Learning Objectives

Population Change:

  • Explain population trends and patterns in births (CrudeBirth Rate), natural increase and mortality (Crude Death Rate, infant and child mortality rates), fertility and life expectancy in contrasting regions of the world.
  • Analyse population pyramids.
  • Explain population momentum and its impact on population projections.

Responses to high and low fertility

  • Explain dependency and ageing ratios.
  • Examine the impacts of youthful and ageing populations.
  • Evaluate examples of a pro‑natalist policy and an anti‑natalist policy.

Movement responses—migration:

  • Discuss the causes of migrations, both forced and voluntary.
  • Evaluate internal (national) and international migrations in terms of their geographic (socio‑economic,political and environmental) impacts at their origins and destinations.

Gender and change

  • Examine gender inequalities in culture, status, education, birth ratios, health, employment, empowerment, life expectancy, family size, migration, legal rights and land tenure.

Lesson 1: Intro to Population Geography

Looking at this infographic, describe what you learn about the world's population. (try to interpret the statistics). Then read and memorise the key terms below. 
  • Demography: the study of human populations
  • Birth rate: the number of live births per 1000 people per year
  • Death rate: the number of deaths per 1000 people per year
  • Natural increase: birth rate – death rate
  • Fertility rate: the average number of children per woman in childbearing age, assumed for statistical purposes to be 15-49 years.
  • Fecundity: the physiological capacity of a woman to produce a child.
  • Infant mortality rate: number of deaths of infancts (under 1 year of age) per 1000 live births per year
  • Child mortality rate: the number of deaths of children under 5 years of age per 1000 live births in a given year.
  • Life expectancy: the average number of years a person may expect to live from birth
  • Sex ratio: the number of males per 100 females in a population.
  • Census: an official periodic count of a population including such information as age, gender, occupation and ethnic origin
  • Population projection: the prediction of future populations based on the present age-gender structure, and with present rates of fertility, mortality and migrations.
Now watch the video to learn about the population explosion, or the rapid population growth in the 19th, 20th and 21st century.


Lesson 2: Birth rates, death rates, natural increase and the DTM

Create Q/E/C notes to sum up the information from following passage.

“According to the results of the 2015 Revision, the world population reached 7.3 billion as of mid-2015 , implying that the world has added approximately one billion people inthe span of the last twelve years. Sixty per cent of the global population lives in Asia (4.4 billion), 16 per cent in Africa (1.2 billion), 10 per cent in Europe, 9 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean , and the remaining 5 per cent in Northern America  and Oceania. China (1.4 billion) and India (1.3 billion) remain the two largest countries of the world, both with more than 1 billion people, representing 19 and 18 per cent of the world’s population, respectively.”

“Currently, the world population continues to grow though more slowly than in the recent past. Ten years ago, world population was growing by 1.24 percent per year. Today, it is growing by 1.18 per cent per year, or approximately an additional 83 million people annually. The world population is projected to increase by more than one billion people within the next 15 years, reaching 8.5 billion in 2030, and to increase further to 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100.”

Source (adapted): United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2015). World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, Key Findings and Advance Tables. Working Paper No. ESA/P/WP.241.

Watch the following video about the Demographic Transition Model and find and explain more examples for each stage.

Lesson 3: Global birth and death rates

Using this interactive map, answer the following IB-style questions. 

Describe the global distribution of birth rates.


Describe the global distribution of death rates.


HINT: How do you answer descriptive-style questions in IB Geography?
1. Identify general trend(s).
2. Give an example with data to support the trend.
3. State any anomaly with data to back it up.
4. Do NOT ever justify your trend, WHEN you are only asked to describe.
Read the following section on the factors that influence birth and death rates, and use these to explain why:
  • Uganda has a high birth rate of 45 births per 1000 of its population per year.
  • The UAE has a low death rate of only 1 death per 100 of its population per year.

Birth rates tend to be higher in countries with primary sector based rural economies, where children are considered an economic asset, as they can work on the family farms and thus contribute to the family income. Moreover, children may be viewed as a form of social security, because in LEDC’s (less economically developed countries) a state-funded pension is rare, and children support their parents in old age. Birth rates may also counter for high infant mortality rates, as parents have many children in the hope that some of them survive. Additionally, a lacking awareness of family planning and limited access to contraception, and abortion may contribute to high birth rates. Some cultural traditions and religions oppose family planning and contraception. Also from certain cultural perspectives, the gender role of women may include marrying early, staying at home and bearing children.

