Population & Resources

By Alex Jackson

Last updated on

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The content on this page is extremely old. Much has changed in the world since this article was written. While many of the concepts will still be relevant, figures and case studies are likely to be outdated at this point.

Key Terms

  • Resources - Any part of the environment that can be used to meet human needs.
  • Overpopulation - When too many people in an area relative to the amount of resources available and the level of technology available to maintain a high standard of living.
  • Underpopulation - When there are too few people in an area to use the resources available efficiently for a given level of technology.
  • Optimum Population - The theoretical population which, working with all the available resources, will produce the highest standard of living for the people of that area.
  • Carrying Capacity - The number of individuals who can be supported in a given area with in natural resource limits and without degrading the natural, social, cultural and economic environment for present and future generations.

The Balance Between Population and Resources

Predicted Population Changes In The UK

The ratio of people aged 65+ to the number of people aged 20-64 will rise from 27% in 2001 to 48% in 2050. Furthermore, the average male life expectancy will rise to 86.7 years. The female life expectancy will also rise but not as quickly. The current1 fertility rate of 1.7 women per children will increase to 1.75 by 2025 and then level off.

Ageing & Health

Ageing populations increase pressure on healthcare systems. Average health costs rise with age but the costs of this trend could be offset by people becoming healthier. Health care costs tend to be compressed2 in the last years or months of life.

Ageing & Pensions

State pension systems transfer resources from the current generation of workers into the current generation of pensioners but this system can’t be sustained in the future.

Options for Change:

  • Pensioners become poorer relative to the rest of society.
  • Taxes and national insurance contributions increase.
  • The rate at which individuals save for retirement increases.
  • Increase the average retirement age.

The Pension Act Of 2007 (UK)

  • Pension age will be equalised at 65 for both men and women between 2010 and 2020.
  • It will be raised to 68 between 2024 and 2046.

“Grey Vote”

The voting power of old people will increase and the needs of the elderly can’t be ignored by politicians.

“Grey Pound”

Economic purchasing power is also increasing and is beneficial to companies providing specialist goods and services to the elderly.

Ageing & Housing

  • Segregation based on age can be seen in a number of ways in UK towns and cities. Some council estates include purpose build bungalows or maisonettes with security access allowing the elderly to live in the community as long as they are able to.
  • Sheltered accommodation is a complex of flats or units with some shared facilities overseen by a warden or manager.
  • Nursing homes have increased in number to cater for the elderly who have difficulty looking after themselves. They are often found in both inner and outer suburbs.

Youthful Populations

Population pyramids of youthful populations have wide bases indicating a high fertility rate and a large proportion of youthful people. The pyramid has a tapering top indicating either, a) a high mortality rate or b) a large amount of outwards migration. The pyramid has a narrow apex showing that there is a small proportion of elderly people.

How Does Iran Reflect This?

Iran has a narrowing apex, with few people living in the country being older than 80, suggesting a high death rate or high outwards migration rate. Iran’s population pyramid also has a wide base showing that there is a large number of youths however this has narrowed over the years showing a reduction in the number of youths. This could potentially be due to the outwards migration of young, fertile couples, due to changes in the social perception of large families or due to changes in health care in Iran.

  1. In 2011
  2. This is known as compression of morbidity.