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  Changing Birth and Death Rates  
  • You should be able to give demographic, social, economic and political reasons for changes in fertility and mortality rates.
  • It is very important to understand the importance of age structure in determining mortality rates. (i.e. Aging populations will inevitably have rising death rates as older people are more likely to die.)
  • You need to understand measurements of infant mortality and life expectancy.
  • * social - includes health, water supplies, saniatation, power (electricity) supplies, housing, transport, social cohesion (law and order, sense of community), psychological issues such as stress.

  Reasons for changes in fertility and mortality rates. Notes Print out a copy for your file - you need this! print
  Study do your own research and build up a folio of stories relating to changes in birth and death rates. Especially from our chosen case study countries. Some items below help to get you started:  
  Dustbin Game -  make a table of points you can remember for each dustbin. Try and explain why each point would increase or decrease the birth/death rate and why it would apply to an LEDC/MEDC.  

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  Zambia /Uganda - Stage 2  
  Fertility rates and the value of children in rural Africa (see activity below - Zambia).  
  Uganda Demographics Wikipedia

Population of Uganda: 31,195,754

note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2006 estimate)

Infant mortality rate 66.15 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 estimate)

Life expectancy at birth: 52.67 years                        male: 51.68 female: 53.69

Total fertility rate 6.71 children born/woman (2006 estimate)

HIV/AIDS in Uganda adult prevalence rate: 4.1% (2003 estimate)

people living with HIV/AIDS: 530,000 (2003 estimate) deaths: 78,000 (2003 estimate)    
  What issue affects high mortality rates in Uganda? Is this a demographic, social, economic or political factor?  
  Uganda - Fertility and Mortality  

There are about 29 million people in Uganda presently, and credible global population reports show that Uganda's population rate is one of the fastest growing in the world. Current United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) indicators put Uganda's rapid growth rate at 3.5 per cent per year, making it the third fastest growing country (population terms) in the world.

On an average scale, the Ugandan woman gives birth to seven children in her lifetime. This is an unusually high fertility rate, which has interestingly remained unchanged for over 20 years. Uganda's rate of contraceptive use stands at 23 per cent and many women are still sceptical and rather cynical of birth control methods.

Mr Burunde recognises the need to strengthen family planning campaigns and for the government to prioritise family planning as one of the vital measures that ought to be taken to curb the high fertility rate. Close to half of Uganda's population is under 16 years of age and will soon get into the childbearing age.

The 2007 Uganda Progress Report on the Millenium Development Goals for instance indicates that Uganda's average growth rate has been at about 5.6 percent over the past five years and this is below the 7 per cent target that is required to reduce absolute poverty to below 10 per cent of the population by 2017.

Goal 5 for instance aims to improve maternal health by reducing the maternal mortality rate by three quarters between 1990 and 2005. It is however unlikely that this target will be achieved by 2015. Estimated maternal mortality from the Uganda Demographic survey is 435 per 100,000 live births.

Uganda will need to reduce its mortality rate from 435 to 131 deaths per 100,000 if it is to meet this particular MDG by 2015. A high fertility rate at 6.7 births per woman is given as a contributing factor to Uganda's maternal mortality rate.

  What social reason is suggested for Uganda's High Total Fertility Rate?  
  What political action is suggested as a possible means of reducing the fertility rate?  
  China - Stage 3  
  One Child Policy  
  Case Study  
  Is this a demographic, social, economic or political factor leading to the fertility rate fall?  
  What other factor was used as an incentive?  
  What sort of factor was a 'resistance' to the change?  
  Year of the Dragon 2000
China birth rate hit by dragons
A loosening of China's strict family-planning rules, which permit couples only one child, may be hit by a millennium craze coupled with the auspicious year of the dragon, officials said yesterday. The result could be 60m new babies this year.
  Is this a demographic, social, economic or political factor?  
  Opinion http://shanghaiexpatlife.blogspot.com/2008/05/birth-rate-and-paying-people-to-have.html Shanghai expat
  What is the longer term demographic consequence of China's One Child policy?  
  What type of factor is Australia using to try to increase its birth rate?  
  China - Population Pyramid  
  Check the annotations of the pyramid. Try drawing a sketch of this.  
  U.K. Stage 4  
  The UK Today - Word Document - Print Witherick

The UK Today:

Between 1870 and 1939, the UK’s birth rate fell from 37 to 12 births per 1000, so taking the UK into Stage 4 of the DTM. That fall can be explained in terms of:

  • The increased use of birth control methods
  • More employment opportunities for women
  • The rise of an urban society that no longer saw any advantage in having large numbers of children
  • The growing perception of children as a drain on household finances and an impediment to socio-economic progress.

