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Population and Development

Population and Development

Did you know that the world population increases by 83 million people annually? The global population is estimated to hit 8.6 billion in 2030. That's a lot of people, right? Did you also know that almost 10% of the world's population still lives on less than $2 a day? Much of our world is still developing, however, what exactly does that have to do with population? Are there correlations between population and development? Why is this question important? What are the factors that influence this relationship? Dive on in to find out.

Population and Development

Population and development go hand in hand, especially for us geographers. Population levels are a great way to indicate development levels.

Population refers to the total number of people inhabiting an area (such as a city, country, or the world), and is continually being modified by rises (such as births and migration inflows) and falls (such as deaths and migration outflows).

Rapid Population Growth began in the 18th century, and since then, our global population has been steadily rising, as a result of the advancement of medicine, hygiene, and food production systems, as well as increased birth rates.

The theory of overpopulation

The term overpopulation is a widely debated one. The theory of overpopulation refers to an imbalance wherein the number of people on the planet theoretically exceeds the earth's capacity to sustain them. The idea of overpopulation was coined by Thomas Malthus (a demographer from the 18th century), who said that there won't be enough resources (specifically food supply) to cater to the evergrowing population. In the 1960s, a novel named The Population Bomb set fears in motion about the overpopulation of the world; it states that overpopulation could result in starvation and environmental damage. However, the idea of overpopulation today is heavily criticised. Some say that overpopulation blames the number of people, rather than the amount of resources that are consumed, or the damage to the environment that occurs. When discussing overpopulation, people typically refer to countries like India, China, or the developing world, showing this theory to be discriminatory.


What is development?

Development refers to how economically, culturally, socially, and technologically advanced a country is. Once upon a time, the world was divided into two; the Global North and Global South, based on their level of development. The Global North was seen as the richer part of the world, and the Global South as the poor. This division was illustrated by the Brandt Line.

Population and Development The Brandt Line on a map StudySmarterFig. 1 - the Brandt Line, dividing the world into the Global North and Global South.

Now, the Brandt Line has become more outdated. For example, India and China are no longer considered developing countries but rather emerging economies. The World Bank now uses an alternative classification system, labelling countries as either Low-Income Countries (LICs), Middle-Income Countries (MICs), and High-Income Countries (HICs).

Newly Emerging Economies (NEEs) are those experiencing rapid development and industrialisation. Examples of these include the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), as well as countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Many different measures are used to show whether countries are developed or not. Historically, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was used as the main measure of development, until critics stepped in and said there needed to be more of a focus on humans and life satisfaction, rather than just the economy. This is where the Human Development Index (HDI) came in, created by Mahbub ul Haq, and used by the United Nations, to measure development more holistically. It focuses on three main dimensions; health, knowledge, and the standard of living. You can read more about different measures of development in the Development Indicators explanation.

Population and Development Importance

So how exactly does population connect with levels of development, and why is it important? Well, this can first be demonstrated with the Demographic Transition Model (DTM). This model shows how population levels change (birth rates, death rates, total population, and natural increase), as countries become more developed.

Birth rates are the number of people born (per 1000, per year). Death rates are the number of people that die (per 1000, per year).

Population and Development Demographic Transition Model graph StudySmarterFig. 2 - the demographic transition model

The DTM indicates that at stage 1, the lowest stage of development, birth rates and death rates are very high. As development improves, both birth rates and death rates gradually fall. Stage 4 is where many developed countries sit today, with stable and low birth and death rates, like the US, Australia, and the majority of Europe. The total population continues to rise until stage 5.

From the DTM, we can see that with higher development levels, birth rates and death rates go down. However, some challenges come with this. When economies reach later stages of development, the total population may begin to decline. Many advanced economies today face the problem of an ageing population (such as in Japan) and low fertility rates (such as in Sweden). We can see this possibility in stage 5, where population figures are a little unpredictable for the future.

Other models are also used to show the relationship between population and development. Population pyramids show population numbers (male and female), and age. In developing countries, there will be a higher proportion of younger people in comparison to more developed countries. The shape of the pyramid can indicate the level of development.

Make sure you read the explanations on the Demographic Transition Model and Population Pyramids for more on this.

