Human Geography, Interactive Study Questions: Chapter 05

Click on each question to check your answer.

1. How did China’s one child policy skew the sex structure of China’s population and why?

The 2000 census data showed a ratio of 118 males to 100 females in China. In Chinese culture, as a son is responsible for the family after marriage, and a daughter is only responsible for the family until marriage, sons are generally favoured. When the one child policy was enacted, more female foetuses were aborted, and infanticide—neglect and malnourishment towards female babies—occurred.

2. What were some key problems with and criticisms of Malthus’ argument that “population growth will always create stress on the means of subsistence”?

First, the rates at which Malthus estimated the growth of food production and population growth were criticized as there was not accurate scientific support for his theory. History has shown that Malthus did not consider the widespread use of contraception or the use of agricultural technologies to increase crop output, thereby changing the relationship between population and food resources.

3. Are population projections accurate? Explain why or why not.

In the past, populations have been very difficult to project. For example, early projections estimated 2.4 billion people on the planet by 2100, another prediction was of 3 billion people by 2000, whereas, in 2008 there were 6.8 billion people. Population growth is difficult to predict because the variety of factors affecting populations differ depending on region, growth rates are uneven spatially, and some factors, such as culture, are difficult to predict. Current population projections give ranges of high, medium, and low to show the possible population range.

4. Why is the spread of AIDS in various parts of the world being referred to as a “pandemic”?

The spread of AIDS has been relatively rapid in some parts of the world, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, and is now rapidly spreading in Russia and parts of Asia. In 1990, the rate of infection of the population in South Africa was 1 per cent, but by 2006 it was 22 per cent. It is estimated that over 20 million people have died of AIDS. In part, this is due to difficulty of intervention, conflicting information concerning interventions, and lack of economic resources to provide health services. Due to these very large impacts, the spread of AIDS is referred to as a pandemic.

5. Why is fertility declining in the developed world?

Women have higher rates of university- or college-level education, have become more integrated into the workforce, and are more likely to delay childbirth—there is also a rising preference for single-child families. In Eastern Germany, the rate of fertility is low enough that women are essentially not having children; it is thought that this is related to the large cultural and economic shift from communism to capitalism. A similar situation is occurring in other post-communist countries, such as Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and Estonia, and Russia. In Russia, it is thought that population decline is also related to economic decline.