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INTERNATIONAL DEMOGRAPHICS. 1986 Sep; 5(9):1-8.Focus in this discussion of Belgium is on: cities and regions, population change, households and families, labor force, consumption, communication and transport, and sources of information. Belgium was created in 1830 as a constitutional monarch and buffer state amidst great European powers. Its constitution creating a parliamentary system of government has served as a model for many emerging democracies. Unemployment dropped from more than 14% in 1984 to just over 12% in the 1st quarter of 1986. Belgium also is experiencing a somewhat improved balance of payments and respectable overall economic growth of around 2.5% through the 1st half of 1986 along with close trading links and minimum customs formalities with Luxembourg and Holland. Yet, wages lag behind inflation after the last government suspended an index system that mandated automatic income adjustments in line with the cost of living. In 1983, for the 1st time since the country's economic boom of the 1960s, purchasing power for the average Belgium declined. About 90% of Belgium's estimated 9,880,000 inhabitants live in cities and towns ranging over a territory of only 30,518 KM. Administratively, the region of Flanders has 5 provinces, Wallonia, 4. Regions are further broken down into arrondissements and communes. Belgium's under replacement level birth rate is expected to decline further, and its proportion of elderly persons in the total population is expected to rise, straining even further an already overburdened system of social security and health care. Belgium's 10-year intercensal population gain (between 1971-81) was the smallest in the country's history. Belgium's total population stood at 9,853,023 on January 1, 1984, a decline of almost 5000 from the preceding year. Belgium's average household size is decreasing due to a larger aged population, an upsurge in divorces and unmarried young couples, and a declining birth rate. About 1/3 of the population works. At mid-1984, the figure stood at 3,638,000. The service sector generates more than half the country's jobs. The largest share of household consumption in 1983 was on food, at 18.6%.
International Demographics. 1985 Dec; 4(12):1-4.This discussion of the Netherlands covers the country's cities and regions, population growth, households and families, housing, contruction, and spatial planning; ethnicity and religion; education; labor force and income; consumption; and transport and communications. As a small and mineral poor nation with a seafaring tradition, the Netherlands survives on foreign trade. In 1983, total export earnings amounted to nearly 62% of the entire national income. Over 72% of Dutch exports go to other member countries of the European Economic Community (EEC), but imports are more diversified, with 47% originating outside the EEC. Since 1848, the Netherlands has been a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary form of government. As such, it is one of the most stable democracies in the world. The main administrative units are the 11 provinces, of which Noord-Holland and Zuid-Holland are the most populous and economically most important. Amsterdam remains the commercial center of the country, but its role as the principal port city has been taken over by Rotterdam. No community has more than 700,000 inhabitants, but the country as a whole is highly urbanized because of the large numbers of medium-sized cities. In 1983 the population of the Netherlands totaled 14.34 million, compared to 5.10 million at the turn of the century. In 1965, the total fertility rate was 3.0. The death rate has virtually stabilized at 8/1000. The Dutch life expectancy stands at 72.7 years for men and 79.4 for women (1983). Natural increase has already dropped to 0.4% a year. Apart from the slight impact of net immigration, the positive growth rate reflects the large proportion (53%) of the population in its reproductive years. Mean household sizes in the 11 provinces vary from 2.5 in Noord-Holland (in 1981) to nearly 3 in Overijssel and Noord-Brabant, whereas the proportion of 1 person households ranges from 16% in Drenthe and 17% in the somewhat traditionalist southern provinces of Limburg and Noord-Brabant to 27% in Noord-Holland and 28% in Groningen. Only 26% of the Dutch own their own homes. The Netherlands has historically been a nation of little ethnic, religious, or cultural conflict. The central government finances education at all levels, making education and science the 2nd largest budget item (19%), preceded only by welare and social policy (22%). In 1983 the economically active population consisted of 3.8 million men and nearly 2 million women.