By Vernon Ruttan
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Additional info for Agriculture, Environment, and Health: Sustainable Development in the 21st Century
There are two reasons why Malthusian concern may be of some relevance today. First, the plausible growth rates of population and incomes in the coming decades require demands to grow at very rapid rates. Annual additions to productions in absolute as well as in percentage terms will be large. It is questionable whether or not the rate of induced innovations will be sufficient to meet these demands. Second, the carrying capacity of the environment has become a scarce natural resource. It is likely to impose significant constraints on the techniques of production that may be adopted.
Using trends for making long-term projections is quite unsatisfactory. It may as easily pro-vide a message of gloom and doom as it may create a false sense of security. Future demand projections are useful for a number of reasons. First, they help target the problem and provide a feel for the magnitude of the problem. Second, they help to bound the problem. Bounds are important since there are many uncertainties in any future projection. Third, a surprise scenario that speaks gloom and doom also stimulates imagination.
Population Projections Typical models of population projections start from a given population with its age and sex composition, and age-specific fertility and mortality rates, and use these to project consistent future population. Since the vital rates are stable and change only gradually over time, for short-term or medium-term (less than 30 years) projections, a method that accounts for some demographic inertia yields fairly good projections and is preferred over crude trend projections. However, for longer-term projections one would need to assume age-specific fertility and mortality rates.