Introduction: The Age Structure
A population comprises different people who are categorized into age groups. Various age groups are classified into different age structures that include young, youthful, transitional, and mature age structures. Statisticians display the character of a population based on age structures that are presented in pyramids.
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Pyramids that have broader bases show numbers of children. Starting from the bottom of the pyramid, the second and third levels show the number of youths and young adults respectively. Peaks of the pyramid elaborate on the numbers of elderly.
Pyramids of developing countries have broader bases and sharper peaks; hence, they depict a population whose age structure is young. In developed countries such as the United States of America and Germany, the pyramid bases are narrow and apexes are broader. The majority age group in these countries is between 45 to 60 years.
Age structure pyramids present population characteristics such as birth rates, mortality rates, long life expectancies, and aging population among others. A classic pyramid shows a young age structure that characterizes a speedy growing population. The growing population has a higher birthrate than any other age group.
A box pyramid demonstrates a steady and low infant mortality rate. However, it does not show growth rate since the birth and death rates cancel out. An upside down pyramid provides information about age structure that depicts a collapsing population, long life expectancy, and low birth rate (Madsen, Daumerie, and Hardee 1).
A country’s population plans majorly depends on distribution of age structure in a given time. Therefore, both positive and negative effects of population shifts should be taken into consideration.
Population changes adversely affect the economic status of a country. There should be a balance between the age and economic structures of a country to ensure fair distribution of resources. This essay provides an insight into age structure problems by examining population issues that relate to climate change, pollution, dependency ratios, wars and conflicts, governance, gender, and high living costs.
Climate Change and Pollution
High growth rate leads to higher population. This situation causes stress on the environment; hence, it triggers climate change. Countries that have poor family planning have higher numbers of young individuals who are unemployed. As a result, many of them engage in activities that result in deforestation. Population pressure also increases. Consequently, many people clear lands for settlement. This situation results in increased environmental pollution in due to overpopulation (Madsen, Daumerie, and Hardee 3).
Dependency Ratio in Developing Nations
Many countries in the developing world have a population structure that is dominated by the youthful generation. According to Madsen, Daumerie, and Hardee, this situation is caused by high birthrates and fertility rates. A problem of dependency is experienced because there are no resources to guarantee both the youths and adults employment opportunities. Working individuals encounter challenges due to dependency burden. The overall effect of this situation is deteriorated national economy (Madsen, Daumerie, and Hardee 2).
High dependency ratios lead to poor access to worthy education and training standards. Most of the youths are not able to attend tertiary colleges to acquire knowledge due to insufficient financial support by their families. In the end, the whole country experiences the effect of dependency (Madsen, Daumerie, and Hardee 2).
Experience of Wars and Conflicts
According to Madsen, Daumerie, and Hardee, developing counties have a young age structure of about 60-percent of the total population (4). In this age structure, most of the young individuals are below 35 years old. Due to unemployment, there is likelihood that such people will engage in persistent conflicts and crimes, especially in the developing nations.
Two thirds of the civil wars that have been experienced in countries such as Mali, Nigeria, Haiti, and Ivory Coast among others are linked to youth unemployment. As a result, youths are recruited to be militias to the existing rival governments (Madsen, Daumerie, and Hardee 2).
Madsen, Daumerie, and Hardee posit that there is a direct relationship between age structure and good governance (3). Many developing countries with young population have poor governance structures. Researchers reveal that only 13-percent of the countries with young people have mature democracy.
Cases of corruption, dictatorship, infringement of various rights, and freedoms are experienced in countries with young age structures. Although these nations have strived to achieve democracy, there are minimal chances of attaining a democratic system until a balanced age structure is realized (Madsen, Daumerie, and Hardee 2).
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Negativity Based on Gender
Developing nations have relatively low schooling standards. Girl child education in such countries is insufficient. Women in such nations do not get equal opportunities to schooling and employment. Healthcare services are also minimally accessible to women.
Inadequate education and poor accessibility to healthcare services contribute to uncontrolled birthrates amongst the young age groups. Advocacy for democracy and gender balancing in terms of roles, equity, and equality among others are poorly handled. As a result, countries experience issues that result from gender conflicts (Madsen, Daumerie, and Hardee 2).
High cost on importation and immigration of workforce
Most of the developed nations have an age structure that comprises a large percentage of old people who have reached the age of retirement. However, the numbers of experienced youths who are available take over their responsibilities at the workplaces are minimal.
This situation leads to shortage of labor in a country. Some countries such as China and Germany have been noted to import young adults to occupy positions that have been left vacant by retirees. To hire such labor, a country must incur expenses (Madsen, Daumerie, and Hardee 3).
Governments of developed nations have started to feel the effect of ageing. There is increased responsibility amongst individuals who belong to the working class since they have to take care of both the aged people and children.
However, governments are trying to address this problem by initiating programs that encourage parents to balance work and their families. Most governments have established employment agreements that are based on hours to ensure flexibility. Lastly yet importantly, ageing leads to low birthrate that translates to a collapsing population (Madsen, Daumerie, and Hardee 4).
The problem of age structure is depicted in both developed and developing nations. Primarily, the developing nations experience problems of wars and unemployment at higher rates. The impact of ageing, collapsing population, and costs of importing workforce is higher on developed countries.
It is important to realize the problems arising from age structure require holistic resolution programs and plans. For instance, family planning methods are being introduced in developing nations to curb issues of high birth rates. Education and training of youths has also been enhanced to increase labor.
Madsen, Elizabeth, B. Daumerie and K. Hardee. The effects of age structure on development. Policy and issue brief, 2010. PDF File.