Death rates are low in areas with good living conditions (supply of safe drinking water and abundant food, access to advanced medical care), and also in areas with low infant mortality rates. Moreover, countries with a youthful population tend to have lower death rates than those with an ageing population (eg. UAE as opposed to Japan).

Lesson 4: Infant and child mortality

What’s the difference between child and infant mortality rates?

Child mortality rate is the the number of deaths of children under 5 years of age per 1000 live births in a given year, while…

Infant mortality rate is the number of deaths of infants under 1 year of age per 1000 live births in a given year.

The following infographic shows child mortality rates in different regions of the world.  Describe the pattern you see. Why do you think Sub-Saharan Africa has higher child mortality rates than Central Eastern European countries and Commonwealth Independent States (CEE/CIS)?
Source: Guardian
Now evaluate the causes for high infant mortality rates, based on the infographic below.

Lesson 5: Life expectancy and fertility rate

Life expectancy refers to the average number of years a person is expected to live from birth, provided that current mortality conditions remain unchanged.

Factors affecting life expectancy include:

  1. Quality of medical facilities and health care which is reflected, among others,  in levels of infant and child mortality.
  2. Whether basic needs are met (including safe drinking water, sufficient food, shelter, sanitation)
  3. Sustainabiliy and health of lifestyle
  4. Environmental factors including pollution levels
  5. Level of education (availability of choices, health-related knowledge)
  6. Frequency of catastrophic natural hazards and the quality of their management
Read the article "Global life expectancy has risen by 6 years", and then answer the questions below.
  • What pattern can be seen in global life expectancy, and why?
  • What solutions do you propose to increase life expectancy, particularly in developed countries?
Looking at the infographic below, attempt to explain how and why fertility rates differ in countries across the world.

Global fertility rates infographic

Lesson 6: Population pyramids

Watch the video below and analyse the population pyramids.
Now analyse the population pyramid of Bahrain. What are the differences between the pyramid of Bahrain and that of Spain? Why?


Lesson 7: Population momentum

Read the following explanation of population momentum and summarise the ideas in your own words.

Population momentum means that a population growth occurs despite a fall in birth rates or that population decline occurs despite an increase in birth or fertility rates. Thus, population momentum refers to the antagonising trends between population growth rate and birth rate/fertility rate.

Population momentum typically occurs in populations with a high concentration of people in the pre-childbearing and childbearing years. In these populations, the birth rate has dropped, but continues to exceed the death rate, thus accounting for continued population growth.

Lesson 8: Unit review

To test your skills on this topic so far, have a go at the IB-style question below. Here's the answers, but don't peak.
  • Explain two reasons why the Crude Death Rate is falling in most low-income countries.


  • The graph shows the population pyramid of an oil-rich Middle Eastern nation in 2012.
      • Describe the population structure of this country.


      • Suggest one reason for the structure of the economically active population.



Lesson 9: Dependency ratios

The dependency ratio is the ratio of the economically active (working class) population to the dependent population (elderly and youthful dependents).

Dependency ratio formula

Using the Internet to help you, create a map to show the countries with the highest and lowest percentages of youthful population and elderly population.

Lesson 10: Youthful population

Read the following passage and create Q/E/C notes on the benefits and disadvantages of a a youthful population.

Youthful population: Helpful or harmful?

Countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East are known for their high youthful population, with more than 45% of the population under the age of 16 in Niger, Uganda, Mali, Zambia, Burundia and South Sudan. But is a high youthful population helpful or harmful for a country? To a certain extent: both.

On the one hand, it may be argued that a large youthful population will provide a country with a large workforce for the future; however, it should be considered that the number of young dependents may be greater than the prospective available jobs in the market. Therefore, competition for jobs may be fierce and scarcity of employment may lead to social unrest, eg. in Northern Africa. However, if the country is able to meet the need for employment opportunities, it may benefit from a large tax base that can be reinvested in the county’s development.

