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Areas Of Overpopulation And Areas Of Underpopulation

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Throughout the World different areas experience underpopulation and overpopulation at different times due to the unpredictable and complex practise of migration. Underpopulation occurs when there are far more resources in an area, such as food energy and minerals, than can be used by the people living there. Overpopulation occurs when there are too many people and not enough resources and technology to support these people. Countries such as China and Bangladesh have overpopulation as there are often food shortages and insufficient energy and mineral resources to support the population. The increasing globalisation in the world together with the wide and growing gap between the rich and the poor has seen migration increase over the years which means that it is virtually impossible for area to gain an optimum population and maintain it. The optimum population of an area is the number of people which , when working with all the available resources, will produce the greatest yield of economic return, per capita, which means the highest standard of living.

People migrate usually migrate from a rural to an urban area due to push and pull factors. People are deterred from living in rural areas as the work is more labour intensive, crops often fail and there are fewer amenities and services. People are attracted to the city as there is the chance of a better paid, less labour intensive job, there are more better quality amenities and there is the chance to eventually be accommodated in a better quality house. Migration can be such an unpredicatable trend, which can change an area experiencing underpopulation to an area with overpopulation. This is particularly the case with refugees who often flee in mass numbers from wars and conflict in the home nation. When mass numbers of people leave an area this will then experience underpopulation, so it is clear that because of migration, particularly in LEDC’s it is hard to maintenance or stabilise a population in the long term. Both underpopulation and overpopulation can affect a country’s development in negative rather than positive ways.

Bangladesh has a high population density of 888 per square km due to a high birth rate and declining death rate. This has resulted in 20% of the population being under the age of 9. The GNP in Bangladesh was 220 dollars in 1992, which is extremely low. There is a shortage of industry, services and raw materials and the transport network is poorly developed. There is also a low level of literacy due to the limited number of schools, which has meant that the country has little innovation and instead has to resort to overseas. However because of the low capita in Bangladesh it cannot afford to purchases talent which in the long-term would aid its economic development.

China is probably the most renown country for it’s overpopulation. China has a population of 1,211.21 million living on the mainland. China’s population density of 126 people per km, is relatively high. However, China does not have the highest population density in the world because of the country’s vast land resources. China is the world’s third largest country in land area (5) 9.3 million square km, but the country’s mountainous and desert regions do not support much inhabitants. Much of the population is clustered along the Pacific coast and in several fertile river valleys that extend inland, such as the Huang and the Yangtze. With such a vast population, China’s limited natural and economic resources poses a threat to the population. With increased consumption of resources, the need for fuel has lead to the destruction of forests. Another problem is the ageing population. The percentage of people at 65 or older is 6.23 percent, but is expected to reach almost 17 percent by 2020.

This change has significant implications because most rural elderly have no old-age pensions and must rely on their adult children for support. One of the biggest problems for China is the shortage of land due to overpopulation. A example of this situation is the Yangtze River Valley; a devastating flood left 3656 people dead and 64 million acres of land drenched. The expanding population forced housing projects desperate for land to deforest the areas like the Sichuan province in the Yangtze River Valley because the people have nowhere else to go but the mountains and deserts for living space, thus encouraging the erosion which increased the effects of the flood. Also, the population is becoming more urban. The 1990 census estimated China’s urban population at 297 million, an increase of nearly 90 million since 1982. Beijing’s population increased by 17 percent and Shanghai’s by 13 percent during this period.

This has lead to trends of underpopulation in China as people particularly young men migrate to urban areas in search of quality jobs. Therefore in rural areas, couples with the shortage of labour power or other difficulties were allowed to have a second child, with a minimum three-year gap between the first and second child and upon obtaining the necessary governmental approvals. This policy may help couple to deal with a lack of labour in the short term but when this additional population migrated to urban areas it will increase the problems overpopulation is causing.

