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Natural Population Growth or Decline in China, Europe, USA and India: 1950-2100

Source: United Nations, Department of Social and Economic Affairs, Population Division: World Population Prospects, The 2010 Revision. New York, 2011 (www.unpopulation.org)
Note: Europe (48) see Glossary

Natural population growth or decline is the change of population in the absence of migration (however, children of migrants, who are already in the country, are included). The natural population growth or decline is equivalent to the total number of births minus the total number of deaths in a given period. In contrast to the Net-Reproduction-Rate (NRR) natural population growth does not eliminate the "momentum effect". If a country has a large number of parents it may have a large number of births, even if the fertility (that is the number of children per women) is already very low.

The figure above displays the natural population change for China, Europe, the United States of America and India between the five-year period of 1950-55 and 2095-2100, according to the most recent United Nations World Population Prospects. In the current five-year periods of 2005 to 2010 Europe has a natural population decline of about 1.6 million people. India, China and the United States, on the other hand, still have an excess of births over deaths and therefore natural population growth. India still has an excess of births over death of some 86 million in the 5-year period of 2005-2010. China is growing by more than 36 million and the United States of America has a natural population increase of about 8.6 million over that 5-year period.

To understand these numbers correctly one has to consider the age structure of these populations. China and the United States of America still have natural population growth, because these countries have a relatively large number of (potential) parents. This age-structure effect boosts births, despite the fact that fertility is already below or close to the reproductive level in both countries. Without the unusually large number of (potential) parents, both countries would experience natural population decline. Demographers can eliminate these age-structure effects by calculating Net Reproduction Rates, which indicate that the United States and China actually have intrinsically declining population. (See figure on NRR)

By eliminating age structure effects, Europe would have a much larger natural population decline than is actually observed. The still relatively large number of (potential) parents from the baby-boom generations is "artificially" boosting the number of births in Europe. With the following much smaller parent cohorts natural population decline in Europe will be much stronger (See figure on NRR). In fact. Europe's population is projected to decline for the rest of the century - even assuming that the total fertility rate (that is the number of children per women) will increase towards the reproductive level of 2.1. This is caused by an opposite momentum effect, which reduces the number of births even with increasing fertility as a result of shrinking (potential) parent cohorts.

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This section was updated on 11 June 2011.

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Copyright 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Gerhard K. Heilig. All rights reserved.

china-profile.com - 18 April 2012