Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Population and Development in Asia

by Edward Hugh


The Asian MetaCentre is organising a three day conference from the 20 to 22 March: Population and Development in Asia, Critical Issues for a Sustainable Future.

There are two keynote speakers. Geoffrey McNicoll of the Population Council who will be speaking on "Population and Sustainability in Asia: Adjusting to a Post-Transition Era":

Large parts of Asia have completed or are nearing the end of the transition to a modern demographic regime of low death and birth rates and high median age. That does not mean that major demographic change is nearly at an end: quite the opposite. There are decades of population growth still ahead, vast relocations from countryside to cities yet to come, and continuing and rapid further shifts in age distribution toward the elderly. The supposedly calm waters of a post-transition regime, with a stationary or gently declining population, might eventually be reached, but only much later in this century. These anticipated changes, occurring alongside the region's remarkable economic transformation, add greatly to the already challenging tasks of social and environmental policymaking. The policy experience of the demographic forerunners of Europe and Japan should be examined but, given the unprecedented scale and pace of demographic change in continental Asia, may have only limited lessons to offer.

and Graeme Hugo of the University of Adelaide, speaking on "Migration and Development in Asia"

No dimension of the massive demographic, social and economic change, which has swept across Asia in the last two decades, has been more dramatic than or as far reaching in its impact as the increase in personal mobility. Population movement between and within Asian nations and to countries outside of Asia has increased greatly both in scale and diversity, and mobility is now an option for most Asians as they assess their life chances. The relationship between mobility and development, however is a complex and two way one, although the understanding of that relationship remains limited generally but particularly in the Asian region. Data relevant to investigating the relationship are in short supply and the research regarding it is patchy. The present paper seeks to assess the current state of knowledge with respect to population movement and development in the Asian region.
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1 comment:

joatsimeon@aol.com said...

The demographic "transition" is by no means complete in Asia, because the assumption that TFR's would stabilize at or near the replacement level has been shown to be false.

In China, for example, not only has overall TFR fallen to somewhere between 1.2 and 1.7 (the official PRC figures and the CIA estimate, respectively) but _urban_ TFR's have fallen much further -- to below 1 in many areas.

Given that China is rapidly urbanizing and that urban attitudes and practices tend to spread into rural areas, this argues that overall Chinese TFR's will continue to fall towards the levels currently seen in South Korea or Italy -- around 1.

This in turn implies that aging will be much more rapid than previously thought, and that the eventual population decline will commence earlier and will be much more drastic.

At a TFR at or near 1, China's population would begin to decline within another decade or decade and a half, and totals could drop by more than 1% annually, at an ever-accelerating rate.

The gender imbalance (which is already at 120:100 nationally) will exacerbate this decline by cutting the crude birth rate even below what might otherwise be expected with such low TFR's.

As sex-selective abortion tends in Asia to be positively correlated with income and education, the imbalance may well become even more pronounced; in any event, there is little sign that it will decrease.