Throughout the second half of the 20th Century the birth rate fluctuated between 13 and 18 per 1000. In the 2001 census it was 12 per 1000. Are the same factors listed above still valid?

Yes – and they may have been strengthened. For example, more reliable and more readily available contraception means more effective birth control. British society has become even more urbanised and the costs of housing and raising children have rocketed. For increasing numbers of people a career comes before children. But there are other factors…

The progressive ‘ageing’ of the UK population is reducing the % of the population that is of reproductive age, so falling birth rates set in motion a downward spiral of even lower birth rates. The second additional factor is a set of changes in British society linked, to varying degrees, with legislation put in place over the last 50 years to end sex discrimination and enforce equal opportunities. These changes are outlined below:

  • Gender roles redefined – eg advent of working women and ‘house husbands’.
  • Declining incidence of marriage – the increasing popularity of couples living together outside marriage and without children.
  • Delayed motherhood – many women who choose to have children are postponing their first pregnancy until they are in their 30s and have had time to forge a career; this often results in one child families.
  • Economic pressures – the high cost of housing, living and of raising children
  • Government policy – little pro-family emphasis (reduced ‘family’/’marriage’ tax benefits)
  • More career women – increasing numbers of women are foregoing both marriage and having children.
  • The fulltime housewife’ stigma – women complain that their peers look down on them if they give up their careers and stay at home to raise children.
  • Celebrity role models – tend to promote the ‘glamour’ of having a career and returning to work immediately after giving birth, making use of child-minding services

Currently, growth in the UK population is explained by rising immigration rather than by natural increase. However, given the nature of the new immigrants – essentially young people drawn from societies where traditional attitudes about large families persist – it seems that UK’s birth rate may soon rise.

  Match the text and the diagram.  Can you identify one demographic, one social, one economic and one political factor?  
  Birth Rates Article 9.6.2007 Telegraph
  What sort of factor is this?  
  What other factor not related to migrants is  also involved?  
  Migrants push birth rate to highest in decades The birth rate has soared to a 26-year high because of a surge in immigration, experts said yesterday. Their comments followed figures from the Office of National Statistics which showed that women had an average of 1.87 children last year compared with 1.8 children in 2005 and 1.63 in 2001.

While academics said the rise had been fuelled by an increase in the number of immigrants, who have far larger families, the statistics indicated that high earners, especially older women, were also driving up the birth rate.

The ONS figures showed a seven per cent increase in births among women aged between 35 and 39. The number of children born to women aged 40 and over has doubled in the last 20 years.

Statistics also revealed that 146,944 children were born last year to mothers who did not come from Britain. In 1998 the total was 86,345. Babies born to mothers from overseas accounted for 21.9 per cent of all births last year, up from 20.8 per cent the year before.


The steady rise in the UK life expectancy figure continues for most age/sex groups. Much of the reduction in mortality rates is due to improvement in the survival rates among people afflicted by the 4 main killer diseases. During the 1990s

  • Deaths from coronary heart disease fell by 36% among men and 40% among women
  • Lung cancer deaths fell by 28%
  • The incidence of breast cancer in women fell by 24%
  • The number of stroke victims fell by 30%

Rather than increased government spending on health care the lower mortality figures are more likely to be due to education, changing lifestyles and earlier diagnosis.

With fewer births and deaths the overall population becomes still ‘greyer’. 15% of the population is now aged 65+. The % of children in the population has slipped below 20%. By 2014 there may be more aged 65+ than <16.

