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Is the Planet Full?$
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Ian Goldin

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199677771

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199677771.001.0001

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Demographic and Environmental Transitions

Demographic and Environmental Transitions

(p.61) 4 Demographic and Environmental Transitions
Is the Planet Full?

Sarah Harper

Oxford University Press

After exploring the prevailing ethical considerations, Chapter 4 provides perspectives on demographic transitions—particularly with regard to fertility rates, consumption, and environmental impact. It outlines how global demographics are changing and how the world population is becoming more urban, more mobile, and older. These changes are not uniform, though—fertility rates vary substantially, from 0.99 children per woman in Hong Kong to 7.19 per woman in Niger. Many of the outliers are scattered across sub-Saharan Africa, where the ‘demographic transition’ toward replacement-level fertility rates has stalled. This chapter argues that the key to lower fertility rates is lower child mortality, access to family planning, and women’s empowerment through education. Climate change, however, accentuates the problems associated with high fertility and the chapter observes more rapid progress with the demographic transition as a key element in addressing the devastating impact of climate change, particularly in the lowest-income countries.

Keywords:   demographic transition, fertility, education, empowerment of women, sub-Saharan Africa, climate change

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