Population and demography are considered unpredictable by many scientists in this field. As stated in Dr. Eberstadt’s article, there are four demographic surprises occurring; the first one being fertility decline. This decline in the population in some countries is due to less number of births where childbearing patterns tends to vary from one country to another for various reasons. Such decline and variations can be noted as sub-replacement fertility. This means that if the current birth rates are constant, there will be a decline in population and eventual stabilization thus stopping the influx of immigrants. An example is a country like Norway and other Scandinavian countries in Europe, where governments tend to encourage their population to multiply by giving them incentives such as education payments and financial benefits. In effect, there will be a decrease in productivity and economic growth due to the declining population trends.
Another demographic surprise is gender imbalance. This is variation in terms of the ratio of male to females. This has been caused by many factors such as government law as in the case of China, a preference to male due to culture as in the case of India, and an increase in technology, which enables parents with choices to make decisions on the gender they prefer, leading to selective abortion. In sub-Saharan Africa where in some countries such as Somalia, there is a high gender imbalance due to aspects such as war, famine and diseases.There will be pressure exerted on one gender and in effect destroying institutions such as marriages and family.
Mortality rate is also another surprise, caused by many factors depending with the surrounding area. An example is the lack of proper health care services in the developing world thus leading to deaths of infants at childbirth or in their early stages of life.The society will tend to lose, in that there would be a much elderly population as compared to the young, thus a decrease in output productivity and lack of a sufficient labor force.
Finally, looking at America’s demographic exceptionalism, things will be and is different in regards to growth population and many other things. In the U.S, there is a “single tier” system funded and run by the private sector while in Europe; we see that most countries have a “two-tier” system where the private sector competes with taxpayer-funded network of hospitals. However, you can see that still the birth patterns in the U.S are much higher than in Europe. This best shows the notion driven by America’s demographic expectionalism. On looking at the relationship between this and the society we can see that in America, for instance, population will be relatively higher thus enough labor force and steady economic growth if all is held constant.
When looking at the views held by Eberstadt, in regards to the United States, I believe that some of the views that have been provided do apply. For instance, in the case of mortality, the views held by Eberstadt that with increased technology, better income, increased knowledge distribution and better economic development will eventually lead to a decline in mortality is true. It is worth noting that in the US when one has access to all the above mentioned, he/she will have a better chance of living longer as normal causes of death such as diseases can be cured or even prevented in the first place. This view applies when all factors are held constant and death is not caused by an unpreventable occurrence such as floods of hurricane Katrina. However, it is also worth noting that the small percentage of population that do not have adequate access to the stated factors have a lower mortality rate.
America’s demographic exceptionalism does apply emphatically. As there is a decline in population in countries around the world as years, go by, there is a somewhat relative balance in our population with some slight increases here and there. As noted in the article, this seems to be happening even though the population in Europe tend to have much more leisure time and income than us and thus should in effect have an emerging demography rather than a declining one.There are also some views that are held by Dr. Eberstadt, that I believe do not completely apply in the US, for instance, gender imbalance. There is a relative small gender difference in the US as compared to other countries preferably in East Asia (Glad, 2008). To be more specific, the ratio of male to female ranges from different age groups to settle at 1:047 at birth to 0:75 at 65 years and above. It can be argued that this imbalance is caused by some selective abortion, family balancing and rather than a preference to a certain gender as in the case of China and India. In regards to fertility decline, I believe that it also doesn’t apply to the US. In this country, there is a relative slow increase in population caused by high immigration, low mortality rate among other factors.
Looking to the future, with the decrease in population of Europe and Russia as noted from the article, we in the United States will have a much higher population. This being case we will definitely need to change our health system in order to cope up with the population explosion. Currently, we are ranked 37th in the world country list even though we spend the most on health care. Just to illustrate this, in the year 2000, the total cost spent was approximately 1.3 trillion dollars which is about 15% of the total our gross domestic product. In order for this to change, we should, first of all, enable access of healthcare services to every person, insured or not. By doing so we can then pursue the critical step of preventing diseases rather than looking for cures, which will, in turn, decrease the overall costs incurred through insurance and other means.
High costs being the factor that disrupts our healthcare system, I believe that we can also reduce such costs by changing our lifestyle and eating habits in order to live healthy. This is a practical solution in that it will reduce our use as Americans in quick fixes such as prescription drugs which tend to be expensive. The private companies running this sector will also benefit from this as a healthy population will lead to a reduction in claims on preventable diseases. These are just some of the changes needed in our healthcare system.Therefore with all these being said, we will be able to cope with all the challenges that will be presented in the future only if we solve our healthcare problems now and completely revamp the whole system in order to accommodate everyone.