Demographic transition is an economic theoretical framework that shows the relationship between economic, educational status and healthcare progress in a particular country (Shepard, 2010). The demographic transition phases as identified by demographic scholars are distinctly four. This paper will outline the four stages and describe the differences in living and environmental conditions that are evident in every stage.
Stages of the Demographic Transition Model
The first stage is characterized by a balance between the birth and death rates. This is thus a highly stationary stage of population growth. Population growth at this stage is very low. Death rates are very high as is the case with birth rates. Shepard (2010) notes that high death rate is as a result of poor healthcare facilities and services offered at this stage. Occasional occurrences of food insecurity, poor hygiene and sanitation further contribute to the overall high mortality rates at this stage. High fertility rates is caused by inaccessible family planning services, high infant and child mortality rates that make women sire more children as security against death and having many children are considered cheap source of labor for agricultural production (Galor, 2012).
The second phase is characterized by a decline in mortality rates, but fertility rates remain relatively higher. As a result of the differences in mortality and fertility rates, this phase registers a relative increase in population. The decline in death rates in this phase is as a result of better healthcare facilities. Galor (2012) observes that food insecurity and famine that contributed to high mortality rates initially are no longer a crisis. Infant mortality at this stage has also generally declined as a result of increasingly accessible medical services through infrastructural development. However, the fertility rates remain high as family planning services are still not very accessible and some religious and economic perceptions about family size remain unaltered (Shepard, 2010).
The third phase of demographic transition model shows the onset of decline in birth rates as death rates continue to fall. On average the population is still growing, albeit marginally. The crude birth rates decline since family planning services are becoming increasingly accessible, child and infant mortality rates have also declined. Teller & Haielemariam (2011) cited that the standard of living also increases at this stage even as women become more economically empowered and independent. Increased urbanization also eradicates the traditional perceptions and attitudes attached to the number of children in a household (Galor, 2012). The death rates also continue to decline as medical services are improved and food security becomes the focus of the states at this stage. Public health and sanitation is given priority and thus mortality rates decline due to improved medical and health services.
Phase four of the demographic transition model is also called the low fluctuating stage. During this stage both the death and birth rates remain low since death and birth rates are equal or only have marginal differences. There are better medical and health services and accessibility of the health facilities and services is possible thus reducing mortality rates. Technology has greatly enhanced the quality and quantity of food produced in the countries. Women access education and actively use family planning services and methods available (Shepard, 2010).
Comparing the Living and Environmental Conditions in the Developed and Developing Countries
Developed countries have better health services and facilities as compared to the developing countries. Besides, the infrastructural networks of the developed countries have improved the living conditions of the countries. This enhances supply of clean water that further contributes to improved hygiene and public sanitation in the developed countries as opposed to the developing countries (Shepard, 2010). The mortality rates in the developed countries in phase four are thus lower than the mortality rates in the developing countries.
The developed countries have heavily invested in science and technology. As a result they have modern methods of food production and storage that enables them to address the problem of food shortage. As a result, the populations in the developing countries still die of high levels of food insecurity and other diseases that are preventable and treatable such as malaria, cholera and malnutrition (Sharma, 1997). The literacy levels are also very high in the developed countries in phase four of demographic transition. Modernization, science and technology have promoted the use family planning methods. The fertility rates are thus very low as opposed to the developing countries.
Recommended Programs for the Progression of Developing Countries to Stage Four
The developing countries must focus on improving medical and health services. This initiative must begin with establishment of healthcare facilities, supplying the relevant modern medical accessories and ensuring the facilities are staffed with professionals (Sharma, 1997). The healthcare services provided should be made accessible through effective infrastructural development but also made very affordable to the population. This will effectively lower the high mortality rates in the developing countries that are partly caused by poor medical and healthcare facilities and services.
Education and awareness creation for women and the entire population in the developing countries will enhance its progression. This will increase the literacy levels in these countries that remain largely low (Sharma, 1997). With improved awareness and education, women will be empowered and will be independent thus having control over the family sizes they want to have. It is this that will ensure that the family planning methods are introduced and positively embraced by women exposed to the risk of conception. The family planning methods introduced at this stage will thus be very effective in lowering the birth/fertility rates in the developing countries.
Various countries are at different stages of the demographic transition. This is because of the differences in accessibility of healthcare services, infrastructural development and public sanitation and hygiene. The countries in the post-industrial stage thus have very low fertility and mortality rates. The developing countries can therefore progress towards the fourth stage of the demographic transition through investment in the programs that directly or indirectly determine population sizes.