AS Geography Population Case Studies

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Pro Natalist Country


Pro Natalist Policy - A policy which aims to encourage more births through the use of incentives.

In most developed countries, the decline in fertility and the increase in life length has raised three concerns:

  • decrease in the supply of labour
  • The socioeconomic implications of a population ageing
  • The long term prospect of population decline and demise.
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The Policy

In 1920 and 1923, laws were passed banning abortion and contraception.

In 1939 the French introduced the "Code de la Famille", a complex piece of pro natalist legislation. The pro natalist methods in the policy included:

  • Offering cash incentives to mothers who stayed home to care for their children.
  • Subsiding holidays.
  • Banning the sale of contraceptives (repealed in 1967).

In 1940 the Ministry of Population introduced the death penalty for back street abortions.

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Why was the policy introduced?

France has had a problem with its birth rate since the middle of the 18th century. France experienced a period of population stagnation caused by low levels of fertility (desire to limit inheritance to fewer children, late marraige, high levels of celibacy) and higher than average levels of infant mortality (due to poor sanitation, nutrition and health care). This low level of fertility continued into the 20th century and was furthered by such events as World War 1 and World War 2, and the influenza epidemic of 1919.

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Incentives offered in the policy included:

  • Payment of up to £1064 to couples having their 3rd child.
  • Generous maternity grants.
  • Family allowances to increase the purchasing power of 3 child families.
  • 100% morgage and preferential treatment in the allocation of three bedroom council flats.
  • Full tax benefits to parents until their youngest child reaches 18.
  • 30% fare reduction on all public transport for three child families.
  • Pension schemes for mothers/housewives.
  • Child-orientated development policies eg. provisioning of creches, day nurseries etc.
  • Depending on the family's income, childcare costs from virtually nothing to around €500 a month for the most well off families.
  • Nursing mothers are encouraged to work part time or take a weekly day off work.
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How effective was the policy?

It didn't really work until the mid 1940's, and between 1943 and 1965 France experienced its desired baby boom. Between those years the number of births (14 million) exceeded the number of deaths (9 million).

In 1967, contraception was legalised.

In 1975, abortion was legalised.

With 2.01 children per woman in 2014, France has one of the highest fertility rates in Europe, ranking just behind Ireland. France therefore stands out from the rest of the EU, where the average fertility rate is approximately 1.6 children per woman.

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Anti Natalist Country


Anti Natalist Policy - A policy which aims to slow down the population by attempting to limit the number of births.

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Reasons for the policy

Reasons for the policy

1.  To combat a population explosion -

There was imbalances between population and available resources. China's has 7% of the world's agricultural land and 23% of the world's population.

2.  To encourage economic development - 

Improving the standard of living for the population.

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  • 1953 - First modern cencus takes place in China. The population comes in at 583 million.
  • Between 1953 and 1964 the population increased by 112 million as Mao Zedong encouraged larger families in an attempt to make China stronger.
  • Attempts to slow down population growth started in the 1970's using the "Later, longer, fewer" policy. 

1.  Late marraige - men were encouraged to marry no earlier than 28 years old (25 in rural areas) and women no earlier than 25 years old (23 in rural areas).

2.  Longer spacing between births - couples were encouraged to allow at least a four year gap between their first and second child.

3.  It was suggested that urban families should be limited to two children, and rural families to three children.

  • 1979 - One Child Policy introduced.
  • 2010 - Population = 1.335 billion.
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Why was it introduced?

Mao, the ruler of China between 1950 and 1959, said that "the more people, the stronger we are" and "a large population gives a strong nation". This resulted in China becoming overpopulated and its resources seriously stretched. This led to famine in 1959 where 20 million people died. During the 1960s the growth rate averaged at 2.4%.

In 1978Deng Xiaoping became ruler and he had a very different view on population to Mao. He wanted to focus on strengthening the economy and saw overpopulation as a roadblock to economic development and so introduced the 'One Child Policy' in 1979. At this time China's population was approximately 970 million. The goal was to limit Chinas population to 1.2 billion by 2002.

