People on the Move

Dr Roger Cloet, Member, on 29 June 2004

© Roger Cloet, 2004

Dr Cloet has made extensive studies of the movement of people, their reasons and the numerous outcomes in changes of populations. Alongside these movements were internal changes in national populations arising from changing birth-rates, civil wars, political and religious changes and economic influences.

As an introduction, numerous graphs were shown for the changes over a fifty-year period in various European countries, between Europe as a whole and other major population groups such as the Middle East and India.

By this method the speaker illustrated how changes in populations both by migration and changing birth rates could only be understood and their effects evaluated by looking at movements over a period of time. Well-known examples were the UK 'baby-boom' after World War II and the growth of population in Ireland in the 1980s as the economic decline was reversed. Further afield, dramatic changes in population in different Middle Eastern countries over fifty ears were shown to link with wars and economic development.

The meeting discussed the implications for the UK at the present time and in relation to policies within the European Union There seemed to be no clear policy on immigration by either the Government or the major political parties, yet there were widespread concerns amongst many voters.

The average age of our population continues to rise with concerns about the effect of this on the health service. Some members thought it wrong that we poached medically trained staff from Third World countries.

Various efforts by Governments in different countries to influence these matters were discussed. France under De Gaulle had tried to raise the birth rate; Australia for a time had tried to increase immigration from the UK with the '£10 passage' scheme. The USA continued to encourage immigration from groups already represented in that country like the Irish.

If the meeting came to any global conclusion it was that Governments seemed to have only limited ability to control major changes, certainly in a democracy. Just looking at such changes at any one time was of limited value. Movements nearly always happened over a period, sometimes short, sometimes long.

Rodney Tye

The speaker's notes issued to the meeting.

People on the Move

Roger Cloet


How would we react if the number of people moving into, or out of, our neighbourhoods suddenly changed in large numbers? It is bound to affect tolerance levels. E. g. The possibly resulting housing shortage would affect the cost of everything and any scheme to provide accommodation would alter when and how our other perceived priorities would be satisfied. On the other hand having fewer people may lead to a loss of communal facilities such as schools, shops or earning opportunities.

The growth of populations and the changes in the population structure have undergone a series of sudden changes though our own have been on a comparatively lesser scale than most. It is remarkable how closely, and how quickly, social and economic upheavals are reflected in the population structures.

Most countries compile statistics of their populations although such data is not always readily accessible. We are much exercised by the influx of migrants though we do not have adequately reliable direct measurements of such 'incomers', or of those who leave our shores. Fortunately anyone who is interested in the changing distribution of people can consult one of the best sources of information, the US Bureau of the Census, International Data Base, It collates world wide data twice yearly and makes it freely available in computer compatible format. 2 0 The data base contains all existing current: and historical records both of the numbers of people, and their age and gender structures, from 1950 onwards with predictions to 2050. We can see how their population profiles have altered and compare population changes in the context of historical events. These data illustrate the effect of both the degree and the speed of social and economic change from one year to the next.