  What demographic factor is the key to a rise in the mortality rate?  
  Despite an ageing population what factor has helped increase life expectancy over the last decade?  
  Still life in the old dog yet! The Zimmers  
  The UK Population Pyramid 2000  
  Can you sketch this pyramid and add at least 4 annotations?  
  Germany/Russia Stage 5  
  Germany - Reasons Given for Delaying Having First Child -  
  Lower birth rates and higher death rates reduced Russia's population at a 0.5% annual rate, or about 750,000 people per year during the late 1990s and most of the 2000s. The UN warned that Russia's 2005 population of about 143 million could fall by a third by 2050. According to the CIA World Factbook estimates, Russia currently has 140.7 million inhabitants and its population declined in 2008 by 0.474%.
The improving economy has had a positive impact on the country's low birth rate, as it rose from its lowest point at 8.27 births per 1000 people in 1999 to a rate of 11.3 per 1000 in 2007. 2007 marked the highest birth rate growth the country has seen in 25 years.
While the Russian birth rate is comparable to that of other European countries, its population is declining much faster due to a higher death rate, especially among working-age males (due to an abnormally high rate of fatalities caused by alcohol induced heart disease). For comparison, the current US death rate is 8.26 per 1000 and the UK death rate is 10.09 per 1000. The Russian health ministry predicted that by 2011, the death rate will equal the birth rate due to increases in fertility and decline in mortality.
Government measures to halt the demographic crisis was a key subject of President Vladimir Putin's 2006 state of the nation address. As a result, a national programme was developed to reverse the trend by 2020, the results of which are already being seen. A new study published in 2007 shows that, as a whole, the rate of population decrease has slowed: if the net decrease in January-August 2006 was 408,200 people, it was 196,600 in the same period in 2007. The death rate accounted for 357,000 of these, which is 137,000 less than in 2006. Source: Wikipedia  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Russia
  Are the top two reasons demographic, social, economic or political factors?  
  Russia - Demographics  
  The population of Russia peaked at 148,689,000 in 1991, just before the breakup of the Soviet Union. Low birth rates and abnormally high death rates caused Russia's population to decline at a 0.5% annual rate, or about 750,000 to 800,000 people per year from the mid 1990s to the mid 2000s. The UN warned in 2005 that Russia's then population of about 143 million could fall by a third by 2050 if trends did not improve. However, the Russian state statistics service Rosstat had more optimistic forecasts in 2009, whose Medium variant predicted that Russia's population would only fall to 139 million by 2030(Low: 127 million; High: 147 million). Furthermore, in 2008 one demographic analyst (correctly) predicted a resumption in population growth by 2010]

The number of Russians living in poverty has halved since the economic crisis following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and the improving economy had a positive impact on the country's low birth rate. The birth rate of Russia rose from its lowest point of 8.27 births per 1000 people in 1999 to 12.6 per 1000 in 2010. Likewise, the fertility rate rose from its lowest point of 1.16 in 1999 to 1.54 in 2009. 2007 marked the highest growth in birth rates that the country had seen in 25 years, and 2009 marked the highest total birth rate since 1991. For comparison, the United States birth rate in 2009 was 13.8 per 1000 . While the Russian birth rate is comparable to that of other developed countries, its death rate is much higher, especially among working-age males due to a comparatively high rate of fatalities caused by heart disease and other external causes such as accidents. The Russian death rate in 2010 was 14.3 per 1000 citizens. For comparison, the US death rate in 2009 was 8.4 per 1000 .

  What factor seems to control the birth rate?  
  What factor is affecting the male mortality rate?  