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How it worked

  • Law introduced to limit the number of births applied to the Han majority (90% of the population) but not ethnic minorities.
  • Cash bonusesimproved housing and free education and medical care was rewarded if couples limit themselves to one child.
  • Free birth control and family planning advice.
  • Age limits and certificates for marraige needed - sex outside of marraige was illegal in China until 1997.
  • Anyone housing more than one child lost benefits and faced financial penalties (generally 3 times their salary).
  • Pressure is put on women to use contraception and forced abortions and sterilizations are reported to have occured.
  • The 'Granny Police' are used to male sure  people use contraception and to report on pregnancies.
  • Those who abide by this rule are rewarded with promotions and preferences for education and housing
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1.  Demographic Structure - 

  • Future ageing population and high dependency ratios.
  • Shortage of economically active age groups.

2.  Gender Structure - 

  • Ratio of 117 males for every 100 females among babies from birth through children of four years of age. Normally, 105 males are born for every 100 females.
  • By 2020, an estimated 30 million men will be unable to find a wife and have a child earning them the title "Bare branches".

3.  Civil Unrest - 

  • Opposition in rural areas, where stronger requirements for sons to work in fieldscontinue the family name and look after parents in their old age, exist.
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  • Reports of gender selective abortionshidden childrenabandoned girls and, in rare cases, female infanticide.

4.  Civil Liberties and Human Rights - 

  • Women pregnant for a second time often coerced into having an abortion or sterilisation particularly during the early years of the policy.
  • "Granny Police" were recruited in settlements to spy on people in their community who might be trying to keep pregnancy secret.
  • The One Child Policy has been criticised by human rights activists as they say the policy is against human rights.
  • Chinese demographers argue that the transition to market economy, rather than family planning, is the main reason for the rapid drop in Chinese fertility over the last 30 years.

5.  Little Emperor Syndrome - 

  • Indulged and closeted boys who are often arrogant and lacking in social skills.
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  • This reduction in population size has helped to recude the strains on social servicesnatural resources and reduced the scale of the problems that provoked slums and epidemics.
  • Total fertility rate has declined from 6.2 in 1950 to 1.6 in 2009, which is below replacement level. The rate of natural increase has declined to 0.5% from 2.2% in the 1970s.
  • The policy has met the most success amongst urban populations. It has been less successful in rural areas where families have continued to have 2 or 3 children.
  • It is estimated that without the policy there would have been an extra 400 million Chinese people born between 1970 and 2009.
  • The reduction in rate of population growth during the 1990s was accompanied by a noticeable rise in GNP.
  • Greater equality for women as status is enhanced. Women are offered more opportunities for gaining greater knowledge.
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Recent Changes

In 2015, China ended the One Child Policy, allowing all married couples to have two children. Abolishing the policy would "increase labour supply and ease pressures from an ageing population. It will also benefit sustained and healthy economic development", the National Health and Family Planning Commission, which enforces the policy said.

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Ageing Population


Like most wealthy and developed countries, the population of the UK is ageing (it’s a greying population) – people over 65 make up a large part of the population and it’s increasing. In 2005, 16% of the population of the UK were over 65. This is expected to rise to 25% by 2041.

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  • Increasing Life Expectancy – between 1980 and 2006 life expectancy rose 2.8 years for women and 4 years for men. It’s currently 81.3 for women and 76.9 for men. As people live longer, the number of older people increases.
  • Baby Booms – lots of babies were born in the 1940s and 1960s. These large generations are starting to retire, increasing the number of elderly people.
  • Falling Birth Rate – there are fewer young people, so the proportion of older people is greater.
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1.  Pressure on the pension system – there aren’t enough people of working-age to pay for an adequate pension for the retired population. State pensions are paid by the working population through taxes.

  • Today, 60% of the population (the people of working age) are paying taxes that go towards the pensions of 19% of the population (the people of retirement age).
  • By 2030, on 56% of the population will be of working-age but the taxes they pay will have to pay for the pensions of the 27% of the population of retirement age.

2.  More elderly people live in poverty – the state pension isn’t very large, and many people don’t have other savings. The working population isn’t large enough to provide a better pension.

3.  Pressures on the health service – older people often need more medical care than younger people, eg. the average hospital stay in 2005 for people over 75 was 13 nights, but only 8 nights for the UK population as a whole.

