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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Zero population growth

Zero population growth, sometimes abbreviated ZPG, is a condition of demographic balance where the number of people in a specified population neither grows nor declines, considered as a social aim .

The term is said to have been coined by American sociologist and demographer Kingsley Davis. It was in fact used earlier by George Stolnitz, who stated that the concept of a stationary population dated back to 1693. A mathematical description was given by Mirrlees.

In the long term, zero population growth can be achieved when the birth rate of a population equals the death rate, i.e. replacement level is met and rate is stable. Unstable rates can lead to drastic changes in population levels. (This ignores migration, which is valid for the planet as whole, but not necessarily for a nation.) A population that has been growing in the past will have a higher proportion of young people. As it is younger people who have children, there is large time lag between the point at which the birth rate falls below the death rate and the point at which the population stops rising . Conversely, a large elderly generation can be the result of an aging “baby boom”, but if that generation had failed to replace its population during its fertile years, the result is a subsequent “population bust”, or decrease in population, as that older generation dies off. This affect has been termed Birth dearth.

Zero population growth is often a goal of demographic planners and environmentalists who believe that reducing population growth is essential for the health of the ecosphere. Preserving cultural traditions and ethnic diversity is a factor for not allowing human populations levels or rates to fall too low. Achieving ZPG is difficult because a country's population growth is often determined by economic factors, incidence of poverty, natural disasters, disease, etc.

However, even if there is zero population growth, there may be changes in demographics of great importance to economic factors, such as changes in age distribution.

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