The countries of the world can be dichotomously classified into two categories in accordance with certain indicators of social and economic advancement.
Those countries which fulfill the following criteria are consider to be developed: a higher per capita income, a higher level of literacy and educational attainment, a larger proportion of urban population, lower birth rate and lower rate of population growth, higher status of women, better means of transportation and communication, better facilities of medical health care, higher consumption of energy, etc.
The United Nations prefers to designate the economically advanced countries as “more developed” and the economically backward countries as “less developed countries”.
According to the United Nations, the following regions of the world are included in the category of “more developed” regions: (1) North America, (2) Japan, (3) Europe, (4) Australia and New Zealand, and (5) Temperate South America.
For the purpose of this book the economically advanced countries are designated as “developed countries” while those which are in dynamic stage of economic and social development are termed as “developing countries”.
It is obvious that the countries of the world are divided into two distinct areas, the developed and developing.
One striking feature of the world population situation as in 1997 was the fact that 80 per cent of the world population was concentrated in the economically less developed countries.
According to the projections of the Population Reference Bureau this proportion is going to rise to 82 in the year 2010 and to 85 in the year 2025.
When the factors involved in the natural rate of population change are considered, the average birth rate of developed countries is observed to be much lower (11 per 1000 population) than that of the developing countries (27 per 1000 population).
However, some of these countries are having death rates which are higher than their birth rates, for example, Germany, Russia and Ukraine.
This has led to the negative rate of population growth for these countries, resulting in the dwindling of the population size as can be seen in.
On the other hand, the average birth rate in African continent is 40 per 1000 population and the birth rate in Ethiopia and Nigeria is 46 and 43 per 1000 population respectively.
The average birth rate in Asia (excluding China) is 31 per 1000 population. However, countries such as Pakistan, Iran, and Bangladesh have birth rates which are higher than 30. The birth for India is observed to be 29 per 1000 population and that of China is noted as 17 per 1000 population.
When death rates are considered, it is observed that developed and the developing countries do not differ much. In fact the developed countries have recorded higher death rate (11 per 1000 population as against 9 per 1000 population of the developing countries).
This is primarily due to the fact that the age distribution of the developed countries (larger proportion of the aged population) is conducive to the higher level of death rate.
On the whole continent of Africa is showing the highest death rate (14 per 1000 population) and that of South America and East Asia the lowest death rate (7 per 1000 population).
The time taken to double the population is yet another feature worth considering. Obviously, countries with low rates of population increase will take a longer time to double their populations than those with high rates of population growth. With the current rate of natural increase, the world population will double in 47 years.
Whereas developing countries have the potentiality of doubling their population in 38 years, the developed countries will take 564 years to double their populations. The population of Nigeria wills double itself in 23 years.
The populations of Ethiopia and Pakistan will double in 25 years. Iran will take 26 years to double its population. On the contrary the population of the United Kingdom with its population growing at the rate of 0.2 per cent per year will double in 433 years.
On the whole the countries of Africa, Asia and some regions of Latin America face the prospect of very rapid population growth, unless their birth rates are drastically reduced.
When some of the indicators of social and economic developments are considered, it is observed that the countries of the world are again divided into two groups.
Those which have low birth rates and low rates of growth are precisely those which have high expectation of life, large proportion of urban population and high per capita gross national product.
On the other hand, countries which have high birth rates and high rates of growth also have low expectation of life, small proportion of urban population and low per capita gross national product.
Another feature of the latter type of countries mainly in Africa, Asia and some regions of Latin America is that they have to bear a heavy burden of the young population (below 15 years of age) than do the developed countries. The developed countries, on the contrary have to bear heavy burden of aged population (of age 65 and over).
For example, the per capita gross national product of Germany and the United States of America in 1995 was $27510 and $26980 respectively.
On the other hand the gross per capita national product for Ethiopia and Bangladesh was $100 and $240 respectively. India is also one of the poorest countries with its per capita gross national product $ 340.
Another striking feature as noted earlier is the fact that in 1997, 80 per cent of the world population is concentrated in the economically less developed countries.
Two conditions contribute to aggravate the situation. The base population size of these countries is huge and their rates of population increase are very high (in many cases more than two per cent per year), leading to rapid population growth.