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Strategies to maintain the population

  • The age of retirement has been increased – retirement age in the UK is currently 65 for men and 60 for women, but this will be raised to 68 for everyone by 2050.  Increasing the retirement age means people have to work for longer, increasing the size of the working population.
  • Encourage immigration of working age people – the UK has allowed unlimited immigration of people from countries who joined the EU in 2004, eg. Poland. In 2004, around 80% of immigrants that came to the UK from the new EU countries were 34 or under. This also increases the size of the working population.
  • Encouraging more women to have children – new UK proposals mean women won’t lose out on state pensions if they take career breaks to have children. This could encourage women to have children. Working family tax credits support women (and men) who go back to work once their children are born, which might also encourage more couples to have children.
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Sustainable Strategies

Strategies to manage ageing populations should support sustainable development. But usually they can’t do this on their own – other actions need to be taken to help achieve sustainable development.

  • Increasing retirement age – this helps towards sustainable development because it doesn’t increase the population. But it might mean more jobs are needed, as people work for longer. This could hinder sustainable development if the new jobs aren’t provided in a way that works towards sustainability, eg. building and working in new coal-powered power plants versus wind turbine power plants.
  • Allowing immigration – this is only sustainable if the needs of the new people are met in a sustainable way, eg. meeting the increased energy demand by increasing energy production from renewable sources, building new energy-efficient homes with god insulation and natural heating systems.
  • Encouraging more children – this could increase the population of a country, and so is similar to immigration.
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Youthful Popultion


Like many poorer and undeveloped countries, Uganda has a youthful population. In 2007, 50% of the population were under 15 and only 3% were over 65.

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  • High Birth and Fertility Rates – every year there are 48 babies born for every 1,000 people, and women have an average of 7 children during their reproductive years (15-44).
  • Low Life Expectancy of around 52 years – there are very few older people, which means the proportion of the population made up of young people is very high.
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The main problem caused by a youthful population is overpopulation, which is caused by a high birth rate. The population of Uganda is currently around 30 million, but by 2025 it’s though it will grow to about 56 million. When there are too many people for the resources the country has, things like health service and levels of employment suffer:

  • Pressure on the health service – around 6,000 women already die each year in childbirth. When the youthful population reaches reproductive age the pressure on health services will be even greater, potentially leading to more deaths. The health service is also stretched because of HIV/AIDS. It’s passed on from mother to child and through unprotected sex, so HIV/AIDS may spread further when the youthful population start to have children, putting even more strain on the health system.
  • Unemployment could get much worse – in 2003 unemployment in Uganda was 3.2%. However, 50% of the population are under 15 and so weren’t counted in these figures. When the large youth population reaches working age there won’t be enough jobs for them all, so unemployment will rise further, causing poverty to increase.
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Strategies to maintain the population

  • Encouraging the use of contraceptives and family planning – the use of contraceptives among married women is less than 25%. New policies encouraging the use of contraceptives allow women to plan how many children they have and when they have them, eg. the government has brought in free contraceptives like condoms. However, family planning clinics aren’t widespread, so many people don’t have easy access to birth control. Since 1991, birth rate has increased, suggesting this population management method isn’t working.
  • Policies to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS – in the late 1980s a programme of education called the ABC Approach was used (Abstain from sex until marriage, Be faithful to one partner and use Condoms). This strategy worked – HIV infection rates fell from 15% of all adults in 1991 to 5% in 2001.
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  • Encouraging Contraception – this should reduce birth rate and help prevent overpopulation from getting any worse. This means the country can focus on sustainable development for the current population, without the population increasing dramatically and putting pressure on sustainable development strategies.
  • Reducing the Spread of Disease – this relieves pressure on the health care system, which frees up money to be used elsewhere, eg. in developing sustainable irrigation techniques for rural farming communities.