Nevertheless, it must be noted that the present situation may differ substantially from the future context, given that a large youthful population will have to be supported by the working class.  Therefore, economic pressure may raise tax levels to increase government budgets for developing education, health services, food supply and accomodation, all while youth facilities may become more expensive due to rising demand.

In particular, rural areas may become unaible to sustain the growing youthful population, leading to rural-urban migration, and possibly shanty town development and poverty as associated consequences. Urban sprawling, and the demand for more physical space may lead to ecological destruction.

Environmental damage may also occur due to the strain on food supply, which may encourage unsustainable farming practises such as overgrazing and overcultivation. Many Sub-Saharan African countries such as Mali, Nigeria and especially the semi-arid transition region of Sahel witnessed devastation as a result of human misuse of the land. Hundreds of thousands died of starvation because the growth rate of population in this region (3% per year) exceeds the growth rate of food production (2% per year).

In contrast, innovation and revolutionary ideas may surge into youthful societies.  For instance, the revolutions during the Arab Spring may be attributed to the relatively young populations in Egypt and Tunisia, who overthrew the corrupted presidents and fought for free elections without the fear of their parents’ generations.

In conclusion, a youthful population may be both helpful and harmful to a country’s development, depending on whether the demographic portfolio can be managed by the authorities to promote economic, social and environmental progress.

Using the WeForum article, identify the countries with the youngest populations. Record the youthful population statistics for one of the countries.

Lesson 11: Ageing populations

Use the video on global ageing to explain the benefits and disadvantages of the elderly population.

Japan’s Ageing Population

Using the information and resources below, summarise the benefits, problems and solutions to Japan's ageing population.

In Japan, people above the age of 65 years make up around 40% of the population.

Japan Times

“The number of elderly people in Japan has increased, while the average family has shrunk in size.”


“Japan’s population has fallen by nearly 1 million in the past five years, in the first decline since the census began in 1920. This is bad news for the country’s shrinking economy, which is unable to depend on an expanding labour force to drive growth.”

The Globe and Mail

“Between 2010 and 2060, the percentage of Japanese citizens over the age of 75 will more than double from 11 per cent to 27 per cent, according to the government.”

“The top-heavy demographic creates huge challenges for government and the economy. Now the country is tackling the problem with innovative programs, including everything from comprehensive long-term-care insurance to robotics.”


Lesson 12: Pro-Natalist Policies

Population policies may be implemented to regulate population growth. On the one hand, this includes anti-natal population policies, in which people are encouraged/forced to have less children, however, on the other hand pro-natal population policieis encourage people to have more children.

Read this essay to learn about the pro-natal population policy in France, and take Q/E/C notes.
Watching the video above, compare the pro-natalist policy in France to the more unconventionals strategy to increase birth rates in Denmark.

Lesson 13: Anti-natalist policies

As we learned in the previous lesson, anti-natalist policies are implemented to reduce rapid and unsustainable population growth.

Using the information below, evaluate the successes and failures of China's anti-natal population policy.

The One Family One Child Policy, introduced by Mao Zhedong in 1979, transitioned to the One Family Two Child Policy in 2016.

Factsheet: Anti-natalist policy China

Lesson 14: Unit review

To test your skills on this topic so far, have a go at the IB-style question below. Here's the answers, but don't peak.

Explain three socio-economic impacts of an anti-natal policy in one named country.


Outline what total fertility rate measures.


Using this image, describe the trends in fertility rate.


Lesson 15: Introduction to Migration

Read the information below and find an example for each point. (eg. migration: Mexico to Usa, or Syria to Turkey)

Key terms:

  • Migration: the movement of people involving a change of residence. It can be internal displacement or international, voluntary or forced. It is usually for an extended period of time (more than a year) and does not include temporary circulation such as commuting or tourism.
  • Emigration: the process of leaving a country to take up permanent or semi-permanent residence in another country
  • Immigration: the process of entering a country to take up permanent or semi-permanent residence
  • Pull factors: the qualities that attract mugrants to a specific destination, eg. potential for employment, friends and family, political stability
  • Push factors: the phenomena that encourage and force people to leave their homes and seek residence elsewhere, eg. poverty, isolation, natural hazards, unrest, crop failure

Migration can be classified based on the following criteria:

  • long distance/short distance
  • international/internal
  • settlement type ie. rural-rural, rural-urban, urban-rural, urban-urban
  • voluntary/forced (including IDP’s, refugees and asylum seekers)
  • documented/undocumented
  • return migrants

(IDP’s stands for internally displaced people.)