These countries are also economically backward, though they are trying to eradicate poverty and raise the standard of living of their people. It, therefore, appears that the demographic characteristics of the economically backward countries are related to their poverty.
The problem of rapid population growth is one of the most serious confronting mankind and it has gradually assumed frightening proportions.
Some thinkers even regard the problem of explosively population growth as one of the three major obstacles to the progress of the world the H Bomb, over-population and the gap between the rich and the poor.
The history of the growth of world population from the early beginnings of Homo sapiens up to the recent times can only be based on speculation because evidence in support of it is quite scanty.
Even for the present times, it is a difficult task to arrive at a reliable estimate of the world population and the population of its various regions.
It may be recalled that census operations first began in a few countries as recently as the beginning of the nineteenth century and that, up to the end of the Second World War, several nations in the third world had never conducted any census.
It is, therefore, not surprising that data on population size have become available in the majority of the countries of the world only in recent times. The generally accepted estimates prior to 1900 are based on fragmentary information supplemented by informed guesses.
As one goes back in time, the available statistics become increasingly fragmentary and unreliable and, therefore, much of the demographic information is born out of scholarly guesses.
It just, however, be said to the credit of these scholars that they have tried to piece together the fragmentary historical, anthropological and biological evidence and have succeeded in building up a consistent picture of world population growth over the centuries.
The United Nations, after carefully reviewing all the information available for the period, has prepared estimates for the population of major regions since 1920.
The estimates of Walter F. Wilcox and A.M. Carr-Sunders for the period 1650 to 1900 are even today considered to be the most authoritative estimates of world population, region-wise and for different countries.
Some discrepancies may be observed in the figures on population size as estimated by different scholars. For the purposes of tracing the growth of world population, however, these estimates are useful.
Thus, though slight discrepancies in the figures used in may be observed, these may be safely ignored, for the magnitude of the variations is very small.
Population Growth Up to 1900: The history of population growth is indicative of the constant struggle between Homo sapiens and nature, and the success of man in adjusting, controlling and modifying his environment.
At each stage of human development along with man’s increasing ability to adjust to and control the environment, profound demographic changes have taken place.
It is, therefore, necessary to study the course of population growth in the context of the course of the development of man.
From archaeologies evidence, it may be surmised that about 10000 B.C., that approximately at the end of the Ice Age, the human race sparsely scattered over the face of the earth. As people had to their sustenance by hunting, fishing and gathering, they request vast areas of land to support even small groups.
The size of human population at that time was also very small, approximate between 100,000 and 1,000,000. As man roamed through change environments and improved his means of acquiring food, numbers slowly increased. In 5000 B.C., the size of the w population was thus between five and twenty million.
It was a great achievement for man when he changed settled farm-life – producing his own food by farming, cultivate and with the help of domesticated animals from the stag hunting, gathering and roaming.
This helped the formation city-centered society, which had important demography consequences. The rise of a city-centred society, associated improvements in farming, led to a fairly continuous belt of den populated land, which stretched from the Mediterranean Sea Southwest Asia to India and by way of the Central Asian.
In these zones, population increased somewhat rapidly w there was peace enforced by a strong emperors and crops good, while its growth was negligible when there were wars; natural calamities such as crop failures, famines and widespread epidemics.
The usual course of population growth, at this time, marked by a gradual growth for a short period followed by a sudden decline. During comparatively normal times, unhampered by and crop failures, the death rates would decline to some extra.
Since the birth rates would remain unchanged and would be slight higher than the death rates, population would tend to gather so surplus, which would serve as insurance against a calamity.
Her peaceful periods, however, were inevitably followed by wars, family and epidemics, diminishing the surplus stock.
It may be seen from Table 3.3 that, at the beginning of Christian era, the population of the world was around 256 military. By 1300 A.D., it increased to 400 million an insignificant increase in 1300 years.
However, was added in another period of 50 years and yet another million in the period from 1700 to 1750. From 1750 onwards, however, population increased rapidly, that is, by two million in the first 50-year period and by three million and four million respectively during the next two 50-year periods.
The history of population growth from 10000 B.C. to 1900 A.D., as traced in Table 3.3 indicates that while prior to 1650 the world population increased very gradually, from 1650 onwards the population started increasing fairly rapidly, the rate of population growth increasing from 0.1 per cent per year to 0.6 per cent per year.