  The Russian Experience  
  Word document  
  What sort of factors are affecting the birth rate?  
  Why are male mortality rates high and how is life expectancy affected?  
  Russia bids to boost birth rates 14/2/2007 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6360861.stm BBC
   Russia promises glory to parents who help pad nation’s population 28/1/2009  
  Dateline Wednesday January 28th 2009 Detroit Free Press ...
MOSCOW — In Russia, a nation with a population that has dropped by more than 6.6 million since 1991, procreation counts as an act of patriotism.
So, earlier this month, eight sets of parents with families the size of football teams gathered in the Kremlin’s gilded Andreyevsky Hall to receive the Order of Parental Glory, a bouquet of flowers and the ruble equivalent of $1,600 from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
“Thank you for your wonderful family,” Medvedev told Ivan and Nadezhda Osyak as he handed them their medal. Nearby, 13 members of the Osyaks’ brood of 17 watched and beamed.
Medals for babymaking are a part of a growing array of incentives Russian authorities have been dangling to get citizens to pad family rosters.
In the Volga region of Ulyanovsk, Sept. 12 is dubbed Conception Day, and couples who bear a child exactly nine months later — on June 12 — get cars, refrigerators or cash. Russian authorities give any woman who has given birth to a second or third child a $10,000 stipend to pay for school costs or home repairs.
But there’s a flaw in the strategy: It’s not working. The population plunge has slowed slightly, thanks to a small uptick in the birth rate. However, the country’s death rate still exceeds the birth rate, and some demographers predict Russia’s population — now at an estimated 141.4 million — will fall below 100 million by mid-century.
The Osyaks, who share a cramped three-bedroom cottage with 15 of their children in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, are more than happy to keep doing their duty.
“If God gives us an 18th baby,” says Osyak, 45, a Russian Orthodox priest, “we’ll be happy.”
  Is this attempt to increase the birth rate a demographic, social, economic or political factor?  
  The Russian Population Pyramid 2000  
  Sketch, annotate and learn.  
  Exam question:  
  Past Exam Question - Jan 2001  
  Activity: Fertility Rates and the value of children in Rural Africa  
  1 To highlight the differences in TFR in rural and urban areas of sub-Saharan Africa  
  2 To encourage an understanding of the value of children to rural families in sub-Saharan Africa  
  3. To explain fertility behaviour in rural Africa with reference to Caldwell's theory of intergenerational wealth flows.  
  1. Plot the figures below as a histogram using Excel. Cut and paste the finished graph into Word.  
Total Fertility Rates Rural Urban
Burundi 6.9 5.3
Liberia 6.8 6.1
Senegal 7.1 5.5
Zambia 7.1 5.8
  Suggest reasons for the differences in rural and urban total fertility rates.  
  2. Read the data below about Knowledge and Use of Contraceptive Methods by Zambian Women (1992)  


% of all women

Know at least one contraceptive method


Know where to get contraceptive advice


Proportion of women using any method of contraception






% of women aged 15-29 years

Reason for not using contraception


  • want children


  • partners opposed


  • side effects


  • hard to get


  • other reasons


  Now reconsider your answer to question 1 and explain why your opinion has changed.  
  3. The Principal Tasks undertaken by Children in Rural Zambia  
Task Performed by boys/girls Age at Which task is performed Season when task is performed
Farm Work
Clearing Fields, planting seeds, weeding, harvesting Boys and girls 6 years & older Rainy season
Herding cattle, caring for animals Boys 8 years & older All year
Fishing Boys 9 years & older All year
Building granaries Boys 9 years & older All year
Collecting and Transporting
Cutting Trees and collecting fuelwood Boys 8 years & older All year
Cutting grass for thatching Boys and girls 7 years & older Dry season
Selling goods in the market Boys and girls 10 years & older All year
Household tasks
Digging wells and latrines Boys 9 years & older Dry season
Going to grinding mill Boys and girls 8 years & older All year
Fetching water Girls 7 years & older All year
Housework Girls 7 years & older All year
  What tasks are being done by boys?  
  What tasks are being done by girls?  
  Is there a season when children are particularly busy  
  By what age are children performing most tasks?  
  Would you consider it to be beneficial to a rural family to have a lot of children? Justify your answer.  
  4. Attempt to explain the high total fertility rates in rural Zambia.  

  Study the flow diagram and attempt to explain the high total fertility rates in rural Zambia (or indeed Uganda if the theory is transferable).  
  5. How might rural fertility rates be reduced in rural Africa? Suggest ways in which the value of children to rural households in Africa might be reduced. Here are some ideas.  
  • making primary education compulsory
  • introducing labour saving devices in both agriculture and the domestic situation
  • using commercial fuel sources for cooking
  • bringing in piped water
  • family planning and affordable/free contraception
  • government tax incentives / penalties
  Complete the jigsaw diagram adding explanations of how each strategy would work. Print screen and crop your finished version into your notes.  

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  Source: Rural Change  
  Question: Use information from the image below to describe the global pattern of fertility rates. [5]