Certain temporary movements that may be considered migration include:

  • seasonal workers
  • guest workers
  • university students (+1 year)
  • primitive migration types (shifting cultivator)

Lesson 16: Migration trends

Reading the 'Highlights: Key Facts' section of the International Migration Report 2015 and looking at the image below, compare and contrast the current migration trends to the future prospects.

Lesson 17: Pull and push factors of migration

Watch the video on the pull and push factors of migration, and take Q/E/C notes.

Lesson 18: Impacts of international migration

Using the information below, write an essay evaluating the impacts of international migration on source and destination. 

Benefits of Migration for Source Countries

Disadvantages of Migration for source countries

Benefits of Migration for destinations

Disadvantages of migration for destinations

Now compare your essay to the sample file below.

File: Migration impacts on source and destination

Lesson 19: Internal migration

Watch the video below and evaluate the impacts of internal migration in China.

Lesson 20: Theories of Migration

Read the following material once, then record yourself as you present what stuck in your mind (no peaking at the information. Listen back to the recording and compare.

Earnest Ravenstein’s ‘Pattern of Migration’

Earnest Ravenstein developed his theory on the patterns of migration after the study of Britain during the 1800s. He suggested that:

  • There is a high volume of migration over short distances, with the number of migrants decreasing as the distance increases. This may be attributed to an increased awareness for local opportunities due to poor transport, communication and technology.
  • Migration occurs in a series of steps, typically from rural dwellings to small towns, to large towns to cities.
  • Each migration stream produces a counterstream. eg. Rich people moving away to nearby villages for better living standards.
  • Urban dwellers are less migratory than rural dwellers, who are often force to move due to the limited availability of opportunities in rural areas.
  • Women are more migratory over short distances than men, as women are more likely to move for purpose of marriage.
  • Migration increases with the advance in technologies, as improved transport and communication ease the process of relocation.

Stouffer Model of Intervening Opportunities

The Stouffer model of intervening opportunities sugggests that the volume of migration is proportional to the number of opportunities at the destination, and inversely proportional to the number of intervening obstacles.

Zipf’s Inverse Distance Law

G. K. Zipf’s Inverse Distance Law (1949) suggests that the volume of migration is inversely proportional to the distance travelled – based on the distance decay model and frictional effect of distance.

Moreover, it suggests that the volume of migration is proportional to the population of its source. (ie. more people in a region = more emigrants)

Everett Lee’s Model of Pull and Push Factors

The model argues that sources and destinations posess a variety of attributes. Push factors are those attributes that cause people to move away from their source, while pull factors are attributes that attract a person to a destination. Each person perceives these attributes differently based on age, sex, marital status, etc.

Lesson 21: Introduction to Gender and Change

What factors influence gender equality? Watch the video on the Global Gender Report 2015 to find out.
Look at the image from the Global Gender Gap Index 2014. Describe (and explain) the trends shown on the map.

Gender Gap Index

Lesson 22: Gender equality in education

Read the following information on gender equality in education in Pakistan and take Q/E/C notes.

In Pakistan, women are at risk of being “attacked and killed on account of asserting their rights to education, work and generally for choosing to have a say in key decisions in their lives” (Human Rights Commission of Pakistan).

“In 2012, UNESCO stated that Pakistan showed the least progress in the region educating low-income girls: “The poorest girls in Pakistan are twice as likely to be out of school as the poorest girls in India, almost three times as likely as the poorest girls in Nepal and around six times as likely as the poorest girls in Bangladesh.” (For additional comparisons between countries and groups within the same country, see the World Inequality Database on Education.) Even when there is the possibility of enrolling in a school, actually doing so can be downright dangerous. In June 2013, militants blew up a bus carrying female university students in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, and the school has since been shuttered. And Malala — the Pakistani schoolgirl and education advocate who was shot by the Taliban for her views — addressed the U.N. in favor of free, mandatory education around the world, adding that she was focusing on women “because they are suffering the most.””

