7 The world’s other population problem What should the European Union do about its declining population?



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7
The world’s other
population problem



What should the European Union do about its declining population?

This investigation is designed to highlight to pupils that the world has not one, but two population problems; the first is the rapid population growth in the poorest countries of the world and the second is the declining population in the European Union. The main focus is on the latter of these and the enquiry enables pupils to investigate the causes, implications and solutions to this situation.

The enquiry begins by describing what is happening to the population of the European Union. The activities in the Student Book, which are supported by the sheets in the Teacher Book, introduce the countries of the EU, particularly focusing on the date of accession and the varying levels of development between the twenty-eight member countries. This question also introduces the Demographic Transition Model, asking pupils to consider the stage at which each of the countries are currently located. The traditional four-stage model is introduced and then extended to incorporate Stage 5 and to suggest Stage 6. The sheet ‘Designing a new demographic model’ provides some background to both the Demographic Transition Model and the alternative model suggested for use in LEDCs. It moves forward by encouraging the pupils to design their own models to bring the DTM up to date.

Question 7.2, ‘What are the causes of this decline?’, discusses the key statistics and attempts to explain the low death rates, declining birth rates and pattern of migration found in the European Union. The A8 accession of countries in 2004 is briefly discussed but the debate is then brought up to date with a discussion of the impact of Bulgaria and Romania’s accession in 2014. The implication of the decline in population is then investigated; whilst positive impacts are highlighted, the focus is on the ageing population and the problems that such a demographic structure can cause. Pupils are asked to consider the advantages and disadvantages before suggesting potential practical solutions to the problems. Discussion surrounding the effectiveness or potential support for each of their suggested solutions, particularly focusing on individual choice versus the good of the country, could be explored.

The enquiry then turns its attention to the solutions for a declining population, focusing firstly on migration and then on strategies for increasing birth rates. Some of these are taken from other parts of the world and vary in their creativity (and success!). The assessment asks pupils to create a presentation to answer the question posed at the beginning of the enquiry: ‘What should the European Union do about its declining population?’ Pupils should focus on creating a presentation which provides some background to the situation and which describes and explains their solutions in a clear and effective way. They should think about their mode of presentation and also how they use diagrams, images and text to get their message across.

The final part of the enquiry looks specifically at the situation in the UK, which has, contrary to many of the EU countries, seen an increase in population, both naturally and through migration. Reasons for this trend are identified and pupils are encouraged to research a country in the EU in a similar position.



Through this enquiry, pupils will be challenged and supported to:



  • Develop contextual knowledge of the location of globally significant places, including their defining physical and human geographical characteristics, and how these provide a geographical context for understanding the actions of geographical processes.

  • Understand the processes that give rise to key physical and human features of the world, how these are interdependent and how they bring about spatial variation and change over time.

  • Interpret a range of sources of geographical information to reach substantiated conclusions and judgements consistent with the evidence and communicate these in a variety of ways, including through maps, numerical and quantitative skills, writing and presenting.

Pupils should be taught to:



Human and physical geography

  • Understand through the use of detailed place-based exemplars at a variety of scales the key
    processes in:

    • Human geography relating to population.

Geographical skills and fieldwork

  • Build on their knowledge of globes, maps and atlases and apply and develop this knowledge routinely in the classroom.

  • Draw conclusions from geographical data, using multiple sources of increasingly complex information.



  • The creation of a presentation to describe and explain what the European Union should do about its declining population.



T

itle:







  • Use the table at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union and an atlas to shade the map on page 69 in order to show the year of accession to the European Union of the twenty-eight member countries. Don’t forget to complete the map key and add a title.

  • Which countries in Europe are not members of the European Union? Why do you think they have made the decision not to be part of this group?

  • Seven countries are on the waiting list to join the EU. Read about them here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11283616

Whilst none of the countries of the European Union could be described as less economically developed countries (LEDCs), there is a significant difference between the most and the least developed. We can use a variety of development indicators to assess the level of development of the European Union countries. The table below shows the countries ranked in order of the Human Development Index, which compares life expectancy, literacy, education, standards of living and quality of life on a scale of 1 (highest level of development) to 0 (lowest level of development). The other columns in the table illustrate development based upon gross domestic product per capita (GDP per person) and Happiness Planet Index (the higher the number the happier the country). You can watch a video introducing this indicator at http://www.happyplanetindex.org/

Rank

Country

HDI (2014)

GDP per capita in US$ (2013)

Happy Planet Index (2014)

1

Netherlands

0.915

47,617

43.1

2

Germany

0.911

45,085

47.2

3

Denmark

0.900

58,930

36.6

4

Ireland

0.899

47,400

42.4

5

Sweden

0.898

58,164

46.2

6

United Kingdom

0.892

39,351

47.9

7

France

0.884

41,421

46.5

8

Austria

0.893

49,074

47.1

9

Belgium

0.892

45,387

37.1

9

Luxembourg

0.892

111,162

29.0

11

Finland

0.879

47,219

42.7

12

Slovenia

0.874

22,059

40.2

13

Italy

0.879

34,619

46.4

14

Spain

0.869

29,118

44.1

15

Czech Republic

0.861

18,861

39.4

16

Greece

0.853

21,910

40.5

17

Cyprus

0.845

26,352

45.5

18

Estonia

0.840

18,478

34.9

19

Lithuania

0.834

14,172

34.6

20

Poland

0.834

13,432

42.6

21

Slovakia

0.830

16,893

40.1

22

Malta

0.829

20,839

43.1

23

Portugal

0.822

21,029

38.7

24

Hungary

0.818

12,560

37.4

25

Croatia

0.812

13,530

40.6

26

Latvia

0.810

13,947

34.9

27

Romania

0.785

9,499

42.2

28

Bulgaria

0.777

7,296

34.1

  • Can you group the countries using the data in the table above? How have you organised the groups? How many are there?