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The idea of a transmigration policy was first introduced in the early 19th century. Transmigration was a scheme created by the Indonesian government to ease overpopulation in the capital of Java, as population distribution was very uneven, by moving people from the "core" areas, like Java, Bali and Madura, to the less populated areas of Indonesia (known as the "periphery"), like Sumatra and Kalimantan. The government provided land, money and fertiliser for those who move for 18 months in order to allow them to sustain a small farm. It is estimated that 7 million people were moved in total. The main aims of transmigration were:

  • To create a balanced demographic spread by easing population density in Java, Bali and Madura and increasing the density in less developed areas.
  • To eliminate poverty by providing land for the landless.
  • To exploit the outer islands of Indonesia.
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  • The policy hasn't really effected the problems of overpopulation in Java, Bali and Madura or given a better quality of life and standard of living to the migrants. 
  • Indonesia's outer islands contain 10% of the world's remaining rainforests, which has been destroyed by transmigrants.
  • Resettlement was political, to remove the indigenous population from the outer islands.
  • It was aimed at the forced assimilation of indigenous people such as forest dwellers.
  • The project costed the Indonesian government $7,000 per family and was an economic disaster, worsening Indonesia's national debt.
  • It had little effect on reducing Java's population. Poverty was worsened due to poor farming conditions (low quality soil), no access to markets and poor site preparation.

The policy has been quietly dropped (but not officially) as it does not appear to be carrying on - this is most likely due to the costs involved.

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Rural Areas

Isle of Purbeck


The Isle of Purbeck is located in the South of England in Dorset. Its area is approximately 200km squared and the South and East of the area are surrounded by sea (the English Channel). The north is divided by the River Frome and Poole Harbour. There is one town, Swanage, several villages and a seaside resort. Access to the Isle of Purbeck is provided via the A351 road which is linked to the Poole-Bournemouth conurbation (population 500,000).

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Ethnic diversity in the Isle of Purbeck is minimal. 98.8% of the population is white, versus 90.9% in the rest of England. According to the 2001 census, the ethnic groups where distributed as follows in the Isle of Purbeck:

  • White = 98.8%
  • Mixed = 0.4%
  • Asian/Asian British = 0.1%
  • Black/Black British = 0.1%
  • Chinese/Other = 0.6%
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In the past 40 years, the population has grown and, in 2001, the population was 44,400. This population is substantially older than the rest of England, with 21.77% of the population over 65 in the Isle of Purbeck versus 15.89% in the rest of England. The reason for this is likely due to the attractiveness of the area for retirement. In addition, a large number of young people are migrating out of the area, in search of employment.

The death rate in the area (in general) was 11.9 per thousand and the birth rate was 10.1 per thousand in 2001. Looking at more specific areas, in Studland the death rate was 19.6 per 1000, again, largely due to the high proportion of elderly people.

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Public Transport

Due to the lack of services in villages such as Langton Matravers, public transport is essential in order to allow people to go about their day to day activities so that they can access distant services. Unfortunately, public transport in the whole area of the Isle of Purbeck is incredibly poor. There are a total of four bus routes covering the area and a ferry. The village of Wareham is on the Waterloo to Weymouth line though.

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The quantity and quality of services in the Isle of Purbeck has seen a sharp decline in recent years. General stores have become rare, with three out of four villages having no general storePost offices have been closing as have petrol stations and public houses. Conversely, the number of general practices has been rising in the area. Since 1991nine surgeries have opened and no schools have been closed.

Comparing the services of villages within the Isle of Purbeck, there appears to be some variety in their availability. The village of Corfe Castle, a prominent tourist destination, has significantly more services than less important villages, such as Langton Matravers, despite their similar populations (980 & 910 respectively). Langton Matravers lacks a post office, petrol station, general store, GP surgery or any food shops. Comparatively, Corfe Castle has 16 shops, a petrol station, post office and 4 public houses.

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Housing Problems

The cost of housing in the area has risen exponentially in the past few years, thanks largely to migrants, second home owners and retirees. As there’s a lot of people trying to purchase a small number of homes, the cost of the homes has risen, forcing locals out of the area. This problem is further worsened due to the low pay, or lack of, jobs.

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Urban/Rural Characteristics


Byker = Inner City

Jesmond = Suburb

Gosforth = Rural/Urban Fringe

Longhorsley = Rural (commuter settlement)

(2001 cencus)

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  • The Byker wall development (flats) and some 19th century terraced housing.
  • 8% owned outright.
  • 18.5% owned with mortgage.
  • 58% rented from council.


  • Large terraced 19th century houses.
  • Studentification and gentrification.
  • 23% owned outright.
  • 31.5% owned with mortgage.
  • 2% rented from council.
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  • wide range of housing, mainly 20th century semi-detached.
  • High quality, low density.
  • 30.5% owned outright.
  • 50% owned with mortgage.
  • 13% rented fro council.


