Unit 1- Population Dynamics


Key terms

Birth rate- The amount of babies born per 1000 of the population per year.

Death rate- The amount of deaths per 1000 of the population per year.

Population balance- Birth and death rates are almost equal and the population remains level.

Natural increase/decrease-The difference between birth and death rates.

Fertility rate- The average number of children born to a woman.

Immigrants- People moving into a country.

Emigrants- People moving out of a country.

Migration- Movement of people in or out of an area or country.

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Key terms

Migration balance-

  • Positive- More immigrants than emigrants- increase population
  • Negative- Less Immigrants than emigrants- decrease in population

Replacement level- The amount of babies needed to be born for the population to remain the same.

Pro-natalist policy- A population policy that encourages births to increase the population.

Anti-natalist policy- A population policy that tries to reduce the birth rate and therfore reduce population growth.

Open door migration policy- A population policy that encourages international migration.

Points based migration policy- A population policy that only allows skilled people to migrate to that country.

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Global population trends

  • The population is growing at an alarming rate. In 2008 about another 65 million people were added to the global total of 6.6 billion.
  • Since 2000 the rate of population growth has begun to slow down.
  • Exponential growth- In 1804 it had taken the human race just over 300 years to double the number from 1/2 a billion to a billion. Yet in 1999 the population had increased to 6 billion, the doubling time had fallen to 39 years. The bigger the population the faster in has grown.
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Population increase

Why has population been increasing?

Mainly due to a decline in death rates and infant mortality rates:

  • Development of modern medicines- This has meant more and more people are kept alive due to modern practices.
  • Introduction of vaccination and immunisation programmes- e.g.small pox, helps people live longer.
  • Cleaner drinking water and better sewage disposal
  • Better healthcare
  • More hygienic housing
  • Better diets- e.g. promotion of '5 a day'
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Life expectancy/ birth rate

In some countries life expectancy has been declining:

  • Botswana- 30% of adults have HIV/ AIDS and life expectancy has decreased.
  • Sudan- Conflict has led to a lower life expectancy.

Why are birth rates high in some countries?

  • In some developing countries a large % of people work in primary industries, children can be seen as an economic benefit to work on the land.
  • A womens religion may not allow birth control, so they have no choice but to have lots of children.
  • High child mortality rate- Having lots of children ensures some will survive to work and care for the parents in their old age.
  • Lack of family planning/ birth control.
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Population change

World population is expected to continue to grow till 2200, but it will not be even:

  • Population increase- Mainly occuring in Africa, the Middle East and parts of South America and South Asia.
  • Population balance- Mainly in North America and Europe.
  • Population decline- Russia and parts of Central and Eastern Europe.

Higher levels of population increase are occuring in developing (low income and middle income) countries.

Lower levels of population increase, population balance or even population decline mainly occur in developed (high income) countries.

The world bank groups countries by their Gross National Income (GNI) per person. It is the average amount of money earned by a country per year, divided by all the people who live there.

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  • Middle income country
  • 1950- Total population 103 million
  • 2008- Total population 143 million
  • By 2057- Total population is expected to have grown to 104 million

Russia population will decline because of:

  • Falling life expectancy of men (60 years) caused by industrial disease and alcoholism.
  • Outward migration of young men and women.
  • A low fertility rate of 1.2 children per women.

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  • Low income country
  • 1950- Total population 4.3 millon.
  • 2008- Total population 21 million.
  • By 2057 Yemens population is expected to reach 105 million. Between now and then the population is set to reach that of Russias and then overtake it.

Yemens population will grow quickly because of:

  • Early age of marriage: 48% of women are married by 18.
  • Low literacy rates among women, most girls marry early so rarely complete secondary school.
  • A high fertility rate of 6.7 children per women, increasing life expectancy due to improved child vaccinations.


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Demographic transition model

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Demographic transition model

The demographic transition model shows population change over time. It studies how birth and death rate affect the total population of a country.

Stage 1: High fluctuating- High birth rate due to high infant mortality, high death rate due to disease and famine.

Stage 2: Early expanding e.g. Yemen- High birth rate, falling death rate due to improved health care and nutrition.

Stage 3: Late expanding e.g. China- Falling birth rate due to birth control and wanting smaller families, falling death rates.

Stage 4: Low fluctuating e.g. Japan- low birth and death rates due to working women delaying starting families.

