They provide the principal form of support for the parents in their old age, and, with high mortality, many children must be born to ensure that some will survive to take care of their parents. On the other hand, in an urban industrialized society, children are less of an economic asset and more of an economic burden. Among the social factors that might account for the change in attitude is the decline in the importance of the family as an economic unit that has accompanied the industrialization and a Annual Vital Rates (par 1000 population 45 A specific example will clarify this point. If the birth rate in India is not reduced, its population will probably double in the next 25 or 30 years, increasing from about 450 million to about 900 million. Agricultural experts consider it feasible within achievable limits of capital investment to accomplish a doubling of Indian agricultural output within the next 20 to 25 years. In the same period the output of the non-agricultural part of the Indian economy probably would be slightly more than doubled if the birth rate remained unchanged. Birth Rate 40 Page 18 41940-60) modernization. The death rate in Ceylon was cut in half in less than a decade, and declines approaching this in rapidity are almost commonplace. The result of a precipitous decline in mortality while the birth rate remains essentially unchanged is, of course, a very rapid acceleration in population growth, reaching rates of three to three and one-half per cent. Mexico’s population, for example, has grown in recent years at a rate of approximately three and one-half per cent a year. This extreme rate is undoubtedly due to temporary factors and would stabilize at not more than three per cent. But even at three per cent per year, two centuries would see the population of Mexico grow to about 13.5 billion people. Two centuries is a long time, however.
Might we not expect that long before 200 years had passed the population of Mexico would have responded to modernization, as did the populations of western Europe, by reducing the birth rate? A positive answer might suggest that organized educational efforts to reduce the birth rate are not necessary. But there is a more immediate problem demanding solution in much less than two centuries: Is the current demographic situation in the less-developed countries impeding the process of modernization itself? If so, a course of action that would directly accelerate the decline in fertility becomes an important part of the whole development effort which is directed toward improving the quality of each individual’s life. POPULATION TRENDS AND THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF PRE-INDUSTRIAL COUNTRIES 35 30 Death Rate 25 20 For a generation at least, then, India’s economic output probably can stay ahead of its maximum rate of population increase. This bare excess over the increase in population, however, is scarcely a satisfactory outcome of India’s struggle to achieve economic betterment. The real question is: Could India and the other less-developed areas of the world do substantially better if their birth rates and thus their population growth rates were reduced? Economic analysis clearly indicates that the answer is yes. Any growth of population adds to the rate of increase of national output that must be achieved in order to increase per capita output by any given amount. To double per capita output in 30 years requires an annual increase in per capita output of 2.3 per cent; if population growth is three per cent a year, then the annual increase in national output must be raised to 5.3 per cent to achieve the desired level of economic growth. In either instance an economy, to grow, must divert effort and resources from producing for current consumption to the enhancement of future productivity. In other words, to grow faster an economy must raise its level of net investment.
Net investment is investment in factories, roads, irrigation networks, and fertilizer plants, and also in education and training. The low-income countries find it difficult to mobilize resources for these purposes for three reasons: The pressure to use all available resources for current consumption is great, rapid population growth adds very substantially to the investment targets that must be met to achieve any given rate of increase in material well-being; and the very high proportions of children that result from high fertility demand that a larger portion of national output must be used to support a very large number of non-earning dependents. These dependents create pressure to produce for immediate consumption only. In individual terms, the family with Jaree number of children finds it more difficult to save, and a government that tries to finance development expenditures out of taxes can expect less support from a population with many children. Moreover, rapid population growth and a heavy burden of child dependency divert investment funds to less productive uses-that is, less productive in the long run. To achieve a given level of literacy in a population much more must be spent on schools. In an expanding population of large families, construction effort must go into housing rather than into factories or power plants. 15 10 Time Future The combination of high birth rates and low or rapidly declining death rates now found in the less- developed countries implies two different characteristics of the population that have important impli- cations for the pace of their economic development.
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