Demographic Transition and Socio-Economic Development in Malaysia elucidate the linkages between population and development, with particular reference to Malaysia. In Malaysia, the demographic transition of mortality and fertility from a high to a low level has resulted in a dramatic age structural shift, giving rise to a demographic dividend. Malaysia has put in place the various mechanisms in development planning to improve human capital. Consequently, Malaysia has done well to realize the demographic dividend in achieving rapid socio-economic development, which in turn affected the demographic processes.
Chapters 2 to 4 present an update of the demographic situation in Malaysia in terms of changes in the population structure, fertility, and mortality. Chapters 5 to 8 focus on the family, women, youths, and the older people in the context of socio-economic changes. The remaining three chapters analyze the linkages between demographic changes and human capital development, epidemiological transition, and environmental degradation.
Population and development are inextricably linked. Socio-economic development affects and is, in turn, affected by the demographic processes. Countries at a higher level of development tend to have low fertility and low rate of population growth, and these countries have taken measures to realize the demographic dividend resulting from demographic changes. It is well established that higher education, improved health status and standard of living, and women empowerment are associated with lower fertility and mortality.
On the other hand, less childbearing allows women to pursue their careers to contribute to family wellbeing and national development. The relationships between infant mortality and fertility provide another example of the reverse causality (or endogeneity) between population and development (National Research Council 1998). Lower infant mortality might induce lower fertility, but many studies have found that higher birth rates lead to higher infant and child mortality, due to the competing demand for feeding and care among the newborn.
The demographic transition from high to low levels of fertility and mortality in Malaysia occurred concurrently with rapid socio-economic development since independence in 1957. Like most countries that have Undergone the demographic transition, mortality decline preceded fertility decline. In the early post-independence period, Malaysia was poised to have a rapid rise in the fertility level as the large cohort of post-war baby boomers began their family formation. However, with socio-economic development and the availability of family planning services, fertility began its long term decline from about 6.5 children per woman in the 19605 to 1.8 in 2018.