Stage 5: Decline e.g. Germany- Death rate higher than birth rate due to an ageing population.

Most LEDCs are at stages 2 or 3. Most MEDCs are at stage 4 of the model and some such as Germany have entered stage 5.

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Demographic transition models

Limitations of the model:

  • The model was developed after studying the experiences of countries in Western Europe and North America. Conditions might be different for LEDCs in different parts of the world.
  • The original model doesn't take into account the fact that some countries now have a declining population and a 5th stage. Most texts will now show this stage as it is relevant to an increasing number of MEDCs in the 21st century.
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Population pyramids

Population structure is usually shown using a population pyramid. It can be used for a continent, country or even individual cities, towns or villages.

  • The shape of a population pyramid can tell us a lot about an area's population.
  • It gives us information about birth and death rates as well as life expectancy.
  • A population pyramid tells us how many dependants there are. There are two groups of dependants; young dependants (aged below 15) and elderly dependants (aged over 65).
  • Dependants rely upon the economically active for economic support.
  • Many LEDCs have a high number of young dependants, whilst many MEDCs have a growing number of elderly dependants.
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How do pyramids change over time

  • A population pyramid that is very triangular (eg Mozambique in 2000) shows a population with a high number of young dependants and a low life expectancy.
  • A population pyramid that has fairly straight sides (more like a barrel) shows a population with a falling birth rate and a rising life expectancy.
  • Over time, as a country develops, the shape changes from triangular to barrel-like.
  • Places with an ageing population and a very low birth rate would have a structure that looks like an upside-down pyramid
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Dependancy ratio

Population pyramids can be also used to work out the dependency ratio (is a relationship between those who are and are not working in an area (usually a country). Dependancy ration= (%under15)+(%over65)/ %between 15 and 64.

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Youthful populations

When there are a very high percentage of people under the age of 15. Disadvantages:

  • Pressure on housing- not enough housing, people living in slums. This is very common around the big cities (New Delhi), where millions of people live in shanty towns with no running water, roads, sewage of any kind.
  • Pressure on schooling- illiterate population, e.g. Indias literacy rate is 60%.
  • Pressure on food supplies-famine, food distribution difficulties. Natural disasters accentuate these problems.
  • Pressure on health services- High levels of education provision and health care are needed for children and babies, this is expencive.
  • The rapidly growing population needs housing and employment.
  • More difficult for women to work- as they have to spend time caring for large numbers of children, so they are not earning an income.
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Youthful population


  • Provides a steady supply of workers and can encourage economies to grow.
  • Children provide security and support for old age.
  • Children are a valuable source of income for a family as they work on the land from a young age. As they get older they can earn money on other ways.
  • As children get older they can help to care for siblings.
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Ageing population

A country has a large number of people over the age of 65.


  • Old people cost a lot to support and taxes may rise to pay for extra health and care.
  •  Health care – There will be a shortage of retirement homes and hospital care for the elderly, so more will have to be built. 
  •  The need for specially designed houses and serviced blocked of flats. For example, hand rails, nonslip floors and emergency buttons.
  • An increase in the cost of pensions. More elderly people, living longer, will require pensions for longer. With the falling birth rate, there will be fewer workers in the economy, so higher taxes will be needed to fund those pensions. In Japan, the Government has already raised the pension age from 60 to 65. 
  •  Shortages of labour, recruiting overseas workers. For example, nurses and doctors.
  • Provision of leisure activities for the elderly.
  • There are decreasing numbers of economically active people in the population
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Ageing population


  • The tourist industry in countries like the UK has benefited with more retired people going on several holidays a year.
  •  More elderly people in MEDC’s (more economically developed countries) have more money to spend, which benefits the economy.
  • They can support their adult children as they raise their young families.
  • They undertake many worthwhile tasks, many of them voluntary.
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Solutions to ageing population

Health care

  • Provide more healthcare e.g. retirement homes, hospital beds.
  • Skilled health workers e.g.nurses doctor etc


  • Increase tax- not popular
  • Raise retirement age- not popular
  • Abolish state pensions- not popular
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Ageing population- Japan


  • 21% of population age 65+.
  • 26.8 million pensioners.
  • Birth rate below replacement level.


  • People living longer (79 for men and 85 for women) due to healthy diet and high GDP.
  • Birth rate declining due to increase in the age women have their first child (2006 29.2 years) and the number of marriages has decreased.


