Key areas of study for this question:

  • Population growth and distribution
  • Birth and death rates
  • Demographic Transition Model (DTM)
  • Population pyramids
  • Government policies to control population
  • Migration


People are not evenly spread over the earth's surface.

POPULATION DENSITY - Is defined as the number of people living in a square kilometre. Places can be described as being densely or sparesely populated.                                                                                                                                                                                        POPULATION DISTRIBUTION - Describes how people are spread out.


Reasons for differences in population distribution and density include:

  • A range of physical factors such as relief, climate, soils, vegetation and natural resources.
  • A range of human factors such as urban growth, industrial growth, agricultural development, accessibility and government policies.

lesson-1-population-growth-and-distribution.ppt lesson-1-population-growth-and-distribution.ppt






The global population increased slowly until around 1800. Since then, world population growth has increased rapidly. In 2000, the world's population was estimated to be 6 billion people, double what it was in the 1960's. The majority of this recent growth has taken place in LEDC's.
Global population growth depends on a balance between births and deaths.
The major reason for population changes, whether in a particular country or the world as a whole, is a change in birth and death rates.
•The birth rate is the number of live babies born in a year for every 1,000 people in the total population.
•The death rate is the number of people in every 1,000 who die each year.
The natural increase is the difference between the birth rate and the death rate. If the birth rate is higher than the death rate, then the total population will increase. If the death rate is higher than the birth rate, the total population will decrease.













The above diagram is called the Demographic Transition Model. It shows how changes in birth and death rates can affect population growth. It also identifies four distinct stages of growth. These stages, it suggests, are linked to economic growth.













STAGE 1 - Both the birth and death rate is high. Population growth is slow and fluctuating.

STAGE 2 - The birth Rate remains high. The death Rate is falling. Population begins to rise steadily.

STAGE 3 - The birth Rate starts to fall. The death Rate continues to fall. Population rising.

STAGE 4 - Both the birth and death rate is low. Population growth is steady.

STAGE 5 - The birth rate is falling slightly. Death rate is steady. Natural increase/gentle decrease.


lesson-3-demographic-transition-model.ppt lesson-3-demographic-transition-model.ppt



  • 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.
  • Does not consider migration trends.


The rate of natural increase, birth rate, death rate and life expectancy all affect the population structure of a country. The population structure can be shown as a population pyramid.

Population pyramids show:

  • The population of a country or region divided into five-year age groups.
  • The percentage of people in each of these age groups.
  • The percentage of males and females in each age group.
  • Changes in birth and death rate, life expenctancy and infant mortality.
  • The proportion of elderly and young people who are dependent upon those of a working age - known as the economically active.
  • The effects of people migrating into or out of the country or region.
  • The effects of government policies e.g. China's one child policy.



  • Life expectancy - Is the average number of years a person can expect to live.
  • Infant mortality - Is the average number of children per 1000 born alive, who die before the age of one.
  • Dependents - Are those people who rely upon others of the working age.
  • Economically active - Are those people who work and receive a wage.


Population structure will change with development.  The higher birth rates and higher death rates in LEDC's typically produce population pyramids with a wide base and narrow top. However, the lower birth rates and lower death rates in MEDC's produce population pyramids with a narrow base and wider top.


lesson-4-population-pyramids.ppt lesson-4-population-pyramids.ppt

lesson-4-pop-pyramids-examples-factsheet.docx lesson-4-pop-pyramids-examples-factsheet.docx 



Typical population pyramid for a LEDC:













Typical population pyramid for a MEDC:



















Stage 1 - High birth rate. Rapid fall in each upward age group due to high death rates. Short life expectancy.

Stage 2 - Still high birth rate. Fall in death rate as more living in middle age. Slightly longer life expectancy.

Stage 3 - Declining birth rate and declining death rate. More people living to an older age.

Stage 4 - Low birth rate and low death rate. High proportion of dependents. Longer life expectancy.


Population pyramids are useful because they enable comparisons to be made between countries, and help to forecast future trends. This can help a country identify problems and plan for the future. For example, a growth in the elderly population may mean more residential homes are needed. On the other hand, an increase in younger people may mean more schools will be required.






















In some countries, governments need to introduce policies to control their populations. Below are two contrasting policies - China's 'One Child' policy and Singapore's '3 or more' policy.



In the late 1970s, in an attempt to slow down the rate of population growth, the Chinese government introduced a 'One Child' policy, which stated that a couple in China could only have one child. The thinking behind the new policy was that China's population growth-rate was unsustainable. In 1950 the rate of population change in China was 1.9% each year. If this doesn't sound high, consider that a growth rate of only 3% will cause the population of a country to double in less than 24 years!

Previous Chinese governments had actually encouraged people to have a lot of children, in order to increase the country's workforce. But by the 1970s the government came to realise that current rates of population growth would soon become unsustainable.













  • Established in 1979.
  • Incentives were given for only having one child - benefits, including access to education, childcare and healthcare.
  • Fines were placed on families if they had more than one child.
  • One child was resisted in rural areas, where it was traditional to have large families.
  • Many claim, women who became pregnant second time around were forced to have abortion.
  • Boy preference - meant that a significant number of baby girls were abandoned or even killed (female infanticide).








