VIVID ESTIMATES: 4 MILLION IN 2036!
Other Changes Turning England Topsy-Turvy " It is unpalatable, and let us hope misleading, to reflect that what Tunbridge Wells thinks to-day England will think tomorrow: but so far as age-composition determines attitudes the prospect seems inescapable." With these words the P E P or "Political and Economic Planning Group " epitomises one startling conclusion of its latest researches on the population question.
Half Over Forty Pt other words the tiation is growing older. In 1901 there were three people under forty to every one r hove. Now the proportion is less than two to one. In 1901 children under fifteen made 321 per cent. of the population; in 1934 they made only 231 per cent. The proportion under fifteen, it is estimated, will have fallen to about 161 per cent. by 1980, and by then more than half will be over forty. According to another estimate this stage will have been reached by 1956.
This decline will be accompanied by changes in the age and occupational structure of our population so great as to affect our policy as regards employment, marketing, education, government and many other activities.
In the case of children under fifteen the decline is already in full swing, and has made itself felt among education authorities and among manufacturers of children's goods, such as baby powder and perambulators. On the other hand. much of the surprising buoyancy of the home market during the past few years has coincided with the increase in numbers of adults, which has been much more rapid than the general population increase suggests. The British market of the future, with its swelling numbers of elderly people and its dwindling numbers of children, will be different from anything known in the past.
Birth-Rate must be Increased Absolute changes in the population are variously estimated, but all estimates give startling declines because they all assume that there will be no rise in fertility. The population can Only be maintained if on an average all its members who live to maturity produce at least two children who live to maturity. Since 1926 the birth and survival rates have not been high enough to fulfil this condition. Unless these are raised the population must fall; and as soon as the numbers of people at the age of parenthood begins to diminish the effect will be cumulative.
The estimated population of England and Wales for 1935 was 40,645,000. By 1975 it is expected to fall within the extreme limits of 36 millions and 281 millions, and by 2035 it will have fallen to between 331 millions and 20 millions. One startling estimate, based on the assumption that fertility and mortality rates follow the trend of the last decade, is that within a century the population of the whole of England and Wales will only equal the present population of the country of London, i.e., about four millions.
Among other interesting conclusions are the following : The female labour force is likely to dwindle unless women refuse to marry and have children.
Juvenile labour will be scarcer in future—even now this is becoming noticeable in the factories of Greater London. At present it is the "distressed areas" which contain the largest proportion of children—hardly an ideal arrangement, as the report comments.
Expectation of life is markedly higher in the country than in the towns, for males, but not so markedly for females. It is alto higher in the South than in the North for both sexes.