I feel that the biggest challenge countries face due population growth is satisfying the increased demand for essential resources like food, housing and energy. Many countries have destroyed their forests in order to expand cities or to convert them into agricultural land. This has adversely affected the regulating and supporting functions of the ecosystem by destroying the habitat of the local flora and fauna. This has also reduced the provisioning functions of the ecosystem, as vegetation provides us with raw materials and plays an important role in the water purification process.
I have chosen to study the population growth of Germany. Germany’s population count has been noticeably affected by immigration and territorial changes to its borders after major historical events like the unification of Germany in 1871, the two World Wars and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Germany suffered many casualties and lost a lot of territory during the World Wars. The wars, combined with the depression that followed them, caused a drop in both the population and the birth rate. However, the West German economy recovered well after World War 2 and immigration from East Germany, Poland and other communist nations help the population recover. (Eric Solsten 1995).
However, the population growth trajectory over the last three decades has been a little different. As shown by the animated population pyramid, the German population has been ageing and the proportion of adults in the age group of 60-100 years is projected to increase. Additionally, the overall population has been and is projected to decrease over the next half century or so. This is due to a steadily decreasing birth rate in Germany. (Federal Statistics Office 2015)
The government can play a major role in affecting population growth, primarily through tax incentives, immigration policy and Government sponsored media. In the past, the government of East Germany aggressively promoted having more children at a younger age by subsidizing childcare services and providing them with tax benefits. This method had limited success. Germany has also been encouraging skilled immigration for the past few decades, which has certainly helped sustain the population count. (Eric Solsten 1995)
The German economy also played a big role in population growth. After the two world wars, when the economy was in a poor state, the population growth rates dropped as well. Under the communist regime in East Germany, the economic struggles were a major reason for mass emigration to capitalist West Germany. The strength of the West German economy led to better standards of living and attracted citizens of East Germany.
Religion can also have a big impact on population growth. Religion usually drives legislation regarding things like abortions, access to contraception etc. If cultural norms dictated that women should get married early or should prioritize having children over their careers, then these norms would also impact population growth.
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