  • The birth rate in China has fallen considerably in the last 25 years, and the rate of population growth is now just 0.7%.
  • Negative impacts - Due to a traditional preference for boys, large numbers of female babies have ended up homeless or in orphanages, and in some cases killed. In 2000, it was reported that 90% of foetuses aborted in China were female.
  • As a result, the gender balance of the Chinese population has become distorted. Today it is thought that men outnumber women by more than 60 million.


lesson-5-china-s-one-child-policy.ppt lesson-5-china-s-one-child-policy.ppt

lesson-5-china-s-one-child-fact-sheet.doc lesson-5-china-s-one-child-fact-sheet.doc

china-s-one-child-policy-the-dying-room.doc china-s-one-child-policy-the-dying-room.doc



In the 1960s Singapore had a high birth rate and a lowering death rate being in stage 2 of the DTM. The government introduced a ‘two is enough’ policy. This policy was very successful and the birth rate fell considerably to a low of nine per thousand. In the late 1980's the government realised that if the birth rate continued to fall they would not have enough workers and the economy would stop growing. So in 1987 they introduced the ‘3 or more policy’ which gave people incentives to have more children. It has not been very successful.











WHAT IS MIGRATION? - Migration is the movement of people from one place to another to live or work. Sometimes this movement may only be a short distance to a better hourse in the next street or nearby. Other migrations may involve longer distances, when a family moves to a different region or even another country.

Migrations also vary in length of time. Some people may move for just a few months or years, whilst others can move permanently.


  • INTERNAL - Within a small area. Example: Family moving to a bigger house in the same area.
  • RURAL-TO-URBAN - Moving from the countryside to the towns/cities. Examples: Young farmer leave Mid-Wales and move to Cardiff for work.
  • URBAN-TO-RURAL - Moving from the towns/cities to the countryside. Examples: Wealthy family move out of the city into a larger house in a nearby village.
  • REGIONAL - Moving from one part of the country to another. Example: Young office worker moving from Leeds to London, where she has been promoted.
  • INTERNATIONAL - Moving from one country to another. Example: Retired couple moving from the UK to Spain.
  • SHORT TERM - Moving for several weeks/months. Example: Holiday reps working abroad in the summer months.
  • LONG TERM - Moving for several years. Example: Unemployed young man from Poland migrating to the UK in search of work.
  • ECONOMIC MIGRATION - Moving to find work or a particular career path.
  • SOCIAL MIGRATION - Moving for a better quality of life or to be closer to family/friends.
  • POLITICAL MIGRATION - Moving to escape war etc.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL MIGRATION - Moving because of natural disasters e.g. flooding.
  • VOLUNTARY MIGRATION - Is when people choose to move. This is usually because of the 'pull' or the attraction of a better quality of life elsewhere (e.g. better climate)
  • FORCED MIGRATION - Is when people have no choice and are made to move. In this case they are 'pushed' out of their homes (e.g. religious persecution/natural disasters)
  • IMMIGRATION / IMMIGRANT - When someone comes into a country.
  • EMIGRATION / EMIGRANT - When someone leave a country.
  • REFUGEE - A person who has been forced to leave their homes because of persecution, wars, or other hazards such as famine.
  • PUSH FACTOR - Reasons why people want to leave an area (e.g. lack of amenities, lack of money etc)
  • PULL FACTOR -  Reasons why people want to move to an area (e.g. better employment opportunities, better services etc).
















10,000 people cross the Mexican border every week, each have their own reasons but the factors that influence them are the same. They want to live out the American Dream of a better life. Many people find living in rural Mexico a struggle because they have to survive with very little money, 40% of the population is under the poverty line this is over 3 times as the USA that has 12%. The lack of resources makes life harder to gain money too; the land is in little quantity and of poor quality. The rural communities cant support the growing population and the population can’t support their families so they try to go to America where there is minimum wage laws that will ensure they will make, relatively, a lot of money to bring home: what they make in a whole day at home would be an hours work in the USA. It is often the fathers of big families that have to cross the border, then send home bundles of money or return to their homes.


lesson-7-mexico-usa-migration.ppt lesson-7-mexico-usa-migration.ppt

mexico-usa-migration-case-study.doc mexico-usa-migration-case-study.doc











On 1st April 2004 Poland was one of ten nations joining the European Union (EU). The EU allows free movement of labour between its member countries. By July 2006, 447,000 people from Eastern Europe had applied to work in the UK. Approximately 62% (264,555) came from Poland. There are a number of ‘push’ factors encouraging Poles to leave their own country, and a number of ‘pull’ factors attracting them to the UK. Whilst the desire to experience life abroad and to learn or improve their spoken English are factors, the fundamental reason is the contrast in the two nations’ economies:

  • In Poland the unemployment rate averaged 18.2% in 2005, with some rural areas having unemployment rates of over 40%.
  • Young Poles, even with a high level of education, faced a youth unemployment rate of over 40%.
  • The UK’s unemployment rate is only 5.1%, and the country is experiencing significant skill shortages as well as a high demand for semi-skilled and unskilled labour.
  • The average number of job vacancies in the UK for the 3 months to January 2007 was 607,900. This was up by 6,200 over the year.
  • In Poland annual GDP per head in 2006 was around $12,700, compared to $30,900 in the UK.


(In 2007, Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU and in 2013 EU restrictions are set be removed, allowing nationals of Bulgaria and Romania ‘free movement’ to the UK, again increasing migration numbers)














economic-migration-poland-to-the-uk-quiz.ppt economic-migration-poland-to-the-uk-quiz.ppt


HOST country - a country that 'recieves' migrants.

ORIGIN / SOURCE country - a country that a migrant leaves/has moved away from.


 impacts-on-host-country-uk-poland-to-uk-case-study.doc impacts-on-host-country-uk-poland-to-uk-case-study.doc

impacts-on-origin-country-poland-poland-to-uk-case-study.doc impacts-on-origin-country-poland-poland-to-uk-case-study.doc


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