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THREE DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITIONS

Aris  Ananta

Mletiko, 25 January, 2013

The word “demographic transition’ was first coined by a French demographer, Adolphe Landry, in the seminal publication  La Revolution Demographique, published in 1934. The theory of demographic transition was then reformulated  by an American demographer, Frank W. Notestein during 1945-1953. Kingsley David joined this work in establishing the foundation of the theory of demographic transition.

In essence, the theory of demographic transition attempts to describe a general pattern of demographic changes a country may experience. It states that initially a country experiences a level of demographic equilibrium (with very low population growth or no growth at all) because of both high fertility and mortality rates. Then, mortality and fertility decline. Finally, mortality and fertility will be very low. Again, at this stage, population growth is very low. This process, from high fertility and mortality rates to low fertility and mortality rates,  is  called as the demographic transition.

The real process may not be as smooth as described by this theory. Critics say that this is not a theory since it does not provide any sufficient explanation for the causes of the transition. Some say that “demographic transition” may not be a “theory”, but it is a way to describe demographic changes because of declining fertility and mortality rates.

One  weakness of this “demographic transition” is that it has not discussed change in population mobility. Then, in 1970s  Zelinsky  examined stages of internal population mobility (mobility within a country).  Skeldon in 1990  improved Zelinsky’s concept. However, both Zelinsky and Skeldon only briefly examined international population mobility and its connection with the stages of internal population mobility. Others, such as Stahl and Appleyard, in 1990s,  developed a separate theory of  stages of international population mobility. This framework relates changes in international population mobility to international movement of capital. It is unfortunate that there has been no  result of putting the demographic transition, internal population mobility transition, and international population mobility transition into one unifying framework.

Meanwhile, in 1980s, Van de Kaa  created another terminology “the second demographic transition”. He refers the “demographic transition” pioneered by Landry and reformulated by Notestein and David, the one we usually hear,  as “the first demographic transition”. Van De Kaa described  replacement level fertility and mortality (with TFR at about 2.1) as the end of the first demographic transition. After that, when fertility and mortality levels are below replacement level, the population is in the second demographic transition. Fertility level is usually fluctuating.  During this period, there will be new norms regarding individual behaviour and family. Social norm will shift to the appreciation of individual aspiration and needs.

At the national level, Indonesia almost completes the first demographic transition. But, some provinces have completed the first demographic transition and have been in the second demographic transition.

During the second demographic transition, with an intense inter-relationship between ageing and migration, we have the another  demographic transition. Colement (2006) called this as the “third demographic transition”.  This is related to a fast change in ethnic composition because of rising population mobility, particularly the inflow of different ethnic and religious groups. The fast change in ethnic composition in a given population may create social, economic, and political conflicts.   Indonesia has seen this phenomenon too. *

 

Filed under: Demography, English, international migration, migration, statistics,

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