Population reading Questions

Group 1 Questions
1. What factors influence a country’s population growth rate?
2. Which income group makes up the majority of the population in all the years shown in Chart 1? Why do you think this is
the case?
3. Which income group will stay about the same from 1980 to 2015? What economic and social
factors play a part?
4. Which income group is projected to show the most population growth from 1980 to 2015? What economic and social
factors play a part?
5. Based on Chart 2, which income group will cut its growth rate about in half between 1980 and
2015? How will this affect the total world population?
6. What is happening to the average annual population growth rate in low- and middle-income
countries over time?
7. Why are birth rates declining for people at all income levels?
Group 2 Questions
1. What is population momentum and how does it affect population growth?
2. Based on Charts 3.1 and 3.2, what age constitutes the greatest percentage of the population in low-income
economies? In high-income economies?
3. At what age does the gender balance of populations change? What is the effect of income at
that age?
4. Compare and contrast the age composition between low-income and high-income economies in 2000 and 2030. What
are the differences between the two? Are there any similarities?
5. How does having a mostly young population affect a country? Having a mostly elderly
6. What are the effects of migration and urbanization on a country?
Group 3 Questions
1. What effect does increasing population have on the GNP per capita?
2. How might a growing population limit access to safe water?
3. What connection might there be between population growth and deforestation?
4. What other harmful effects might increasing population have on the environment?
5. What social strategies might help countries limit population growth?
Group 1 Reading
Did You Know?
In low-income countries more than a third of the population is
under age 15, while in high-income countries less than a fifth is.
The world’s population is growing by 200,000 people a day.
Between 1980 and 2030, the population of low- and middleincome countries will more than double -- to 7.0 billion,
compared with 1 billion for high-income countries.
In the next 35 years, 2.5 billion people will be added to the
current population of 6 billion.
Population Growth Rate
Population growth rate (PGR) is the
increase in a country’s population during
a period of time, usually one year,
expressed as a percentage of the
population at the start of that period. It
reflects the number of births and deaths
during the period and the number of
people migrating to and from a country.
Between 1980 and 2000 total world
population grew from 4.4 billion to 6
billion. By 2015, at least another billion
people will be added for a total of more
than 7 billion. Chart 1 shows that most of
this growth has been, and will continue to
be, in the developing world. In 1998, 85
percent of the world’s people more than 4
out of 5’lived in low- and middle-income
countries; by 2015, it will be 6 out of 7.
Chart 1.
Global trends in population growth rates
Death and birth rates have declined over the past several decades.
People are living longer in both industrial and developing
countries because of increased access to immunization, primary health
care, and disease eradication programs. Many parents are realizing that
as health conditions improve, more of their children are likely to survive,
so they are choosing to have fewer babies. Increased access to family
planning is helping parents control the number and spacing of their
children. In addition, with greater access to education and jobs, more
women are starting their families later and are having fewer, healthier
Due to the slowing of birth rates,
Chart 2.
population growth rates have started to
decline in the many countries, although
they still remain high in some countries
because birth rates have not fallen as
rapidly as death rates. As Chart 2 shows,
population growth rate still tends to be
higher in low- and countries than in highincome countries. Even as the population
growth rate has been decreasing in these countries, the number of
people added to the population each year has been increasing because
the population base has become larger.
Group 2 Reading
Population momentum
The lack of balance between birth and death rates is particularly pronounced in many developing countries
experiencing population momentum. This phenomenon occurs when a large proportion of a country’s population is of
childbearing age. Even if the fertility rate of people in developing countries reaches replacement level, that is if couples
have only enough children to replace themselves when they die, for several decades the absolute numbers of people
being born still will exceed the numbers of people dying.
Charts 3.1 and 3.2
Charts 3.1 and 3.2 show the composition of the population by age and gender in 2000 and
2030 for low- and high-income economies. As can be seen in Chart 3.1, there is a large
difference in low-income countries between the percentage of people of childbearing age
and more elderly adults. Once this young group moves beyond childbearing age, however,
the momentum will decrease, and population can begin to stabilize so that births and
deaths balance (assuming fertility rates remain at or below replacement levels). The
reverse is true in many high-income countries where birth rates have already been low for
several decades and populations have either stabilized or in some cases begun to decline.
How does the age of its population affect a country?
In low-income countries more than a third of the population is under age 15, compared with less than a fifth in highincome countries. This means that a larger portion of the low-income countries’ population is too young to work and, in
the short run, is dependent upon those who can.
But the transition to lower population growth rates can pose problems, too. As growth
slows, the average age of the population rises and eventually the proportion of elderly,
nonworking people will increase. This puts great pressure on the working-age population
and on a country’s pension, health care, and social security systems. This is an issue
facing some high-income countries today and one that may face developing countries in
the future as their population growth rates continue to decline.
Photo 1.
People in motion
International migration has important social, economic and political significance. This is
as true for countries that lose citizens to immigration as it is for the countries in which
immigrants make their new homes. Although attention is often given to the numbers of people migrating from developing
to industrial countries, most migration in the world today occurs between developing countries.
Urbanization is also significant. The rapid growth of cities in developing countries is nearly universal. Whereas less than
22 percent of the developing world’s population was urban in 1960, by 1990 it had increased to 34 percent. By 2015 it is
expected to reach 48 percent.
The movement of people from rural to urban areas can result in greater production of goods and services, but it can also
create congestion, pollution, and a greater demand for housing, clean water, sanitation facilities, recreation areas, public
transport, health care and education. When rapid migration to cities strains the capacities of governments to provide these
necessary services, the result may be a lower standard of living for everyone.
Group 3 Reading
Population growth, the economy, and the environment
Rapid population growth rates can make it difficult for countries to raise standards of living and protect the environment
because the more people there are, the greater the need for food, health care, education, houses, land, jobs, and energy.
Adding more people to a country’s population means that the wealth must be distributed among more people,
causing GNP per capita to decrease at least in the short term.
Photo 2.
Responding to the needs of a rapidly growing population can challenge a country’s ability
to manage its natural resources on a sustainable basis. For example, people may not be
able to get access to safe water because more and more households, farms and
factories are using increasing amounts of water. Deforestation may occur as trees are
cut to provide fuel for cooking, building materials, or land for grazing and
agriculture. Desertifcication may occur as land that has been intensively farmed
becomes depleted of its nutrients or eroded when trees whose roots systems once
anchored the soil are gone. The air may become polluted as people crowd into cities, the
number of cars increases, people use more and more energy, and economies continue
to industrialize.
Strategies for change: Affecting population growth rates
Parents tend to have larger families when they fear that many of their babies may die, when they need laborers to work on
the family farm or business, when they want to ensure that they themselves will be cared for in their old age, and when
they lack access to education and to family planning if they want it.
Experience shows that three of the most successful strategies to reduce fertility rates are to ensure that people 1) have
greater access to primary health care and family planning services, 2) receive a basic education, especially girls and
women, and 3) have government services that help protect them when they are sick, old or unemployed.
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