GEOG 384: POPULATION GEOGRAPHY Demographic Profile: China and Canada

GEOG 384: POPULATION GEOGRAPHY Demographic Profile: China and Canada

For the end of term paper project, each one of you should pick one less developed country and one more developed country. Preferably these are countries in which you have some personal interest. It is best that each one of you pick a different combination of countries, consulting the Population Reference Bureau’s “World Population Data Sheet” at and/or visit the International Database of the U.S. Bureau of the Census at: It is important for you to choose a country as soon as possible so that you can begin searching for data sources. Background data on most countries is available in the Library of Congress Country Studies series ( and from a similar set of studies produced by the CIA ( To produce an effective profile, the following data should be available for at least two different dates:


The objectives of the project are to:


  • build demographic profiles of a less developed and a comparison more developed country;
  • analyze changes over time in the demography of the countries under study;
  • relate demographic changes to broader social changes that are occurring in each country;
  • compare the causes and consequences of population growth in the two countries.


Each student is provided with the following set of instructions:


Your assignment is to write a 10-15 page paper (typed, double-spaced) using the questions below as guidelines. It is not necessary for you to address every question I have raised. Some questions may be unanswerable or irrelevant for your chosen countries and you may think of others that seem better. In deciding which issues to focus upon, use your own judgment or consult with me. The guidelines for organizing your countries’ demographic history in conjunction with the reading in Weeks, Population, Eleventh Edition, are as follows:


Chapters 1 and 2 Describe the history of population growth over time in each country. What is the current population, and how has the population grown over time? What is the current rate of growth? And what is the implied doubling time? What are the crude birth and death rates, the rate of natural increase, the incidence of internal migration, and the rate of international in- or out-migration?


Chapter 3 Do some research on the prevailing political philosophy of your chosen countries. Would this philosophy come closest to Malthus, Marx, or someone (or something) else? How much of the demographic transition have these nations experienced? Discuss this in terms of each of the transitions comprising the overall demographic transition. Is there evidence of rapid rural-to-urban migration that might be consistent with the perspective of demographic change and response?


Chapter 4 Discuss the sources of data available for your countries, including census data, vital registration data, and survey data (if it is a developing country see if any data are available from the Demographic Health Surveys:


Chapter 5 Find as much information as possible about mortality–age/sex-specific mortality rates, life expectancy, and deaths by cause–for at least two different dates. Compare the data. What are the mortality trends? Two sources you might consult for information, if you cannot find official government publications, are: and/or as well as Murray, Christopher J.L. Murray and Alan D. Lopez, The Global Burden of Disease: A Comprehensive Assessment of Mortality and Disability From Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors in 1990 and Projected to 2020 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), 1996. (optional) Given the prevailing cultural norms, what is the likely rank-ordering of “real” causes of death, compared to those given in the vital statistics?


Chapter 6 Using survey data (such as: or or any other available source investigate how each of the intermediate variables seems to operate to influence fertility levels (some of this information may be gleaned from tables in the World Bank’s annual World Development Report–see Find or calculate as many of the different measures of fertility as possible for at least two different dates (the U.S. Bureau of the Census’s International Database is particularly useful for this: What changes have been occurring over time? Do different measures of fertility yield somewhat different interpretations of trends? Draw as many conclusions as you can about the probable underlying motivations for the observed fertility levels and trends over time. Which theories of the fertility transition seem to best explain the data that you have acquired for each country?


Chapter 7 What are the patterns of internal migration, especially rural-to-urban migration? What are the patterns of migration from or to other countries? Are there any studies available relating migration to other demographic (such as fertility) or socioeconomic (such as labor force participation) variables? Are the data available to calculate migration rates by age and/or to calculate the migration ratio? Which of the various theories of migration seem best able to explain patterns of migration within, to, and/or from these countries? A good resource for information is Migration News, which is online at: and the Migration Information Source:


Chapter 8 Construct age/sex pyramids for two different dates for each country by going to: Also calculate the average age and the dependency ratio for those two dates. “Read” the age structure, discussing the implied history of population growth, and the implications for the future of the current cohort structure. What is the number and proportion of older people in the population, and how have those figures been changing over time? How are older people treated? Are there differences in sociodemographic characteristics between the young and old in society that would suggest a source of future social change as new cohorts flow into the older ages? What is the sex ratio at the older ages, and how do you account for it?


Chapter 9 What have been the changes between two recent dates in the sizes of the rural and urban populations? Are data available on rural and urban differences in rates of natural increase? What are the long-run historical changes in the percent urban? Do urban places tend to have relatively high or low population densities? What is the density of the rural population? Go to the website and click on the satellite view so that you can visually contrast the differences. Are there any studies available of rural or village life, with which you can contrast the human condition in the cities?


Chapter 10  Describe the trends over time in family and household structure in each country. Are they related to changes in age at marriage and/or to changes in gender roles? How do the population characteristics of women compare with those of men? Have there been recent changes in education and labor force participation, for example, that might suggest a rise in the status of women? How has fertility yet been affected by the status of women? What evidence can you bring to bear on that question?


Chapter 11 Using resources such as the United Nations Yearbook of National Accounts Statistics or the World Bank’s most recent World Development Report (, estimate the level of economic well-being of the two populations and assess changes over time for the same dates for which you have demographic data. Are there any discernible trends in the relationship between population changes and economic changes in the country? What is the government position with respect to economic development and population growth? Can you assess the influence of the current age/sex structure on the future development prospects? Using a resource such as the World Bank World Development Report evaluate the likely environmental impact of population growth in this country. Describe the specific kinds of environmental changes known to have occurred during at least the last 10 years. Using the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization’s data,, determine the level of food production, and trends over time. What are the principal products grown? What are the levels of imports and exports of major agricultural products? Has per person production been increasing? Has the number of tractors been increasing? Has the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and other concomitants of the Green Revolution been increasing over time? Has the amount of arable land been increasing or decreasing? Has the acreage devoted to forest been declining? How has globalization affected each of these countries?


Chapter 12 How is each country coping with population growth? What are the projected changes and what are the demographic challenges facing each country?


Summary  Summarize your comparisons of the two countries, and discuss what you think the future holds for each country. Evaluate the different roles that demographic change may play in the future of each country. How do you think each country will cope with those change?

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