Critique of the Demographic Transition Model

Notes on usefulness of Demographic Transition Model.

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Kirsty Watret12.404/10/2012
Critique of the Demographic Transition Model
Background of model
The Demographic Transition Model was created by Warren Thompson in 1929 to try and explain why
most industrialised countries shared a similar pattern of population growth. He also wanted some way
of explaining imbalances between population and resources. His model is set out in 4 different stages:
stage 1 has high birth and death rates, stage 2 has a decline in death rates, but high birth rates, stage 3
experiences a decline in birth rates, and stage 4 where birth and death rates have levelled out. Warren
Thompson based his ideas on the transition of many European countries, such as the UK.
The changes and reasons for changes that occur throughout the 4 stages of the model
The first stage of the demographic transition model has high fluctuating birth and death rates which
causes a very small yet fairly stable population. Stage 1 is quite out of date and is no longer really
experienced by any countries as most countries in the world, apart from remote tribal groups, are
developed enough to be at least stage 2. Stage2 is where a country begins to industrialise and
sanitation and health begins to increase therefore the death rate decreases, however, the majority of
the population at this stage is still having large families as they are still adjusting to the fact that if
healthcare has improved then it is more likely that their child will survive into adulthood, and they don't
need to have as many children to balance out the death rate. At this stage in a population's growth it
could be likely that contraception has just been introduced and perhaps the concept of contraception
and family planning is still quite unusual to much of the population. Therefore the birth rate is still high
and has not changed much since stage 1 and this creates a large natural population increase. At the
beginning of stage 3 of the demographic transition model the death rate has significantly lowered
since stage 2 and the birth rate has declined somewhat but is still fairly high. In order to reach stage 3
of the demographic transition model, a country's death rate must have been lowered to around 12 per
1000. In order to do this a country must make improvements in areas such as healthcare and sanitation.
Throughout stage 3 the death rate continues to decline slightly until it reaches stage 4 where it is
below 10 per 1000. The birth rate also continues to decline throughout stage 3, and by the end of
stage 3 has declined significantly to be around 15 per 1000 at the beginning of stage 4. Stages 2 and 3
have the largest natural population increase of around 23 or 24 per 1000. By stage 4 of the
demographic transition model the birth and death rates have fallen right down and are by the end of
stage 4 are pretty much level with each other, creating a very small natural increase which is almost
verging on natural decrease. The birth and death rates will decline towards and throughout stage 4
because a country has become more developed. Through becoming more developed the ideals of the
population will have changed and probably reversed since stage 1 and 2. This means that it no longer
becomes usual to have more than about 2 children, because children are an economic burden and
having more than 2 would be very expensive. Also because of the availability of healthcare most
children survive until they are pensioners and so there is not such a need to have large families to
ensure more children survive to adulthood.
In what ways is the Demographic Transition Model useful for governments and geographers?
Despite mixed opinions on whether the Demographic Transition Model works it is useful in the respect
that it provides a form of prediction for what a country is likely to experience in terms of population
growth. The prediction formed by the Demographic Transition Model is useful for governments
because it allows them to see what category their country adheres to best and how it is likely to
change and whether the changes will have a positive or negative impact on the country. It allows them
to see whether they have enough resources and money to be able to support their population if it is

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Kirsty Watret12.404/10/2012
expanding. It is also useful to governments as it shows which areas of the population need the most
funding as a higher death rate could be an indication of an ageing population and a high birth rate would
mean a young dependant population and therefore more money would need to be put into either
healthcare for pensioners and nursing homes or on education facilities for children.…read more

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Kirsty Watret12.404/10/2012
One of the main criticisms of the Demographic Transition Model is that it does not take into account
human interference. Human interference takes into account migration, population policies, and the
work of humanitarian organisations such as UNICEF. The DTM is purely based on natural population
increase and growth and to a certain extent natural decline. Since it only considers natural increase it
doesn't take into account the migration of people from one country to another.…read more

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Kirsty Watret12.404/10/2012
Transition Model and so the model is therefore not applicable to these countries because it can't
predict what the population will do in the future.
Another main weakness of the Demographic Transition Model is its generalness. The model seems to
be a good fit for most MEDC countries but then there are a high proportion of MEDCs in Europe, which
the model was based upon and therefore could be considered slightly limited.…read more


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