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Population growth

Changing fertility, mortality, and migration rates make up the total population composition    , a snapshot of the demographic profile of a population. This number can be measured for societies, nations, world regions, or other groups. The population composition includes the sex ratio    , the number of men for every hundred women, as well as the population pyramid    , a picture of population distribution by sex and age ( [link] ).

A pyramid graph depicting the 2011 population of the United States, grouped by age.
This population pyramid shows the breakdown of the 2010 U.S. population according to age and sex. (Graph courtesy of Econ Proph blog and the U.S. Census Bureau)
As the table illustrates, countries vary greatly in fertility rates and mortality rates—the components that make up a population composition. (Chart courtesy of CIA World Factbook 2014)
Varying fertility and mortality rated by country
Country Population (in millions) Fertility Rate Mortality Rate Sex Ratio Male to Female
Afghanistan 31.8 5.4% 14.1% 1.03
Sweden 9.7 1.9% 9.6% 0.98
United States of America 318.92 2.0% 8.2% 0.97

Comparing the three countries in [link] reveals that there are more men than women in Afghanistan, whereas the reverse is true in Sweden and the United States. Afghanistan also has significantly higher fertility and mortality rates than either of the other two countries. Do these statistics surprise you? How do you think the population makeup affects the political climate and economics of the different countries?

Demographic theories

Sociologists have long looked at population issues as central to understanding human interactions. Below we will look at four theories about population that inform sociological thought: Malthusian, zero population growth, cornucopian, and demographic transition theories.

Malthusian theory

Thomas Malthus (1766–1834) was an English clergyman who made dire predictions about earth’s ability to sustain its growing population. According to Malthusian theory    , three factors would control human population that exceeded the earth’s carrying capacity    , or how many people can live in a given area considering the amount of available resources. Malthus identified these factors as war, famine, and disease (Malthus 1798). He termed them “positive checks” because they increase mortality rates, thus keeping the population in check. They are countered by “preventive checks,” which also control the population but by reducing fertility rates; preventive checks include birth control and celibacy. Thinking practically, Malthus saw that people could produce only so much food in a given year, yet the population was increasing at an exponential rate. Eventually, he thought people would run out of food and begin to starve. They would go to war over increasingly scarce resources and reduce the population to a manageable level, and then the cycle would begin anew.

Of course, this has not exactly happened. The human population has continued to grow long past Malthus’s predictions. So what happened? Why didn’t we die off? There are three reasons sociologists believe we are continuing to expand the population of our planet. First, technological increases in food production have increased both the amount and quality of calories we can produce per person. Second, human ingenuity has developed new medicine to curtail death from disease. Finally, the development and widespread use of contraception and other forms of family planning have decreased the speed at which our population increases. But what about the future? Some still believe Malthus was correct and that ample resources to support the earth’s population will soon run out.

Questions & Answers

What is the role of secondary group in the process of socialization in contemporary society
Wasfa Reply
What is the role of secondary group in the process of socialization
Wasfa
What is culture?
Aniefuna Reply
Is a total way of life
Fahad
What was Durkheim's definition of religion
Christian Reply
India is characterized by ?
Tumbemo Reply
What is the different between social static
Brendah Reply
define religion
Nayyar
what is social facts?
usman Reply
How many types of central tendency
khatun Reply
we have 3 types which are mean, median and mode
Ann
ya explain it.
Awusu
How far is Marxist Assession true. That religion is just an opium of people
Thulani Reply
what is social mobility
Hacking Reply
how in the he day-to-day world is religion ruling socialogy
Mugimba Reply
By setting it's own standard of acceptable norms and behaviours, using the Holy books etc
Chimba
what are the social institutions that maintain social control in the society
Uzair Reply
what is socialization
Uzair
what is sociology
Nayyar
sociology is study of the society. it's also a social science course or mirror through which human beings look into the society.
Ameh
the social institutions are : family education religion politics
ravi
sagars siddant ke janak kon hai
Md
explain the characteristics of planned social change
Hellen Reply
important of culture
Owolabi
what is social research
Rafaqat Reply
what is soft science
Rafaqat
what is fertility
gleyn Reply
what is social interaction
Zakir Reply
the 2 pespetives
Bendu
relationship between two or more individuals through social media, peer group, groups etc
Ann
conversation between two or few people in a organisation e.g school, peer group
Zaki
hi
benny
What is a perspective
Christian

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Source:  OpenStax, Introduction to sociology 2e. OpenStax CNX. Jan 20, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11762/1.6
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