Geo Factsheet China

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Geo Factsheet
January 1997 Number 4
How Do Countries Achieve Optimum Populations?
Optimum population has been defined in a number of ways but commonly it involves the concept of an ideal population living and working
in a given area. The number of people in that area will be in close balance with the resources available. Such a definition implies that a
state of equilibrium will exist between population and resources. If the population is below the optimum population then the area will be
under-populated, whereas if numbers exceed the optimum population then the area can be said to be over-populated.
Exam Hint - The strongest candidates will
be expected to provide an accurate
Case study: China
definition of optimum population and to
provide evidence that they understand the Fig 1. China's Population
difficulties of making such a definition. 1950-2025
Equally important is the need to achieve a
balance between the two sides of the
optimum population equation - population 1,500
control and management of resources.
Optimum population is often described in
economic terms, commonly as the population 1,100
which, given available resources and skills in a
particular area, produces greatest GNP or Gross
National Product. The implication is that if the 900
population is either below or above the optimum
population, total GNP/income per capita/
standard of living would be lowered. This is an
over-simplistic measure since the crude size of a
population does not provide an accurate estimate 500
of its economic output. This can be dramatically 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2020 2030
affected by factors such as the age structure, sex
structure and educational level of the population. (year)
Equally, indices such as GNP may not provide
an accurate picture of the standard of living of
the entire population - high GNPs can hide large Between 1949 and 1990 China's population · Increased use of contraceptives and
sectors of a population which may not even have increased from 540 million to 1,134 million abortion.
the basic necessities of life. people and now has an annual increase of
14 million people. · Increased emphasis on the economic and
From an environmental perspective, it is clear health benefits of fewer children
that maximum economic output of any one Food production has been increased by:
renewable resource (e.g. minerals such as zinc, · Glory certificates given to couples with
copper, iron) or energy sources such as coal, oil · Pooling together of labour, land and one child increased financial rewards,
and gas, is unsustainable since, by definition, equipment into co-operatives and then access to jobs and educational benefits
such resources are finite. The process of communes. provided the family promised to have no
maximising economic output will result in further children. This one child per family
widespread environmental degradation. · Increasing mechanisation - increased use policy, introduced in 1979 aimed to
Interestingly, recent evidence has highlighted the of fertilisers and pesticides, introduction decrease national population growth to 0
fact that it is not the impending exhaustion of of high yielding varieties, better irrigation, by the year 2000, stabilising the population
non-renewable stock resources such as coal and greater use of multi-cropping. at 120 million.
oil which poses the greatest threat but the chronic
degradation of non-renewable flow resources such Population control has been acheived by: · In 1995 the Chinese Government
as air, water and soil which more seriously introduced a eugenics law under which
weakens the usefulness of this definition. Despite · Government advice and pressure, couples who wish to marry must undergo
these problems, many countries seem to have "Later, longer, fewer" referring to screening for certain genetic diseases,
accepted the concept of optimum population marriage, the interval between births and infectious diseases and mental disorders.
and have embarked upon population control the number of children respectively was Carriers of "inapproporiate" genes are only
methods - usually in order to reduce population vigorously communicated through the allowed to marry if they agree to
rather than increase it - in an effort to balance the co-operative and commune system. sterilisation or long-term contraception.
total population against the resources that are

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How Do Countries Achieve Optimum Populations? Geo Factsheet
Population Control The slogan "Development is the best contraceptive" has lost some of its impact; in many countries
such as Africa real increases in income per capita show no correlation with birth rates or the family's
Case Studies In Asia perceptions of ideal family size.…read more

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How Do Countries Achieve Optimum Populations? Geo Factsheet
Increasing The Supply Of decreased, even when taking inflation into
account, but this is precisely the opposite of Exam hint - students can usually gain
Other Resources what would have happened if such materials were credit for a detailed explanation of a very
small number of relevant case studies or
becoming scarcer. Effectively, humans have
Agricultural innovations since Malthus's time for a more superficial explanation of
increased the availability of such resources by: several.…read more


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