Unequal Population Distribution


(Some extracts have been taken from Richmond's Geography and History texbook  

2004  by Santillana Educación, S.L.          ISBN: 84-294-9216-X)


Read this information about population. If you find problems with vocabulary look up the words you don't understand.

Africa, Asia Minor and the Middle East have the highest growth rate. The most industrialized countries, especially  European countries, have the lowest, sometimes negative, growth rates. This is called demographic ageing: more than 15% of the population is over 65  years old.

In regards to fertility rates, the average number of children per woman is 3, but there are great contrasts  depending on the countries: African women have an average of five children, while European women have an average of  1.5, which does not ensure biological replacement.

In some countries, like China, there is a serious imbalance between male and female citizens because of political reasons. The "one-child-only" policy caused   8.7 million baby girls to be "lost" between 1975 and 1995 because  parents prefered boys if they  could only  have one baby.

To get information about migration, go to this page


Let's look at the different factors that influence the demographic structure of a population:

(Chart: Antonio Rodrigo)  

1. Write in your notebook the meaning of these words and the difference between them. Birth rate and fertility rate.

(photograph: Wikipedia)

 2.  On the map above you can see the fertility rate in the countries of the world. Where do you see the higher fertility rates? 

 3.  Click on the map to see it bigger and identify  the countries coloured in  green.  Write the countries in your notebook. 

 4.  Read about  the  factors that influence birth rates and fertility rates: 

Fill in the gaps with the words DECREASE or INCREASE:

1. Socio-economic factors: Children working in underdeveloped countries contribute to  the family's economy.( So the number of children _____________)   Children in industrialized countries cost a lot of money. (So the number of children _______________)

  1. 2. Political:  Some Governments are pro-natalist, like Iran, or anti-natalist, like China. In Iran the number of children ______________ while in China the number of children _______________
  2. 3. Cultural:  Where women have  access to education and work the number of children _______________
  3. 4. Religious:  Where religion has a great influence , the number of children ___________________

 Look   up   these   words  in  the  links  you   have  and   copy  them   in        your      notebook      
    5.     Death rate          Life expectancy          Natural growth or Increase

(photograph source: wikipedia)

There are great inequalities regarding death rates. As you can see on the map above ( Life expectancy in the world) industrialized countries have a higher life expectancy and lower infant mortality than underdeveloped countries.  

 Click on the map to see it bigger.

  6. Identify the countries with life expentancy higher than 75. Write them in your notebook.

  7. Identify those countries with life expentancy higher than 80.  How many of them have got a coastline?

The factors that influence these inequalities  are:

  1. Biological factors
  2. Social factors: Health conditions, education, environment...

The natural growth rate in the world  is about 1.2% The less industrialized regions have a higher growth rate than the average: the most industrialized regions have an extremely low rate (0.2%).  

Spain, for example, has a negative growth rate. 

 5. Look up for the word  below and copy the  meaning in your notebook     

                                            ageing or aging 

    There are three main age groups:

  • Young population ( from 0 to 14)
  • Adult population ( from 15 to 64)
  • Elderly population (+ 65) 

    The composition of the population according to age greatly affects the evolution of natality and mortality.  Underdeveloped countries are usually young countries.

 6.   Find the population data  (Central Intelligence Agency) of two different countries,  such as  Iran and   Canada ,  one underdeveloped and the other industrialized,  and  compare how young or how old each country is:

            IRAN:                                                                    CANADA: 

             YOUNG POPULATION (%)                                  YOUNG POPULATION (%)             

             ADULT POPULATION (%)                                   ADULT POPULATION (%)

             ELDERLY POPULATION (%)                                ELDERLY POPULATION (%)

Write your conclusions in your notebook.

7. We'll go further in our study of population:

You are going to  compare two different countries, but this time you'll calculate the rates and the percentages of the given factors on Excel pages:  Write the results  in your notebook:


  1. Specific fertility rates referring to the mother's age.
  2. Gereral fertility rate. (all ages)
  3. Birth rate
  1. Death  rate
  2. Infant mortality rate
  3. Life expentancy
  1. Percentage of young population
  2. Percentage of adult population
  3. Percentage of elderly population

     Now let's go to the final task:

 Construct a population pyramid.