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Population change



Objective 1 – Describe and explain population indicators – vital rates (birth rate, death rate, fertility rate, infant mortality rate, life expectancy, migration rate and population density) for countries at different stages of development.

Experts’ Tips

• This section could be examined by having ‘definition’ type questions.

• Many questions will ask you to respond to given data either in the form of maps, photographs or articles.

• It is clear that you need to know the above statistics for countries at different stages of development. Choose three countries (a More Economically Developed Country [MEDC], a Less Economically Developed Country [LEDC] and a Newly Industrialised Country [NIC]) and be able to make comparisons by creating a table showing the birth rates, death rates etc.

What you need to know:

• Birth rate (or Crude Birth Rate [CBR]: is the number of live births per thousand people, within a given population, per year. This is expressed as e.g. 13/1000 or 13‰ (the UK CBR for 2010).

• Death rate (or Crude Death rate [CDR]) is the number of deaths per thousand people, within a given population, per year. This is expressed as e.g. 9/1000 or 9‰ (the UK CDR for 2010).

• Fertility rate: This is the number of live births per thousand women aged 15–49 per year. The total fertility rate is the average number of children each woman in a population will have. In the UK in 2009 it was 1.94 children per woman.

• Infant mortality rate: This is the number of infant deaths (in the first year of life) compared to the number of live births in one year. In the UK it is 5 per thousand births.

• Life expectancy: This can be expressed in two ways
– Life expectancy at birth: the age that someone is expected to live to from birth. The disadvantage of this is that high infant mortality will pull this figure down and make it unrealistic for people who reach e.g. the age of five. Male life expectancy for the UK is 77.7 years,
– Life expectancy at a given age: this is a measure of how many years someone has left at any given age. This overcomes the disadvantages of the simple life expectancy.

• Migration rate: this is a measure of the balance between immigration and emigration. Net migration in the UK was +163,000 in 2007, with 590,000 immigrants and 427,000 emigrants.

Population density: This is expressed at the number of people living in a country/region divided by the area and expressed a people/km². It is difficult to link this to economic development.


Outline the differences between birth rate and fertility rate. [4 marks]

2. Outline the factors that lead to changing population density. [4 marks]

3. Comment on how useful infant mortality rate is as an indicator of development. [5 marks]

4. Study the image which shows the number of registered migrant workers in the United Kingdom 2004 – 2007. Describe the pattern shown. [5 marks]

Objective 2 – Describe and explain population change: the demographic transition model (5stages), its validity and applicability in countries at different stages of development.

Experts’ Tips

• Be able to sketch and label a diagram of the demographic transitional model.

• Name the stages ‘early expanding’ etc. not stage 2.

• When giving reasons for the changing CDR and CBR be very specific about the causes and link these to examples e.g. The introduction of DDT impregnated bed nets has reduced the deaths from malaria in Kenya.

• Be able to link an MEDC, an LEDC and a NIC to stages within the model.

• Be able to give examples of countries that do not fit the DTM, explaining why.

What you need to know:

• The five stages:

• High fluctuating/high stationary e.g. a few isolated groups

• Early expanding e.g. Egypt, Kenya

• Late expanding e.g. Brazil

• Low stationary e.g. UK, USA

• Zero or declining e.g. Germany• Death rates high in Stage 1 because of disease and famine, poor medical knowledge and an associated high infant mortality rate.

• Births high in stages 1 and 2 because children are an economic asset, many die at an early age and there is religious and social encouragement.

• Reasons for the changes:
• Death rates fall because of improvements in medical care, water supply, sanitation and food supply etc. Lower infant mortality
• Birth rates fall because fewer children needed, improved family planning, good health, improving status of women and later marriages.

• Validity of the DTM:
• The model assumes that the fall in the death rate in Stage 2 was the consequence of industrialisation. In some cases this increased the CDR. In many countries, the fall in the CBR in Stage 3 has been less (or more) rapid than the model suggests.
• The model assumes that in time all countries pass through the same four stages as they industrialise. It is thought that some LEDCs will never become industrialised.
• The timescale of the model, especially in several South-east Asian countries such as Hong Kong and Malaysia, is being reduced because of rapid industrialisation.
• Countries such as the USA grew because of immigration from Europe and did not pass through the early stages of the model.
• In some countries e.g. Botswana, the impact of HIV/AIDS has increased the CDR.


5. ‘The demographic transition model is useful when explaining the changing populations of developed countries. It is not valid for most present day developing countries.’ Discuss this statement commenting on the changing usefulness of the model. [15 marks]

Objective 3 – Understand population structures at different stages of demographic transition. The impact of migration on national population structures. The implication of different structures for the balance between population and resources

Experts’ Tips

• This section is about population structure (i.e. the shape of population pyramids). When there is a question with the word ‘structure’ in it, sketch out the main pyramid shapes so that you can order your thoughts logically.

• The last section is not about population growth and its relationship to resources (Malthus etc). It is about the differing demands on resources that populations with different structures make.

What do you need to know:

• Population structures can be divided into:
– Youthful populations (pyramids with a wide base, gently sloping sides and a narrow apex).
– Aging populations (pyramids with a narrow base, steep sides and a wide apex).
– Migrant populations (pyramids with bulges in the sides between 15 and 40 years old with a predominance of men)
– War-torn populations (pyramids with sudden decreases of population within certain age groups.

• Age structure can be measured by:
– The dependency ratio
– The support ratio
– The juvenility and old-age indices

• Be able to link each of these structures to stages within the DTM with examples of countries with differing structures.

