This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Quantifying the Momentum of the Age Transition

The age transition is the single most important aspect of the overall demographic transition because the demographic changes to which a society must respond manifest themselves through changes in the age structure. It is also a difficult concept to quantify because it reflects so many changes taking place simultaneously. Professor Thomas Espenshade and some of his colleagues at Princeton's Office of Population Research have taken on this challenge by decomposing population momentum into that part which is due just to the difference between the actual and the stable age structures (what they call non-stable momentum), and that part which is due to the relative changes between fertility and mortality (which they call stable momentum). Their paper, which will appear in the journal Demography next year, is not necessarily an easy read, but here are some highlights:

Our estimates indicate that world population would grow by an additional 40% if global fertility rates had moved instantaneously to replacement in 2005. Nonstable and stable momentum contribute roughly equal shares to world population momentum. Taking natural logarithms shows that nonstable momentum accounts for about 53% of total world momentum, and stable momentum contributes roughly 47%.
The value for nonstable momentum reflects a country’s recent trend in fertility. In a stable population where fertility has been constant for a long time, nonstable momentum is nonexistent. But countries that have a history of fertility decline, especially a recent and sharp decline, will have larger values for nonstable momentum. The value for stable momentum is dictated by a population’s current level of fertility in relation to mortality. A high (low) net reproduction rate corresponds to a large (small) value for stable momentum. This decomposition gives us a new way of thinking about the determinants of overall population momentum. In addition, it allows us to integrate disparate strands of the population momentum literature and see how the various kinds of momentum that researchers have considered fit together into a single analytic and empirical framework.

1 comment:

  1. It is interesting to note the changes that take place because of the age transition. As noted above, many aspects of demography are changed due to a shift of age in the population. This mostly is because, as more young people are born into a population, usually a population’s fertility increases, resulting in more babies. Because the fertility rates are projected to greatly increase for many countries, numerous changes in the world are going to occur. The age transition may therefore lead to many more transitions to follow.

    For example, transitions having to do with resources, such as water, food and fuel, may be something that has to be considered when the population is growing so rapidly. As these resources become more limited, solutions will have to be thought up in order for humans to sustain life on this planet. These solutions will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the world and its growing population.

    -Brielle Martell

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