  • Do you think that the difference in the level of development between countries within the EU is a problem or an opportunity? Why do you think this?

  • In the case of the European Union, is it correct to say that money equals happiness?




Key terms:

Overall population change: natural change plus net migration.

Births (per 1000 per year): the number of people born in the country per 1000 of the population in a year.

Deaths (per 1000 per year): the number of people who die in the country per 1000 of the population in a year.

Natural Change (per 1000 per year): the birth rate minus the death rate.

Net migration (per 1000 per year): the difference between the number of people moving into the country and those moving out.


Use the table of population data in the student book to help you to answer the questions below.



  • Overall, there are _____ countries in the European Union where the population is growing
    and _____ where the population is declining.

  • However, if we just take natural change into account then there are _____ where the population
    is growing and ______ where the population is declining.

  • There are ______ countries which have positive net migration (there are more people arriving than leaving) and _____ countries which have a negative net migration (there are more people
    leaving than arriving).

Sort the twenty-eight countries in the table into the correct part of the diagram. The United Kingdom has been done for you.





Have a look at the demographic transition model in the student book. Can you work out at which stage each of the European Union countries are currently at? The first two have been done for you.


    Country

    Birth rate
    (per 1000 per year)


    Death rate
    (per 1000 per year)


    Stage of the Demographic Transition Model

    Belgium

    9.99

    10.76

    Stage 4/5

    Bulgaria

    8.92

    14.30

    Stage 5

    Czech Republic

    9.79

    10.29




    Denmark

    10.22

    10.23




    Germany

    8.42

    11.29




    Estonia

    10.29

    13.69




    Ireland

    15.18

    6.45




    Greece

    8.80

    11.00




    Spain

    9.88

    9.00




    France

    12.49

    9.06




    Croatia

    9.49

    12.13




    Italy

    8.84

    10.10




    Cyprus

    11.44

    6.57




    Latvia

    9.79

    13.60




    Lithuania

    9.36

    11.55




    Luxembourg

    11.75

    8.53




    Hungary

    9.26

    12.72




    Malta

    10.24

    8.96




    Netherlands

    10.83

    8.57




    Austria

    8.76

    10.38




    Poland

    9.77

    10.37




    Portugal

    9.42

    10.97




    Romania

    9.27

    11.88




    Slovenia

    8.54

    11.25




    Slovakia

    10.01

    9.70




    Finland

    10.35

    10.51




    Sweden

    11.92

    9.45




    United Kingdom

    12.22

    9.34







Warren Thompson, an American geographer, devised the Demographic Transition Model by plotting birth and death rates in industrialised countries over 200 years. However, he did this in 1929. So, whilst still useful, the model is becoming less relevant to the populations of today. Many GCSE and A level geography syllabuses talk of explaining ‘Stage 5’ of demographic transition, a stage which was omitted from Thompson’s original model. However, some geographers go further to suggest that some countries may be heading for a new ‘Stage 6’, where very advanced countries with high HDI are seeing increases in fertility.

However, if the Demographic Transition Model is a poor fit for today’s more economically developed countries (MEDCs), it is a very poor fit for LEDCs who have higher birth and death rates than MEDCs ever did and have whizzed through Stage 2 into 3, with little hope of ever reaching Stage 4. As a result, Berelson has created a model for LEDCs which has three rather than four, five, or even six stages and which divides LEDCs into two types: Type A who have experienced economic development and have seen their birth and death rates decline in Stage 3; and Type B who are typically low income LEDCs with high birth rates maintained and death rates that have levelled off, but are still at a higher rate than Type A countries.



The enquiry suggests that increasing migration between countries in the EU (and further afield) may help to halt population decline. Such movement creates advantages and disadvantages for both the origin and destination countries. Complete the table below with some of your suggestions.






Advantages

Disadvantages

Country of origin







Country of destination







Now, sort these into economic advantages and disadvantages and social advantages and disadvantages. You may want to highlight each with a different colour.

What conclusions can you draw from your table? For example, are the advantages and disadvantages for the country of origin mainly social, economic or a combination of the two? Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages for both countries or is one losing out?

The UK government has said that it will hold a referendum in 2017, if it is re-elected, which will ask the public whether or not the UK should remain a member of the EU. You can read more about this at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25152028.

Purely thinking about the issue of migration, do you think that not being a member of the EU would make the population situation in the UK better or worse? Why do you think this?




1.

Stage 2

Stage 3

Stage 5

Stage 6

2.

Bulgaria

Cyprus

Estonia

Latvia

3.

Education

Lifestyle

Healthcare

Migration

4.

Birth rate

Fertility rate

Replacement rate

Death rate

5.

UK

Poland

Czech Republic

Slovenia

6.

Elderly population

Childcare costs

Taxes

Workforce

7.

One child policy

Yotaro

Family Day

Adverts

8.













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7 The odd word out is

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8 The odd word out is

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© Collins Bartholomew 2015 Geographical Enquiry Teacher Book 2: The world’s other population problem







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