Free Essay On The Demographic Transition Model

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Development, Population, Food, Birth, Death, Africa, Countries, Education

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2021/01/11

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Warren Thompson developed the demographic transition model from empirical observations of rates of birth, economic development and death in multiple countries across North America and Europe. The framework proposes that economic development is the main driver behind demographic changes/transitions, and accounts for the changes in population from pre-industrial societies (characterized by high birth and death rates) through to the post-industrial societies (during which the death rates and birth rates decline). This model argues that as a country undergoes economic and technological development; its rate of population growth would decline. The model comprises four stages, each of which has distinct characteristics.
The first stage occurs prior to mass industrialization, developments in medicine and sophisticated food distribution. It is characterized by considerable population fluctuations due to high the high crude birth rates and crude death rates. This occurs due to the population’s limited use of birth control, high infant mortality and susceptibility to disease and natural disasters such as the 19th Century El Niño Famines that wiped out huge populations in South East Asia, Brazil and the Indian Subcontinent or the cholera epidemics that hit Great Britain. During this stage, children are a symbol of strength and source of future prosperity/income, which is why religions promotes it, as a way of ensuring continuity in the face of poor health care, hygiene, nutrition and high disease incidence. The second stage of the model starts at the onset of a country’s industrialization, progress in literacy and medicine, technological progress (infrastructure development and mass food production) and relatively efficient distribution through commerce. It is characterized by increasing life expectancy, falling crude death rates, but crude birth rates remain high. Consequently, this stage is characterized by rapid population expansion. Most developing nations in Africa, mainland Asia and Latin America are at this stage.
The third stage begins with the reduction in birth rates and fertility, but increasing advancement in food distribution and medicine mean that death rates are not only lower, but the life expectancy is greater. Consequently, population growth is persistent but at a stable rate (due to low death rates and birth rates). Other changes include labour force participation for women and women empowerment. There is also increased use of birth control and choice of smaller families due to the high costs of living. The last stage is a culmination of the above stages, leading to the emergence of a post-industrial society. Principle characteristics of this stage include extremely low crude birth and death rates, unstable and falling population due to the zero or negative natural growth. This is characteristic of developed and industrialized countries in Asia Pacific, Western Europe and North America. In Japan, for instance, the birth rates remained at 1.4 million between 2010 and 2013m before falling to about 1,001,001 (with infant mortality at 2.13 deaths/1,000 live births). On the contrary, an estimated 1.269 million deaths occurred in 2014, which means that the overall population is falling.
With the declining population and a large number of retired populations (declining workforce), coupled with the high need for public goods has resulted in high taxes and extremely high costs of living. For instance, the proportion of the population in Japan aged above 65 is 24.8%. These countries are also characterized by high household and personal incomes, especially due to high levels of education, high employment and participation of women in the labour force. In Japan, the GDP per capita was $37,100 in the year 2013 while the United States and Qatar had $49,000 and $97,000 respectively. In addition, stage four nations are characterized by high technology and high durable consumer goods consumption (e.g. cars, refrigerators, high definition televisions and washing machines). On the contrary, developing nations in Africa, mainland Asia and Latin America such as Kenya, Sri Lanka and Bolivia, there are still low household and personal incomes. In Kenya, the GDP per capita in 2015 is $1200, unemployment stands at more than 40%, and the participation of women in the labour force is low. Low incomes result in the consumption of necessities such as food as against durable consumer goods, which is why ownership of cars and electronics remains low.
In order to help developing nations increase household incomes and labour participation by women, increased investments in primary and tertiary education are key. In Kenya, for instance, the government introduced free primary education in the year 2002, which has boosted enrolment and literacy levels. According to Barro & Lee (2014), the number of years of education is positively linked to increased economic growth and development. With regard to food security, a program called the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa launched by the G8 in, hopes to bring upwards of 50 million people in Africa out of poverty by the end of 2022. Under this program, G8 nations would facilitate private investments in agriculture and rural development and varied initiatives are already underway in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique and Tanzania. Rural development and investment in agriculture will certainly ensure sustainable food production in the long term.


Barro, R., & Lee, J. (2014). Education Attainment for Population Aged 25 and Over: International Measures of Schooling Years and Schooling Quality. American Economic Review 86(2), Retrieved from
Davis, M. (2002). LATE VICTORIAN HOLOCAUSTS: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World. New York: Verso Books.
Global Policy Forum. (2014, July). The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa: Is the initiative by the G8 countries suitable for combating poverty? Retrieved April 4, 2015, from
McKinney, M. L., Schoch, R. M., & Yonavjak, L. (2007). Environmental Science: Systems and Solutions (1 ed.). New York: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
World Bank. (2015). Fertility rate, total (births per woman) . Retrieved March 21, 2015, from

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