What are the environmental implications of changing household sizes? A recent article by Mason Bradbury, M. Nils Peterson, and Jianguo Liu, published in Population and Environment, analyzes data from 213 countries over 400 years and finds the average number of occupants per home tends to decline as population grows. This dynamic, they write, indicates that accommodating housing could prove to be one of “the greatest environmental challenges of the twenty-first century.” As countries develop and urbanize, “according to convergence theory, household size decreases (often from greater than five to less than three).” Other cultural shifts, like increasing divorce rates, urban sprawl driven by rising affluence, decreasing numbers of multigenerational households, and larger houses (in the United States, homes more than doubled in size between 1950 and 2002, according to the article) compound the issue. As population growth continues in parts of the world, these trends pose critical questions for conservation and environmental sustainability, since “households are the end consumers of most natural resources and ecosystem services.”
›February 10, 2014 // By Schuyler Null
“What’s become clear to me on population is that it’s really a local issue,” said Andrew Revkin in an interview at the Wilson Center. “You get the impression, ‘Oh didn’t we solve that problem?’” And to some extent, demographic shifts around the world are largely heading in the direction people anticipated, with a leveling off mid-century. But “no one really knows what happens then,” he said. “All it takes is a tiny diversion of fertility rates and things could really grow or shrink.”
Compared to East Asia and Latin America, the “demographic transition” in Africa has been slower to date, prolonging periods of rapid growth and creating very youthful populations. But, explains David Canning in this week’s podcast, “the high level of fertility in Africa doesn’t seem to be something that is set in stone.”
Developing countries with youthful populations may have the opportunity to take advantage of a phenomenon called the “demographic dividend,” when a decline from high to low fertility rates leads to slower population growth and a large working age population. But “age structure alone isn’t going to make it happen,” says Jay Gribble of Abt Associates in this week’s podcast.
›September 10, 2013 // By Elizabeth Leahy Madsen
Population aging and decline are frequently described as a threat to countries’ economic development and social stability. Evocative language, such as “demographic winter” and “graying of the great powers,” portrays the serious consequences that many observers envision as fertility and growth rates decline and the elderly comprise a greater percentage of the population. These concerns reach around the globe, including in Africa, which has the lowest percentage of elderly among the world’s major regions.
As the United States approaches its 2014 deadline for military withdrawal from Afghanistan, one often overshadowed aspect of the conflict is the hard-won progress made by previously marginalized segments of the Afghan population, particularly women, girls, and young people.
Afghanistan has one of the highest proportions of young people in the world – many of whom have known only war. The median age of the population is 15.6 years old, the median age of marriage is 18, and half of mothers surveyed during a country-wide mortality survey had their first child when they were teenagers. [Video Below]
›May 9, 2013 // By Richard Cincotta
Once considered a model for Sahelian democracy, Mali’s liberal regime (assessed as “free” in Freedom House’s annual survey of democratic governance continuously from 2000 to 2011) virtually disintegrated in March 2012 when a group of junior army officers, frustrated by the central government’s half-hearted response to a rebellion in the state’s vast northern tier, found themselves – somewhat accidently – in control of the state.
›April 30, 2013 // By ECSP Staff
There has been quite a bit made in the media and in blogs about low birth rates in industrialized countries. Quite correctly, many people (and countries!) are concerned that unprecedented aging and a dearth of younger people are leading to serious pressure on national budgets from a rising burden of support for the elderly because of a declining group of tax-paying workers. But the situation is far from equal everywhere, and less is written about that.
Join the Conversation
- National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change Thursday, May 15, 2014
- Strengthening the Field: The Role of Demography in Responding to Climate Change Wednesday, May 14, 2014
- Increasing Resilience to Climate Change Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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