  • Converted farm buildings, some council housing and some new private estates on edge.
  • 35% owned outright.
  • 43% owned with mortgage.
  • 6% rented from council.
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Social Status


  • A high proportion of unskilled workers and unemployed.
  • 30% of adults aged 16-74 are economically active, full time.


  • Large numbers of students.
  • Other residents are generally high earning professionals, eg. doctors, lawyers.
  • 36% of adults aged 16-74 are economically active, full time.
  • Mainly tertiary sector.
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Social Status


  • A high proportion of professional and skilled workers.
  • 44% of adults aged 16-74 are economically active, full time.


  • A high number of retired residents,
  • 38% of adults aged 16-74 are economically active, full time.
  • Mainly professional workers and some agricultural workers.
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  • Mainly white (95%)
  • An increasing number of ethnic minorities and asylum seekers.


  • Mainly white (93%)
  • Foreign students often remain in Jesmond after qualifying.
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  • Mainly white (96%)
  • Asian (2%)
  • Housing tends to be too expensive for international migrants moving to the city.


  • Mainly white (99.6%)
  • Ethnic minorities tend to settle in inner city areas and are least likely to move to a rural area.
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Family Size


  • Often a high number of dependent children due to various social reasons.


  • Lots of single students sharing properties.
  • Also a high proportion of professional single people.
  • Average number of children for other residents is 1 to 2.
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Family Size


  • Mainly families with 1 to 2 children.
  • There has been an increase in birth rate in this area.
  • The area is becoming increasingly popular with families.
  • Some elderly residents.


  • A large number of eldrely retired families with no dependent children.
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  • General health good = 56%
  • Long term illness = 29.5%


  • General health good = 78%
  • Long term illness = 12%
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  • General health good = 70%
  • Long term illness = 17%


  • General health good = 75%
  • Long term illness = 38%
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Mexico to USA migration

Migration from Mexico to the United States Of America primarily involves the movement of Mexicans from Mexico to the southern states of America which border Mexico. In order to gain access to America, Mexicans must cross the “Unites States-Mexico Border”, a border which spans four US states & six Mexican states. In America, it starts in California and ends in Texas (east to west). Due to their proximity to the border & the high availability of work in these states, the majority of Mexicans move to California followed by Texas. California currently houses 11,423,000 immigrants with Texas holding 7,951,000.

Many Mexicans from rural communities migrate to North America, the majority being males who move to America and then send money back to their families in Mexico. Many of these immigrants enter the country illegally, which often requires them to cross a large desert that separates Mexico and America and the Rio Grande. These journeys are dangerous and many immigrants have died, or nearly died, trying to cross into America through these routes.

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Push Factors


  • There are incredibly high crime rates in Mexico, especially in the capital (Mexico City). Homocide rates come in at around 10-14 per 100,000 people (world average = 10.9 per 100,000) and drug related crimes are a major concern. It is thought that in the past five years, 47,500 people have been killed in crimes related to drugs. Many Mexicans will move out of fear for their lives and hope that America is a more stable place to live, with lower crime rates.
  • The climate and natural hazards in Mexico could force people to move to America. Mexico is a very arid area which suffers from water shortages even in the more developed areas of Mexico. The country suffers from natural disasters including volcanoesearthquakeshurricanes and tsunamis. Recent natural disasters could force people to migrate if their homes have been destroyed or made uninhabitable. People who live in danger zones could also migrate out of fear for their lives.
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Push Factors

  • Unemployment and poverty is a major problem in Mexico and has risen exponentially in recent years. In 2000, unemployment rates in Mexico were at 2.2, however, in 2009, they rose by 34.43% leaving them standing at 5.37 in 2010. A large portion of the Mexican population are farmers, living in rural areas where extreme temperatures and poor quality land makes it difficult to actually farm. This is causing many Mexican families to struggle, with 47% of the population living under the poverty line. With these high unemployment and poverty rates, people are forced to move to America, where they have better prospects, in order to be able to support their families and maintain a reasonable standard of living.
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Pull Factors


