Activity 2: Working With Demographic Data

Materials Needed

  • World Population Data Sheet (PDF: 1MB)


Use the current World Population Data Sheet to answer the following questions:

  1. China and India have the largest populations in the world. Which of these two countries adds more people to its population annually? [Calculate the numbers added by applying the rate of natural increase to the population of each country. Hint: the rate is a percent]
  2. What proportion of the world's people live in Africa? In Asia? In North America? In Latin America? In Europe? In Oceania? What are the projected proportions by 2025 and 2050?

Construct a bar chart showing the regional distributions of the world's population for the current year, 2025, and 2050.

What trends are reflected in the bar chart?

  1. What proportion of the world's people live in less developed countries (LDCs) in the current year? In more developed countries (MDCs)?

What proportion of the world's people is projected to live in LDCs in 2025? In 2050? What proportion is projected to live in MDCs in 2025? In 2050?

Discuss as a class the economic and social implications of the changing proportions of the world's people in LDCs and MDCs.

  1. Examine the crude birth rate, crude death rate, and rate of natural increase of any three countries listed on the World Population Data Sheet. Discuss as a class the mathematical relationship among these three rates.

The age-dependency ratio is the ratio of persons in the "dependent" ages (under 15 and over 64 years) to those in the "economically productive" ages (15-64 years) in a population. The age-dependency ratio is often used as an indicator of the economic burden the productive portion of a population must carry—even though some persons defined as "dependent" are producers and some persons in the "productive" age range are economically dependent.

The formula for this ratio:

% of population under age 15 +  % of 65 and over

X 100

% of population ages 15-64

[Hint: The three percents will equal 100%. ]

The age-dependency ratio in the United States in 2004 was:

21% + 12%

X  100


This means that there were 49 people in the dependent ages for every 100 people of working age.

Select 2 LDCs and 2 MDCs from the data sheet and compute the age-dependency ratios for each. Discuss student responses in class. What factors do you think contribute to a high age-dependency ratio? What are some economic and social consequences of a high age-dependency ratio?