What is Demography?
• Demography is the scientific study of the
characteristics and dynamics (change) of human
populations including their size, growth,
movement, density, and composition.
• Another way to define demography is to say that
it is the study of statistics about people, how
these statistics have changed and are changing,
and the effects of these changes on social,
economic, and environmental conditions.
• Some of the statistics that demography covers are:
– Birth Rates
– Death Rates
– Migration (including immigration and emigration)
– Economic Status
– Marital Status
How is Demography Used?
• Most frequently, demography is used in the
– Marketing and consumer trends
– Social Planning
– Human Resources
• Historians, economists, geographers, and even
epidemiologists use demographics to help them to
explain changes and trends.
• Politicians, social planners, and health officials use
demographics to help them predict future trends
and plan for future needs.
• Demographics are used in making many major
decisions. Lawmakers use demographics to help
them decide how many immigrants will be allowed
to enter Canada; school boards will use
demographics when they are deciding whether to
build a new school or hire new staff; car companies
use demographics in deciding whether to build
more SUVs or more Smart Cars.
Demography and the Social Sciences
• Demography is a tool frequently used by social
scientists to explain and predict specific
changes and challenges in society.
• PSYCHOLOGISTS might study demographics in
order to understand the people they are
treating and to help them focus psychological
research, education, and treatment. For
example, if Canada’s population is growing
older should psychologists be researching the
correlation between ageing and depression?
• ANTHROPOLOGISTS might use demography
to help explain and understand why a culture
behaves the way it does. For example, can
anthropologists make any connections in
North American cultures between declining
birth rates and education?
• SOCIOLOGISTS might use demography to help
explain certain stresses on a society, to
explain why a society has changed or to assist
in social planning. For example, should
available money to spend in a community go
toward a new playground or toward a new
senior citizens activity centre?
• Take the demographics of the family…
• The family is the basic unit of social activity.
Therefore, the sociologist and the
anthropologist are interested in the status,
roles, and decision-making of family members.
In some societies, having many children gives
prestige to the mother and to the family. Why
people want children is a question that may
concern a psychologist.
• Social Scientists study demographics with three
major questions in mind:
1. What are the agents (causes) of change?
2. What are the impediments to change?
3. What are the effects of change?
• Social Scientists study demographics using a
variety of research methods (which we will
explore later in this course). These can include
interviews, statistics, surveys, observations, and
reviews of existing literature.
• Rates of growth are determined by the
(Birth Rate + immigration) – (Mortality Rate + emigration)
• Take a look at the image below. It illustrates population growth
rate patterns for the world. Growth rates are determined by the
formula above. Please answer the questions below.
• Take a look at the following demographics.
Think about the questions a social scientist
might ask about them. Think about what
effects these demographics might have on
• What are some of the changes these
demographics might prompt in society?
• What are some of the challenges they might
create for society?
Our Changing World
• How are world is rapidly changing
The World Today
• In 2006, the world’s population was 6.5 billion
• China and India made up about 20% of the
total world’s population.
• The world’s birth rate in 2006 was 20.05 births
per 1000 people.
• The average number of births in the world in
2006 was estimated at 2.59 births per woman.
• How does Canada compare?
• The Canadian population was 33 million
• 39th most populous country
• 10.78 births per 1000 people
• Average number of Canadian births was
estimated at 1.61 babies per woman
• Life expectancy at birth is often used as an indicator
of the overall health of the population
• 1980-1998, the avg life expectancy in the world rose
from 61-67 years
• In 2006 worldwide life expectancy was 64.77
• In Andorra, a child born in 2006 could expect to live
until the age of 84
• Lowest life expectancy is in Swaziland – in 2006 life
expectancy was 33 years
• Life expectancy was 80.22 in 2006
• What does this tell you about the health of
the Canadian population?
• In the developing world, the average number of births has
fallen from 5.9 children in the late 1970s to 3.9 in the 1990s.
• The following countries are the ten countries with the highest
• Sierra Leone
• Burkina Faso
• The median age of a population is the age
where half the people are older and half of
the people are younger.
• In 2006 median age of world was 27.6 years
• Median age was 38.9 years
Rural vs. Urban
• Demographers project that the world’s
population will be more urbanized in the
• Urban Population
– 2000 = 2.86 billion
– 2030 = 4.98 billion
• Rural Population
– 2000 = 3.19 billion
– 2030 = 3.29 billion