Demographic Transition Model (DTM)

  • Created by: yott33
  • Created on: 27-01-16 21:36


The DTM shows how the population of a country changes over time through 5 stages. It shows changes in birth rate, death rate and total population. (

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Stage 1


  • BR and DR fluctuate at a high level
  • Population remains stable but low
  • No countries in stage 1, but some tribes in rainforests of Brazil


  • BR is high because there's no birth control or family planning, and education is poor
  • BR is high because there's high infant mortality so people have more children to replace those who've died
  • DR is high and life expectancy is low because there's poor healthcare, sanitation and diet leading to disease and starvation
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Stage 2


  • DR falls
  • BR remains high
  • Population increases rapidly
  • Countries such as Nepal and Afghanistan


  • BR still high because little birth control/family planning and education is poor
  • BR high for labour reasons - family members inc. children have to work e.g. on farms
  • DR falls & LE increases due to improved health care, sanitation and diet
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Stage 3


  • BR declines rapidly
  • DR falls slowly
  • Population increases at slower rate
  • Countries such as Egypt


  • BR decreases due to increased birth control/family planning and improvements in education
  • BR drops as economy moves to manufacturing - fewer children needed to work on farms so having a larger family isn't as advantageous as it used to be
  • BR falls as more women work rather than stay at home to have children
  • Some countries introduce govt. policies to reduce BR
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Stage 4


  • BR and DR fluctuate at low level
  • Population remains stable but high
  • Most developed countries in stage 4


  • BR stays low because increased access and demand for luxuries like holidays and material possessions means there's less money available for having children
  • Fewer advantages to having children e.g. not needed to work for the family
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Stage 5


  • BR begins to decline
  • DR remains stable
  • Population begins to decrease
  • Some highly developed countries such as Japan


  • BR decreases because children are expensive to raise and many people have dependent elderly relatives so lots of people choose not to have children
  • DR remains steady as there are more elderly people so more people die of old age despite advances in health care
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Applying the DTM - MEDCs

Most countries classed as MEDCs/HICs are in stages 4 and 5 of the DTM - they have low BR and DR, long LE and slow population growth.

  • During Stages 2 & 3, their rapid population growth was accompanied by industrial growth, farming improvements and inc. wealth. This is where they changed from being LEDCs/LICs to MEDCs/HICs
  • Some HICs are in Stage 5 - e.g. Italy, Japan, Germany. This is where BR is lower than DR, causing the population to decrease. The population is ageing, as more people live for longer

Stage 5 problems

- Too few children to replace current workforce; workforce may not be large enough to carry out the work which could cause the economy to slow or stop growing.

- Smaller population = reduction in spending - could cause economy to slow or stall.

- Fewer taxpayers = less money for services. Made worse by inc. cost of services for elderly.

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Applying the DTM - LEDCs

Most countries classed as LEDCs are in Stage 2 e.g. Afghanistan or 3 e.g. India

  • Lots of countries entered Stage 2 in 1950s. Improved health care and sanitation led to a reduced DR, while BR stayed high. Many of these countries have become overpopulated.
  • Some former LICs have moved into Stage 3 in the last few decades e.g. NICs like Malaysia and Taiwan. DR is still falling leading to inc. populations. Some governments have introduced policies to reduce BR and prevent overpopulation, e.g. China's one child policy.
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UK Demographic History & DTM

Stage 1 (prehistoric to 1760s)

Small population (6 million in 1700). Poor diet & hygiene. Wars and Diseases. High DR cancelled out high BR. 

Stage 2 (1760-1880)

Population grew quickl (5x bigger by 1880s). Improvements in farming and medicine. Reduced starvation and disease. DR fell. BR remained high. Economy grew quickly. Urban populations grew rapidly. 

Stage 3 (1880-1940)

Population growing slower. Birth control improved & used more frequently. BR fell. DR continued to fall (except during WWI). Food supply, medicine and hygiene improved. 

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UK Demographic History & DTM cont.

Stage 4 (1940 - today

Population growth slowed down. DR low except during WW2. BR low except for baby booms after WW2 and in 1960s.

Stage 5 (today +)

DR almost same as BR. Ageing population - pensioners outnumber children. Population could begin to decline if BR drops below DR - too few young people or DR becomes larger than BR because large population of elderly die.

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  • Gives good generalised picture of how a population can change over time.
  • Easy to compare country with DTM - if you know about how the population, and BR and DR have changed, you can analyse what stage of the DTM it's in
  • Can forecast how its population may change which can help governments decide on policies such as one-child limits and immigration laws.
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  • Original data used to create DTM from more developed, richer countries - might not be valid model worldwide - what happened in those countries may not be the same as what's happening in others e.g. Asia or Africa
  • Original DTM didn't have Stage 5
  • DTM doesn't take things like education and women's roles into account separatel and these affect BR a lot e.g. increased higher education means more people delay having a family
  • Population in countries with different customs may chane in different ways e.g. Catholic church condemns contraception
  • Extreme poverty and low levels of development may cause lack of population growth and prevent many LICs from passing through all the stages
  • Can't predict when countries will reach each stage or how long each stage will last
  • Doesn't consider migration - international migration can have large effect on population change
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Where a country doesn't fit the DTM anymore

Population control policies e.g. France and China

France = population growth low, so govt. introduced subsidised childcare to encourage larger families.

China = govt. tried to reduce BR by using One-Child policy

Infectious disease e.g. HIV/AIDs, Malaria

Some countries may have particularly high levels of infectious disease, keeping DR high, reducing population/stalling growth. Nigeria - high HIV/AIDs rates, high DR

Civil War e.g. Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sudan

War leads to inc. DR and dec. BR especially if lots of men and women of reproductive age are killed or involved in conflict. Civil war often leads to emigration = dec. population. 

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