The Factors Affecting Fertility and Mortality

Population is all the inhabitants of one particular place and it is a key issue in the current world because the rise, fall or plateau in a population affects everyone within that place. There are three main components that change the population: fertility, mortality and migration. Births and deaths are labelled as what cause the natural increase or decrease in a population; however, migration is another reason why a population is constantly changing.

The population in LEDCs (Less Economically Developed Countries) are currently the highest and is still continuing to grow at present whereas the population in MEDCs (More Economically Developed Countries) is relatively high, but is gradually slowing to a steady rate.

Below are two population pyramids that show the population in an MEDC (UK) and an LEDC (Zimbabwe) and the number of males to females within each country in the year 2000:

The two population pyramids are typical representations of MEDCs and LEDCs and both are continuously changing. Firstly, the graphs show that most of the UK’s population is middle-aged whereas most of Zimbabwe’s population are young, between 0 and 19 years.

Why is this? There are many answers to explain this contrast but the emphasis is on fertility and mortality. There are social, economical and political factors that influence fertility and mortality and cause it to change.

Fertility is the number of births and the crude birth rate (CBR) is measured in per 1000 in the space of a year. One of the social reasons human fertility remains high in many countries, especially in LEDCs because cultural values influence parents to have children.

Most cultures favour family development so very religious cultures have high birth rates. However, some social customs discourage people having children for a number of reasons whereas others promote reproduction because of certain values.

Unsurprisingly, marital status is also an influential factor, especially amongst women; whether an individual is married affects fertility because of traditional beliefs. Also, a major element is education. It has been proved that there is an inverse correlation between low education levels and high birth rates. Perhaps this is due to a lack of knowledge about reproduction but it could also be that people with high level qualifications prefer to pursue a career to having children.

Also a significant reason for having children is the financial cost. A couple’s ability to fund a child and its needs is one of the main economic explanations for a high or low birth rate. The living expenses as well as other needs for children are usually very high, so individuals avoid having children. However, in LEDCs, children are a means of survival and without the extra help with bringing money in, many families cannot survive. Since most employment in LEDCs is primary industries such as farming, children are a necessity when it comes to earning enough money. This explains the high birth rate as well as a high infant mortality rate. Also, the economy influences fertility, for instance, in the years of the Depression, money was scarce and unemployment was high and there was a lower birth rate.

Finally, there are political factors that affect couples’ decisions to have children. A government’s Pro or Anti Natalist opinions affect the whole country such as in China, where families are only allowed to have one child by law because of the already overpopulated state. Whereas in WW2, Germany’s women were encouraged to have children with as many Aryan men as possible in order to create a ‘perfect race’. However, there are other reasons that do not fit into the categories of social, economic or political factors such as age. Greater fertility is heavily associated with a younger age, which justifies the lower fertility at an older age.

The crude death rate also measures deaths per 1000 per year in the total population. In terms of mortality, the categories or social and economical influences cannot be applied effectively because there are other components that affect it. For instance, morbidity is the measure of the occurrence of illness. In both MEDCs and LEDCs, different diseases and illnesses cause death. In MEDCs, degenerative diseases related to lifestyle are the main cause of deaths related to health such as cancers and heart attacks whereas people in LEDCs are much more likely to experience infectious diseases, such as Typhoid, causing high death and infant mortality.

This is known as the epidemiological transition, where causes of death move from infectious to degenerative diseases. Generally, there is a higher mortality because of the quality of life is lower in an LEDC. However, the development of medical services and health care in LEDCs has lowered the death rate considerably. There are political justifications for mortality such as war. Inevitably, there is a dramatic rise in death rates and a fall in birth rates after the war.

Overall, the factors affecting fertility and mortality can be social, economical and political but also others such as lifestyle and health. These undoubtedly alter the population in LEDCs and MEDCs in different ways. However, the economy and culture customs affect the population the most, in my opinion.

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