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Global Trends Quiz
Answer Key

World in the Balance homepage

Population Trends In the Developed World (7 questions)

1. c) none

No developed countries have above replacement-level fertility. The rate in the U.S.—2.0 children—is the highest in the developed world, but replacement level is actually 2.1 because not all children will live to adulthood. France's rate is 1.9, Italy's a mere 1.2. And for the entire developed world it is only 1.5. In contrast, the rate is 3.1 in the less developed world—or 3.5 if China is not included.

2. a) Japan

Baby girls born in Japan today have a life expectancy of 84 years—the highest in the world and nearly twice the 46 years for a girl born in Kenya. Life expectancy, a reflection of a nation's health and economy, is high throughout the developed world. Average life expectancy for both men and women is 76.

3. b) 1 out of 5

Roughly 240 million people, or 20 percent of the developed-world population, are 60 years or older. With declining birth rates and increasing longevity, this percentage will grow. By 2050, the ratio will be 1 in 3.

4. b) 20 percent

Only about 20 percent of older Americans live in extended-family settings—a drastic change from a century ago, when roughly 70 percent lived with their grown children and extended family.

5. a) 2.5

By 2035, the ratio will be roughly 2.5 to 1. The low ratio of taxpayers to retirees will have significant economic consequences. In the 1960s, when many entitlement programs were established, the ratio was closer to 7 to 1.

6. a) 31.9 percent

In his book Gray Dawn, Peterson calculates the payroll tax rate would need to be 31.9 percent to cover public pensions and health benefits—a crushing burden on future American workers. But it would be even more severe in Japan and Italy, where the tax rates would need to be 53.2 and 71.5 percent, respectively.

7. b) 11 percent

Roughly 11 percent of the U.S. population is foreign-born. Immigration accounts for almost a third of annual population growth and is why the U.S. does not face the dramatic population declines confronting other nations. Immigration may offer a solution to economic problems looming ahead for the developed world as well as offer relief to crowded, less developed countries.

Population Trends In the Developing World (8 questions)

1. c) 11.6 billion

Yes. The UNPD projects that in 2050 there will be a staggering 11.6 billion people in the developing world—12.8 billion in the entire world—if today's fertility rates remain constant. The more often cited projections—7.7 billion for the developing world and 8.9 billion overall—assume a decline in fertility.

2. b) 60 years

A baby born in India today has a life expectancy of 60 years—nearly two-thirds longer than in 1881. Such a sharp increase in life expectancy throughout the developing world in the mid-20th century gave rise to the population "explosion" of the latter half of the century. Today, throughout the developing world, life expectancy is 63 years.

3. b) decreased dramatically

Fertility has plummeted from 6.1 to 3.3, and if China is included, the decline is 6.2 to 2.9. Yet populations continue to skyrocket because of ever-increasing numbers of young people who are having babies—a phenomenon known as population momentum. In pockets of the developing world, fertility remains extremely high. In Niger, it has actually increased from 7.7 to 8 children.

4. a) smaller families

Educated women generally want smaller families and make better use of reproductive health services. As female education rises, fertility, population growth, and infant and child mortality fall, and family health improves. An educated mother is also more likely to insist on the education of all of her children, perpetuating a virtuous cycle.

5. b) 48 percent

In India, 48 percent of married women use contraception—many more than did a few decades ago. But in over 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, less than 10 percent of married women use modern contraceptive methods. In a few developing nations, such as Brazil and Thailand, contraceptive use nears 70 percent, largely due to government funding of family planning services.

6. c) 527,000

The World Health Organization estimates that 527,000 women in the developing world died in 2000 from maternal causes. Almost all of these deaths occurred in Africa and Asia; India alone suffered 136,000 deaths. The lifetime risk of maternal death is 1 in 61 for women in the developing world, 1 in 2,800 for women in more developed countries.

7. c) 1.6 billion

There are 1.6 billion people under age 15—more than a quarter of the world's population. In India alone there are roughly 550 million people under 25. Even if fertility rates decline sharply, the large numbers of young people in the developed world will fuel population growth.

8. b) 40 percent

Yes. Roughly 40 percent live in urban areas, compared with 76 percent in the developed world. But the developing world is becoming more urban; by 2030, nearly 60 percent of people may live in cities. With urbanization, consumption patterns may increasingly mirror those in the developed world—creating a potential host of environmental problems.

The Environmental Challenge (9 questions)

1. c) consumption

High levels of consumption of everything from freshwater to fossil fuels to kitchen gadgets is the greatest cause of environmental damage in more developed countries. These high consumption patterns also affect environments in the less developed world—putting pressure on natural resources and creating greenhouse gases and pollutants that know no national boundaries.

2. c) 15 times as much

In a single year each North American consumes roughly 230 gigajoules of energy, or the energy in 92 barrels of oil. This is twice as much as Europeans, eight times as much as Asians, and more than fifteen times as much as Africans.

3. a) 15 cars

In China there are only 15 cars for every thousand people in. In most developed nations there are more than 200, and in the U.S. there are nearly 600. But the passenger car market is growing dramatically in China. Somewhere around 2025, China will likely pass the U.S. as the world's largest auto market as well as the world's largest emitter of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

4. a) 23 percent

According to 1998 World Bank estimates, 23 percent of the world's population—more than a billion people—live on less than US$1 a day. And in nations like Ethiopia, more than 80 percent of people live at this level of poverty. Most poor people in the world rely on the land for subsistence and may suffer the most from environmental damage.

5. b) 70 percent

Even if consumption rates stay constant, population growth will lead humans to use 70 percent of Earth's annual available freshwater by 2025. And if consumption rates in developing countries increase to the current levels in developed nations, humans will use 90 percent. Water scarcity may increasingly become a cause of international conflict, particularly in water-scarce regions like the Middle East and North Africa.

6. c) 826 million people

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 826 million people are not getting enough food to lead healthy and active lives. Roughly 34 million children, women, and men are undernourished in the more developed world, but the vast majority—nearly 800 million—live in the developing world.

7. b) 958

On average, there were 958 people living in each square km. of Bangladesh. By 2050, population density in Bangladesh is expected to hit 1,768 people/km. And some regions, like Singapore, will have more than 7,000 people/km.

8. b) initially rise, but peak and decline

Pollution levels initially rise, but eventually peak and decline. Kuznets theorized that rising affluence plays a role: As a country gets richer, a middle-class develops and the more affluent population demands a cleaner environment. Older equipment is replaced by more expensive but cleaner technologies. England, the U.S., Germany, and Japan all followed this pattern.

9. c) It may be impossible to calculate.

There is no absolute figure. Recent estimates range from 1 to 2 billion people living in prosperity to 33 billion people fed on minimum rations. The pressure humans put on the environment depends on population, consumption, and technology. Both population and consumption are almost certain to rise. Less certain is whether new technologies will be developed, and adopted, to allow human beings to live sustainably.

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