  • Increased cost of pensions as there are fewer workers.
  • Governement raised retirement age from 60 to 65.
  • Increase in number of nursing homes.
  • Increased cost of medical care.
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Youthful population- Mexico


  • 31% of their population are under 15.
  • Population grew 50 million in 40 years.
  • Average age is 26.


  • Low death rate at 4.78 deaths per year per 1000due to vaccinations and doctors.
  • Falling birth rate but large % of young people.
  • Will take Mexico 50 years to lose its youthful population.


  • Requires an increase in school places.
  • large numbers of young people struggle to find work, so some migrate to the US.
  • There is a growing manufacturing industry. The Mexican economy is expected to grow to overtake the UKs and become the 7th largest economy by 2050.
  • Mexico is catholic but abortion has been legalised in Mexico city to reduce the number of abandoned children.
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Controlling population

Why do some countries wish to control their populations?

To gain an optimum population (when resources and and population equally balance, sustainable). Governments often step in to manage their populations to stop them passing the tipping point that leeds to overpopulation.

Many countries have introduced policies to encourage people to have more or fewer children.

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China- Anti-natalist

Introduced the one child policy in the 1970s, couples are not allowed to have more than one child. Couples with one child were given benefits e.g. cash bonuses, better childcare and improved housing. Unauthorised pregnancies were pressured to have abortions and couples with more than one child recieved heavy fines.

Why was it introduced:

  • High growth rate of the population.
  • Pressure on land and food supplies due to the large population.


  • Birth rate fell from 34 per 1000 in 1970 to 13 per 1000 in 2008
  • Annual population growth rate fell from 2.4% to 0.6%.
  • Population has grown from 996 million in 1980 to 1,320 million today.
  • Chinese tradition to prefer sons, sex selective abortions occured (120males to 100 females).
  • Shortage of women at marrying age.
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Estonia- Pro-natalist

Introduced 'mothers salery' where women were paid to have children- 15 months fully paid maternity leave.

Why introduce it?

  • Estonia became independant from Russia in 1992
  • Falling population due to fertility rate declining from 2.2 in 1988 to 1.4 in 1998.
  • People planning fewer children due to increased poverty, single lifestyles and young people migrating overseas.

By 2006 fertility rate rose to 1.5 ( still below replacement level).

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UK- migration policy

Open door- Post war, immigrants came to the UK from coloniesin the Carribean due to an act of Parlaiment giving all commonwealth citizens free entry into the UK (1950- 1960 1/4 million people came from the Carribean).

This met the shortage of unskilled and semi- skilled labour so helped with the reconstruction of the country post war.

However public money was spent on meeting the needs of the Immigrants e.g. housing etc, 1970s recession, the immigrants led to increased unemployment.

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Points based system

In 2008 a points based policy was established in the uk and contains 5 tiers of migrants. Tier 1 has highly skilled workers such as scientists. So scientists and other highly skilled workers are more likely to be allowed into the UK where there are skill shortages.

In 2004 Eastern European countries joined the EU. This meant that citizens of these countries are free to move and work in other EU member countries. In some cases these economic migrants stay only until they feel they have enough money to take home.

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Immigration pros

Source advantages:

  • Immigrants send money home to their families.
  • Less pressure on resources and jobs in places like Poland.
  • They bring skills back to their country.

Host advantages:

  • Meets shortage of High skilled and semi skilled labour.
  • Helped to reconstruct UK after war.
  • Increases culture.
  • Immigrants contribute via taxes.
  • They often take low paid jobs.
  • Less than 5% claim any sort of state benefit
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Immigration cons

Source disadvantages:

  • Loss of working population from Poland.
  • Decline in birth rate as migrants are young men.

Host disadvantages:

  • Public money spent on immigrants e.g. housing and healthcare
  • During the 1970s recession immigrants added to the number of unemployed.
  • Increased hostility towards the immigrants.
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Tensions as a result of immigration

The UK immigration of ethnic groups lead to conflict as there was hostility towards them. These ethnic groups banded together into particular areas to reduce the risk of being victimised. The UK government stepped in and stated that all citizens regardless of ethnicity should enjoy equal opportunities. Today much more harmonious as people have begun to realise the positives of having them; they add to country’s skill base and culture.

Qouta- set limits to how many peopleare allowed in each year.

Skills test- Assess qualifications and skills to see if they match the jobs that are needed.

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