• Have examples of how migration affects the national population structures and the resultant social, economic and political effects [see section 4] for:
– Donor countries
– Receiver countries

• Understand that youthful populations (e.g. the Gambia) have very different demands on their resources (need for maternity services, education etc) than do ageing populations (e.g. Japan) where there is a need for pensions, post-retirement activities, support services, care homes and geriatric nursing.


6. Study the image, which shows the population structures of the USA and Nigeria. Describe and explain the differences between the population structures of the two countries. [6 marks]
7. Outline some of the issues for economic development linked with a population structure with a very high proportion of people under 15 years old. [ 5 marks]

8. Using case studies, discuss the differing impacts of population structures on the balance between population and resources. [15 marks]

Objective 4 – Express the social, economic and political implications of population change. Attempts to manage population change to achieve sustainable development with reference to two case studies of countries at different stages of development.

Experts’ Tips

• Experts like to see you being able to put causes and effects into different categories. In all your answers to questions about this part of the specification try to sub-divide the implications into:
– Social
– Economic
– Political

• For each of the above, have at least one example.

• Population change usually means an increase, but you can choose a country where there is a decrease in population.

• For the section on management of population change, choose two case studies that are very different. In your case studies be sure that Experts can see that the management method clearly relates to that country. Generic statements rarely take answers beyond level 1.

What you need to know:

• Social implications include:
– Rising population: increased dependency ratio; shortage of housing, school places, land, food.
– Falling population: Ageing population, working population to work longer, health services put under pressure.

• Economic implications include:
– Rising population: Unemployment; pressure on resources – food, housing, health, schools. Need to provide for an ageing or a young dependent population.
– Falling population: stimulates economic growth and leads to jobs being filled – possibly unwanted jobs or those demanding certain skills; more paid in taxes; rise in public spending.

• Political implications include:
– Rising population: Need to allocate resources – drain on these – need to increase food production, increase taxation to fund health care of elderly; need to introduce population policies regarding reducing birth rate or migration to compensate for an ageing population.
– Falling population: Policies to encourage natural increase, immigration; to stem outflow of population, to develop resources – seek aid.

• Attempts to manage population change include:
– Anti-natalist e.g. China (one child policy)
– Pro-natalist e.g. France (social, tax and cash benefits to those with large families).

Sustainable development: This can be defined as: the maintenance of our current rate of development whilst leaving suitable resources behind for later generations to continue to develop.


9. With reference to a country you have studied, comment on attempts to manage population change. [15 marks]

10. Describe and comment on the social, economic and political consequences of population change. [15 marks]

11. Describe the changing population growth rate for China from 1970 to 2010 [3 marks]

Objective 5 – Describe the ways in which natural populations change and migration affect the character of rural and urban areas.
Experts’ Tips

• Make sure that you keep the two types of population change separate, they could be asked individually. Similarly the effects of both on rural AND urban areas.

• You need to study the problems outlined above regarding ageing and youthful populations but this time with regard to local or regional scales within countries.

• There is no requirement for case studies, but they will help enormously in this section. The UK is a good example of both, rural depopulation (in the remote north) and rural repopulation (in the south west) caused by out migration.

• Use data from to produce your own case studies.

What you need to know:

• Reasons for population change (both natural and as a result of migration) in both rural and urban areas.

• Effects of population decline in rural areas (e.g. loss of services).

• Effects of rural repopulation in rural areas (e.g. house price rise).

• Effects of migration into urban areas (e.g. increased multicultural activity)

• Effects of migration out of urban areas (e.g. the urban doughnut effect).

The overall effects of population growth in urban areas.


12. Describe and explain the ways in which population change can affect an urban area. [7 marks]

13. Describe and explain the effects population migration has on rural areas. [7 marks]

14. Comment on the ways in which natural population change and migration affect the character of rural and urban areas. [15 marks]

Objective 6 – Detailed settlement case study – comparing two (or more) of the following areas – an inner city area, a suburban area, an area of rural / urban fringe and an area of rural settlement. To include reference to characteristics such as: housing, ethnicity, age structure, wealth, employment and provision of services. The implications of the above for social welfare.

Experts’ Tips

• The last two paragraphs of this part of the specification are closely linked. Everything that is studied in the first paragraph must be with reference to the second.

• This is another opportunity to create your own case studies for areas familiar to you. Using choose two appropriate areas near where you live and create a table showing the contrasts.

• This is one of the best opportunities for human geography fieldwork.

What you need to know:

For your case study areas you need details on

• Housing:
– type
– tenure
– cost

• Ethnicity:
– percentage of ethnic groups
– impact of ethnic groupings on the area

• Age structure:
– Is it a youthful or ageing population?
– What is the dependency ratio?

• Wealth: this is the most difficult to explore. The best measure would be to look at occupation types. An alternative might be to look at the services provided in the area.

• Employment: Look at the percentage of the population for each of the socio-economic occupation groups.

• Provision of services: visit the areas and complete a survey of services available.

The implications on social welfare depends on what the term means. One definition for social welfare is ‘the quality of life that includes factors such as the quality of the environment (air, soil, water), level of crime, extent of drug abuse, availability of essential social services, as well as religious and spiritual aspects of life.’ Another simpler view is ‘the well-being of a community as a whole.’ A different viewpoint is that social welfare is ‘ the governmental provision of assistance to those in need.’


15. For one of the following that you have studied:
– Inner city
– suburb
– rural/urban fringe
– rural settlement
Describe the housing and age structure of the area. [4 marks]

16. Choose two of the following areas:
– Inner city
– suburb
– rural/urban fringe
– rural settlement
Compare the housing and population structures of your chosen areas and explain the implications of these contrasts for social welfare. [15 marks]

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