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South East Asian Modern Population Dynamics

South East Asian Modern Population Dynamics - Southeast...

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Southeast Asian Modern Population Dynamics Gayl D. Ness October 2009 Asian Studies 501 Modern Population Dynamics The modern population dynamics of a country or region can reveal a great deal about the challenges it faces, the successes or failures it has had in sustaining human life, and much about its general social organization. 1 The term modern population dynamics implies a specific set of changing population conditions. Those changing conditions include three fundamental and highly interlinked transitions, which define what we now call modernization. Demographic Transition: from high to low birth and death rates; Urban Transition: from rural to urban living for the majority of the population; Industrial Transition: from agriculture to manufacturing and services as the source of wealth and employment. These transitions began in the West after 1700 and by 1950 had completely changed Western 2 nations from rural-agrarian to urban industrial societies. All those transitions are now occurring in the rest of the world, including Southeast Asia. For reasons that are fairly well understood, those transitions in the West moved rather slowly and involved relatively small populations. Today these transitions, especially in Asia and also for reasons that are fairly well understood, are moving much more rapidly and involve much larger populations. For example, the European transitions took some 250 years, and involved a population that went from 120 to 527 million (Ness 1993). Those same transitions will occur in most of Asia in the century from 1950 to 2050 and will involve a population that will grow from 1.4 to 5.2 billion (UN 2004) 3 . From my perspective the demographic transition is a major underlying driving force, thus it will be explained in some detail. As we shall see, this transition implies considerable successes for societies, but it also raises a series of challenges. Moreover, the successes and challenges vary considerably with the speed of the transition. And that speed is very much a result of the type of social system in which it is occurring. It is thus that an examination of the demographic transition can revel a great deal about the broad social conditions of a region or a country. Finally, when that region experiences considerable variance across countries in the speed of the transition, as is certainly the case in 1 . By this I mean the entire social, political, cultural and economic condition of the area. 2 . The entire North Atlantic Community of Europe and North America, plus Australia, New Zealand and Japan, as the only non-western society to make this transition in the first phase 3 . Unless otherwise noted, the demographic data used here are from the basic United Nations source, UN 2004. This provides an excellent set of population data for all countries and regions of the world in 5 year increments from 1950 to 2050.
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Southeast Asia, we get an additional insight in social systems from a comparative analysis.
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