Another example of the problems caused by the lack of population control is the severe lack of water in northern China. About 550 million people do not have enough water on a day to day basis. It was estimated that the lack of water cost the nation $35 billion in lost crops and cut backs in industrial production whereas floods only caused $20 billion in property damages. The Yellow River has been running dry every year and it was reported that farmers resorted to ripping off manhole covers to irrigate their dying crops with sewage as a last desperate attempt. Combined with the lack of land and the still-growing population, the lack of water would definitely force China to depend heavily on imported crops; this increase in demand could bring about a world-wide increase in grain prices.

The lack of land and water has called for an increase in production in China’s farms in an attempt to feed its people. To meet this growing demand, the use of chemicals in fertilisers and pesticides not only ruins the quality of the soil but also pollutes the drinking water supply. Another type of pollution due to population growth takes the form of domestic waste; a record 1.42 million tons of sewage was dumped by the cities in 1995.

Although China is experiencing a massive overpopulation problem some rural areas are experiencing problems due to a lack of labour. However a migratory trend back to the rural areas could spell disaster as the land does not have the carrying capacity to cater for massive populations. The affects a migration to the rural areas would be devastating for the environment, with the destruction of natural ecosystems and over exploitation of resources which could affect the survival of so many people in the future. In the case of China migration has not helped to create a balance between under and overpopulation as both rural and urban areas are experiencing severe problems.

Underpopulation is not always a problem though. For example Canada had a population of 25 million in the 1980’s and a population density of only 3 people per km. Canada has a GNP of 1920 per capita which is extremely high. Canada has developed industries, services, energy supplies, mineral resources and an effective transport network. The high levels of literacy and national wealth have enabled the country to develop it own technology and to import modern innovations. Canada could double it population and still maintain a high standard of living. Countries like Canada can export their surplus food, energy and resources resulting in more prosperous incomes and higher levels of technology. However if their was a greater population within the country consuming these surplus resources Canada would become more economically developed as there would be more people to generate more money for the country. It has low birth and death rates, which keep the population relatively stable.

It is easy to say that if there was a mass migration of people from China into Canada then both countries would benefit and an optimum population would be created for Canada while China would have the strain of it population relieved slightly. However you can’t guarantee that this will be the case. For example if the population in Canada did double due to migration then it may become very hard to conserve Canada’s resources and environment. You cannot pass judgement about a potential occurrence and it affects, as there are so many factors that can alter an anticipated situation. For example if a lot of Chinese people did emigrate to Canada then their different morals and traditions will determine the affect they have on an area.

At the moment there is more evidence that migration fails to create a balance but instead, there are many cases where population go from one extreme to the other which create massive problems. Take the situation with refugees. Thousand of refugees have fled Afghanistan following the current conflict, which had given neighbouring countries like Pakistan problems. They cannot be expected to just let massive numbers of people join a society otherwise there will be severe management problems. As a result aid agencies and the Pakistan government have set up temporary camps to keep the people close the border.

In the UK there has been underpopulation following the decline in “smokestack” industries due to the exhaustion of raw materials such as coal, iron, and steel. While these materials were being obtained small villages were initially set up to accommodate the miners. During the time it took for the resources to become exhausted the villages grew, however the workers found themselves unemployed and had to move out of the area in search of other jobs. The remaining population had been “abandoned” and services such as shops and school became derelict do to the reduction in population. So due to migration the source became derelict, as there were no longer sufficient beings to support the activities within the villages. The migration down to the south-east has created major underpopulation in areas in Scotland, Wales, the Midlands and the North of England. Such a loss of manpower to the south-east has prevented many areas within these parts developing into more prosperous regions.

It is virtually impossible for migration to create a balance between over and under population simple because of the rural to urban migratory trend in the world. In most LEDC’s there is virtually no migration from an urban area to a rural area so how can the overpopulated urban areas and underpopulated rural areas ever balance out. In MEDC’s there is a greater trend to move out of the city into rural areas, however people will not migrate in numbers to a particular area encountering underpopulation. People in MEDC’s have greater control and freedom to chose where they migrate to which is why like LEDC’s it is virtually impossible for a optimum population to occur. There is the potential for optimum populations to be created, however I cannot see how these can be obtained without law harsh law enforcement’s, which would inhibit peoples freedom within a country and breech human rights.

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