“Pakistani women who want to contribute to the economy face barriers as well. A 2012 World Bank report details the difficulties they face gaining access to capital due to social constraints — needing permission from a male to even qualify for a loan, for example. According to the study, 50% to 70% of microloans given to women in Pakistan may actually be used by their male relatives.”

(adapted from journalistresource.org, licence: CC-BY 3.0 Unported)

Looking at the following image, compare the issues of gender inequality in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Gender inequality in Afghanistan

Lesson 23: Gender equality and sex ratios

After reading the Washington Post article on the imbalance in gender ratios, answer the following questions. 

Explain three reasons why males outnumber females in some parts of the world. Give at least one example per reason.

Explain two reasons why females may outnumber males in certain areas, with an example for each reason.

Which country has the highest number of men per woman?

Which area has the highest ratio of women?

Using your research skills and the information from the factsheet below, discuss the causes, problems and solutions of an imbalanced sex ratio.

Imbalanced sex ratio in China

Lesson 24: Gender equality and life expectancy

Read the following information on gender equality and life expectancy. What other factors can you think of that could result in the gap in male and female life expectancy?

“Female human life expectancy is considerably higher than those of men. The reasons for this are not entirely certain. Traditional arguments tend to favor socio-environmental factors: men, on average, consume more tobacco, alcohol and drugs than females in most societies, and are more likely to die from some associated diseases such as lung cancer, tuberculosis and cirrhosis of the liver. Men are more likely to die from injuries, whether unintentional (automotive accidents, etc.), or intentional (suicide, violence, war).” (Wikigender)

“Scientists at Imperial College in London predict that that by 2030, men will live for an average of 85.7 years, just two years less than women. This is attributed to a drop in deaths among young men from road accidents and homicides, as well as an increase in female smokers. In 1981, the difference between sexes was six years.” (The Week)

Lesson 25: Gender equality and empowerment

Analyse the global empowerment of women in politics using infographic below. (Click to enlarge.))

Suggest reasons why female empowerment in politics has risen. [6]

You may want to consider the following points:

  • increasing career-mindedness of women
  • women’s rights movements and increased awareness for gender inequality
  • female emancipation and education
  • change of value systems
  • policies designed to increase female participation
  • millenium development goals
  • increased legal rights in some countries

Lesson 26: Gender equality, legal rights and land tenure

Read the following information about land tenure and take Q/E/C notes. 

“One of the most serious obstacles to increasing the agricultural productivity and income of rural women is their lack of security of tenure. (Land tenure refers to a set of rights which a person or organization holds in land). This, in spite of the fact that women farmers are responsible for 60 to 80 % of the food production in developing countries.

In most parts of the world, patrilineal inheritance customs have led to land in private control being in the hands of men and not women. It was established at the time of the Beijing Conference that less than one percent of the world’s property is owned by women. Historically in subsistence production systems, land was not formally owned, but use rights were vested in men and women who produced food for their kin. With formal ownership and especially titling of land, the predominant pattern of men controlling the allocation of land and this right being passed from father to son led to the current ownership pattern.” (Wikigender)

Land inheritance in The Gambia

“The male head of the family represents the family’s interests to the outside world. The family head allocates all family lands to male members of the family (land here includes rice-growing areas as well), yet remains custodian of the family’s territory. He will distribute lands to his younger brothers or, in their absence, to their sons. Upon the death of the family head, he is succeeded by the next oldest brother or, this lacking, by the elders of the sons within the extended family. The land of the next oldest brother or son is thus increased by the addition of land formally held by the deceased family head. Even the house of the family head is taken over by the oldest brother or son. This situation continues until the demise of the last brother or the youngest son.” (Gambia Report)

Suggestions for wider reading and viewing


Hans Rosling’s presentation discusses demographic issues including changes in fertility rate, life expectancy, child survival rate and income inequality in different countries.

Video Licence: Wingspan Productions Ltd 2013

The video discusses Ravenstien’s Laws of Migration, the Gravity Model,  Intervening Opportunities by Stouffer, Neoclassical Theories, Dual Labour Market Theory, Relative Deprivation Theory, World Systems Theory, Chain Migration Theory, Zelinsky Mobility Theory and Push Pull Theory by Lee


The demographic causes and consequences of the industrial revolution

World population growth

Child mortality

Controlling birth rates

Imbalanced sex ratio in China


Chloropleth map: World Population Density