  • 86.1% of the Mexican population can read and write versus 99% of the population in America. In addition, the majority of students in Mexico finish school at the age of 14, versus 16 in America. These statistics show that there are significantly better academic opportunities in America than in Mexico, which can entice Mexicans to migrate for an improved education, either for themselves or, more likely, their future children, in order to give them more opportunities in the world and allow them to gain higher paying jobs.
  • There is a noticeable difference in the quality of life between America & Mexico. Poverty is a major issue in Mexico, with 6% of the population lacking access to “improved” drinking water. Mexico’s infrastructure is severely undeveloped when compared to America’s. Despite being the 11th richest country in the World, Mexico also has the 10th highest poverty. With America offering significantly better living standards and services, such as health care, people are enticed to move to America for a better life.

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Pull Factors

  • Existing migrant communities in states such as Texas and California help to pull people towards migration. Existing communities make it easier for people to settle once moved and family members & friends who have already moved can encourage others to move. People are also enticed to move in order to be with their families. Cousins and brothers will often move in with their relatives after they have lived in America for a while in order to be with their family.
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  • Assimilation of Mexicans into American communities has been problematic. Many Mexicans can’t speak fluent English and studies show that their ability to speak English doesn’t improve drastically whilst they live in the US. This is largely due to them living in closed communities of other Mexican immigrants which reduces their need to assimilate with America. This can, in turn, create tension between migrants and locals which can, in extreme cases, lead to segregationcrime and violence.

  • There are concerns that immigrants are increasing crime rates in areas that they migrate to. Low income & poor education are factors which can lead to crime. In addition, as Mexico is a country associated with drug trafficking, there are concerns that Mexican migrants could be smuggling drugs into America, creating the problem of drug related crimes.

  • The introduction of Mexican cultural traditions to America, especially in states with large numbers of migrants, have helped to improve cultural aspects of those states. Mexican themed food has become incredibly popular in America with burrito and taco fast food shops opening up across the country. The new food & music has helped to improve the cultural diversity of America significantly.

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  • With such a large number of Mexican migrants not speaking English fluently, it is now common for Spanish to be taught in American schoolswidening the skill set of the younger population and improving the potential career opportunities that students may have. This also (slightly) helps ease social tensions caused by people speaking different languages which locals don’t understand.

  • With so many young people leaving Mexico, its developing an increasingly dependant population as the majority of people left are the elderly who can not work. Furthermore, the lack of young fertile couples is reducing the birth rate in Mexico, further increasing the dependency ratio as there is no workforce to pay taxes to support the elderly.

  • The majority of migrants leaving Mexico are males leaving a population with a high number of females. This is problematic as they are unable to find partnersget married and, in a mostly catholic country, have children (out of wedlock). This is, as mentioned above, reducing the birth rate and increasing the dependency ratio.

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  • Mexican migrants often take low payingmenial jobs, which, while low paying, offer higher wages than what they’d earn in Mexico. This was, at first, advantageous, as many Americans did not want these low paying jobs but companies needed people to fill these jobs. Now, as unemployment rises in America, Americans want these menial jobs but many migrants already have taken the jobs. This can lead to increased social tension as Americans believe that their jobs are being taken.

  • Migrants work at incredibly low wages. Americans who are desperate for work are now often expected to work at these incredibly low wages too, which they can’t afford to do, leading to increased poverty in America. Many companies are now also replacing American labour with cheaper migrant labour, also increasing unemployment rates are people are forced out of their jobs.

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  • While legal Mexican migrants are working & paying taxes, they often send money they earn back to their families in Mexico, rather than spending it in America, which can effect the country’s economy as there is less money being spent on products which are taxed in America. Conversely, the increased amount of money being sent back to Mexico is helping its economy greatly as people now have money to spend on goods and services.

  • As people move out of Mexico, pressure on landsocial services and jobs is being relieved. Unemployment will fall and health services will no longer be over capacity as the population is reduced. The problem, however, arises when the young and skilled workforce leaves, resulting in a shortage of potential workers to fill these newly freed jobs and to work in these social services. A shortage of medically trained people, for example, could counteract the relieved health system.

  • Mexico’s population is very dependent on food grown in Mexico. Unfortunately, the majority of migrants come from rural areas, leaving a shortage of farmers and therefore the potential for food shortages in Mexico as the economically active people from rural areas leave.

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