Population and Development Factors

We can easily come to the conclusion that development and population are intertwined. Let's take a look at some of the factors that demonstrate the relationship between population and development.

Agricultural changes

Due to technological advancements, labour becomes more efficient, and more workers can find their way into the industrial sector, leading to economic growth. The shift from an agricultural-based society, to one that has industrialised and more technologised, means that the need for labour is reduced (e.g. from children), so smaller families become more common. This can be seen in the UK as a result of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th/19th centuries.

Education

As countries develop further, education improves. Birth rates reduce due to improved education around contraception, for example. Healthcare also improves with more advanced education systems, which helps to overall reduce death rates and infant mortality rates, and improve life expectancy, so fewer people die.

Status of women

As countries develop and economic opportunities increase, women and girls are more able to seek education and employment, whereas previously they may have been seen as homemakers and child-bearers. With more women in the labour force (indicating a higher level of development), many of them decide not to have or delay having a child which reduces birth rates.

Women may also be more empowered to pursue careers and education, thus delaying their average child-bearing age. In previous decades, the average child-bearing age was between 20-25 years old, whereas now, it is 30-35.

Migration

As countries develop, they may become more attractive to people immigrating or emigrating; they may move in search of better economic or educational opportunities. Migration to a country increases the population in the host country, improves development levels, and attracts brain gain. On the flip side, though, the population in the origin country decreases, and development levels are affected; often, well-educated workers leave for other countries, causing a brain drain in the country of origin.

Immigrating means that someone is moving into a country. Emigrating means that someone is leaving a country. They can be used interchangeably to describe one person.

In the developing world, rural-urban migration (moving from rural to urban areas) is very common, and often people move to improve children's livelihoods. This means that children aren't needed for labour in more urban areas, reducing birth rates significantly.

Population and Development Sustainable Growth

In the future, more countries aim to develop and grow further. As more countries begin to develop, and the total population continues to rise (and hit predictions of over 9 billion by 2050), we need to ensure this development is happening sustainably, to protect the environment and conserve resources for the future. Due to this, the concept of sustainable development is now key.

Sustainable development refers to growth that meets our current needs without compromising the ability of our future generation, or the environment. It means growing in a way that is beneficial not only to us but to the generations to come.

It is critical that as countries develop and the population rises, sustainable development becomes the focus. Although development is seen as a positive thing, if it is unrestricted, it can cause problems for the environment and our future populations.

The United Nations produced 17 sustainable development goals in 2015 as a part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to ensure development is undertaken in a sustainable way across the world. Some of these goals include zero hunger, gender equality, and climate action.

Population and Development - Key takeaways

  • Development is how socially, economically, and culturally advanced a country is, measured by different indicators, like the GDP or HDI.
  • Population and development are intertwined; this is represented by models such as the Demographic Transition Model, which shows that as development increases, birth rates and death rates (for the most part), fall.
  • The theory of overpopulation is a heavily debated topic, with some saying our world is overpopulated, while others say this is a problematic and discriminatory term.
  • Factors that affect population and development include agricultural changes, education, the status of women, and migration.
  • Sustainable development refers to the idea that we should grow our economies responsibly to sustain our limited natural resources for future generations and the environment.

Frequently Asked Questions about Population and Development

Population and development are intertwined; often, population statistics indicate the level of development. This can be represented in models like the Demographic Transition Model.

Population statistics, like birth rates or death rates, can indicate the level of development a country may have. 

Sustainable development refers to responsible economic growth that doesn't compromise the resources available for future generations or the environment. The global population is rising, with many people living in less developed countries. Sustainable development is vital for this growing population.

Four factors that affect population growth include birth rates, death rates, immigration, and emigration. 

Development can be defined as the advancement of a country economically, culturally, socially, and technologically.

Final Population and Development Quiz

Question

Population ___ show the population numbers, including gender and age.

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Answer

pyramids.

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What can a population pyramid show?

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Answer

Birth rates

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Question

Population pyramids stay the same forever

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Answer

True

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What are dependants?

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Answer

The young and elderly who rely on the economically active age groups to support them

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What do young dependents need?

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Answer

Education

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What do elderly dependents need?

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Answer

Retirement payments

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How many population pyramid stages are there?

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Answer

5

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What is Stage 2 characterised by?


