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The impact of urbanisation, emancipation of women, agricultural changes and education on population growth

Factors affecting populations by rgamesby
Populations are affected by many factors, the main natural ones being birth rates and death rates which affect the level of natural change (increase or decrease) within the population.  However, a country's population
does not exist in isolation in today's globalised world and are now also massively impacted by Immigration (Into a country) and Emigration (where people Exit a country).

Other factors that affect the change in a population's growth include the impact of urbanisation, emancipation of women, agricultural changes and education.

Urbanisation.
Rural to urban migration happened in the past centuries in richer nations and is happening today in poorer nations.  It has a significant impact upon population growth because it can impact upon the birth and death rates of a country.  As a country becomes increasingly urbanised the birth rate tends to rise and  death rates tend to fall.
The birth rates rise because people have more access to medical care in cities than in rural areas thus infant mortality falls and birth rate rises. This is a short term change, as development occurs over longer periods of time in the urban area birth rates can fall as it is then easier to deliver family planning. Death rates fall in urban areas because it is cheaper and more economic to provide medical and education services, and to ensure more reliable food supplies.  This means that people get more educated, better fed and can be treated when sick.  This is often not the case in more remote rural areas so death rates fall in urban areas.  The net effect of this is population growth.

Agricultural change
Agricultural changes have been massive over the past 400 years and we can produce more food than ever before now.  Many of these agricultural changes even at a low level free up workers from the farms.  This allows industrialisation which needs lots of workers and tends to promote high birth rates.  The more regular supply of food from advanced farming also promotes birth rates (as people are sure they can feed their children) and reduces famine deaths.

Education
Education plays a vital role in  determining the levels of both birth and death rates in a country and hence the level of population growth.  Simple programs in hygiene can impact upon death rates, while family planning education can reduce birth rates.  Following World War 1 when many European countries had suffered massive losses in their populations, many governments switched population education to promoting MORE births!   In the longer term, as education levels increase people tend to have fewer children so that they can focus their resources in improving the life chances of those few children.

Emancipation of women
In many rich countries women have become over time free to work when they want within their life.  This is not the case in all countries in the world where many women are stuck in gender specific unpaid (and often very hard) work such as maintaining a household and subsistence farming plots.  Many events in the UK have contributed to the increasing equality of women including women gaining the right to vote and the valuable (traditionally viewed as male work) women did in factories in the UK during the 2 World Wars. This EMANCIPATION of women has had a demographic consequence in that it has delayed child bearing age.  Women are much more likely now to go to university and work for a few years before having their first child.  This can result in fewer children being born per woman as fertility declines with age for women. In 2002 the average age for first births was 29 years, three years older than in 1971.


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