decrease in population
There may also be the tendency for depopulation to occur.
Reasons for these changes - Good health care, later marriages, improvement in women's status