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Answer

High birth rate, high death rate, high population growth, growing population size

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What is Stage 3 characterised by?

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Rapidly declining birth rate, slowly declining death rate, high population growth rate, increasing population size

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What is another term used for Stage 2?

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Answer

Expansive

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What stage(s) are HICs usually in?

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Stage 1

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What stage(s) are LICs usually in?

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Stage 1

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What stage(s) are NEEs usually in?

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Stage 1

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Question

What stage is this population pyramid in?


The birth rate and death rate are low and vary. The population growth rate is back to nearly zero with a high population size. 


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Stage 1

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What stage is this population pyramid in?


high birth rate and a high death rate.  May also be experiencing high infant mortality rates and high child mortality rates.

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Stage 1

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Question

What stage is this population pyramid in?


high birth rate and a rapidly declining death rate. The population growth rate is very high and the population size is rapidly increasing. 

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Answer

Stage 1

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What stage is this population pyramid in?


Birth rates are slowly falling while death rates are low. This means population growth rates are negative, and the population size is slowly falling.

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Answer

Stage 1

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What is Stage 4 characterised by?

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Answer

Low birth and death rate, low population growth rate, stable population size

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Question

The Demographic Transition Model was created by _____ in ___.

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Answer

Warren Thompson, 1929.

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What does the Demographic Transition Model show?

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Birth rates, death rates, natural increase, and total population.


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The difference between birth rates and death rates is known as ____.


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natural increase

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When birth rates are high, and death rates are low, what happens to the total population?


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Natural increase

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Question

True or false: As countries move through each of the stages, development levels worsen.


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Answer

False

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What are the 5 stages of the Demographic Transition Model?


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Answer

  • High stationary 
  • Early expanding
  • Late expanding 
  • Low expanding 
  • Decline or incline

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True or false: when there are enough births to keep a stable population, this is known as the replacement rate.


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Answer

True

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What is an ageing population?


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Rise in the population who are elderly.


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What is an example of a country at stage 2 of the Demographic Transition Model?


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Answer

Yemen

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What is an example of a country at stage 5 of the Demographic Transition Model? 


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Japan

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When did the UK hit stage 2 of the Demographic Transition Model?


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Beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

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What stage of the Demographic Transition Model is the UK in now?


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Stage 4

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What countries follow the model exactly?


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Answer

Japan and France

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True or false: the dtm is mainly based on western countries.


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True

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What factors are ignored by the Demographic Transition Model?


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Answer

  • Migration
  • Wars
  • Pandemics
  • Government intervention

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Natural increase =                -              

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Answer

The birth rate, the death rate

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Question

Births and deaths are the                           of population change.

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Answer

natural causes 

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True or False

Immigration is leaving the country.

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Answer

True

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True or False

Emigration is entering the country.

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Answer

False 

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Question

Which of the following are not the reason for a falling death rate from 1750 to 1900?

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Answer

Bad hygiene

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Which of the following is not a reason for LEDCs having high birth rates?

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Traditionally and culturally it was seen to have smaller families 

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What were the problems with the one-child policy in China?

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It was seen as unlucky to have a girl.

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How can creating an opportunity for people to think about reproductive rights lead to lowering birth rates?

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Studies have shown that access to reproductive health services makes it easier to break out of poverty and working women are likely to use birth control.

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Which of these are not a consequence of rapid population growth on the environment?

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Pollution and waste

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Why does rapid population growth lead to the destruction of the environment?

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Answer

There is an increase in demands, needs, and services.

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Which statement are TRUE?

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Socioeconomic development is measured by gross domestic product (GDP).

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Which statement is FALSE?

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Overpopulated spaces can destroy the natural environments of forests and habitats for wildlife. 

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What kind of pollution is caused by rapid population growth?

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Answer

Runoff of chemical fertilisers from agriculture

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Which statement is TRUE?

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Answer

China's one-child policy was to reduce the birth rate and slow the population growth as it was unsustainable.

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Question

 Death rates are measured through the deaths yearly per _____ people in a population. 

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Answer

1000

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Population refers to the total number of people inhabiting an area. True or False? 

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Answer

True.

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Question

Overpopulation refers to a balance between the population size and the Earth's capacity to sustain them. True or False? 

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Answer

False. 

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