Population Study 101 – Jason


Before I get into analyzing the case studies of birth rates, I decided to get myself familiarized with the set of basic knowledge for population studies by making use of the e-library of University of Minnesota. Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World is a textbook used for courses offered by the Department of Sociology of the university, and the Chapter 19 of the book, titled “Population and Urbanization,” provides explanations for basic principles and vocabulary which will be the basis of the future case studies I will be conducting.

This post will also serve as a glossary that explains the demography jargons, which will be a part of the future posts to come.


As mentioned in the previous blog post, population study belongs to an academic discipline called demography, which is a field of study that is concerned with the change in population, both in size and composition. Demography generally covers fertility, mortality, migration, and the interrelations among the three.


Fertility refers to the number of births within a given country or an area. Generally, there are three methods to measure fertility.
Crude Birth Rate is one of the three methods, which measures the annual number of births per 1,000 people. It is calculated by dividing the number of birth by the total population, multiplied by 1,000. “Crude” stands for how the measurement takes account into all the population, in addition to the number of women in childbearing age (“Chapter 19: Population”).
General Fertility Rate, also known as birth rate or fertility rate, uses the same calculation method as Crude birth rate, but the number of birth is divided by the number of women who are at the age of 15 to 44: the range of age for women generally considered as childbearing age (“Chapter 19: Population”).
Unlike the two methods above, which are both concerned with the number of births only per year, Total Fertility Rate measures the average number of children women are expected to have in her lifetime (“Chapter 19: Population”).
Fertility is also influenced by many factors. The difference in income level is one of the well-known factors of fertility rates. In the domestic level, people in low-income households tend to have less access to contraception methods and medical support necessary for family planning. In the international level, households in some developing countries might rely on children as a labor force, prefer male baby to female baby due to the traditional gender roles, or try to have more children in an attempt to offset the high mortality rate of infants (“Chapter 19: Population”). Current events are also major factors that influence fertility rates. It is famous that the fertility rate in the US decreased during the time of the Great Depression, whereas it increased during the post-WWII period. Furthermore, fertility rates also differ among races and ethnicities. For example, Latino women statistically have more children in their lifetime compared to women of other race (“Chapter 19: Population”). Fertility rates also vary among age groups. High teen fertility rates have once been an issue in the US, but have been decreasing thanks to the spread of education for family planning.


Mortality is, as self-explanatory it is, refers to deaths of people. Unlike fertility, mortality has only one measurement considered: Crude Death Rate. It is measured just as Crude Birth Rate, the number of deaths divided by the total population, multiplied by 1,000(“Chapter 19: Population”).


Migration, movements of people into and out of a given region, is another major factor in demography. The inflow of people from outside the region is called immigration, and the outflow of people from the region to the outside is called emigration. There are mainly three measurements concerned with migration. In-migration rate is the number of immigration for every 1000 people, whereas out-migration rate is the number of emigration for every 1000 people in a given region . Net migration rate measures the total migrational change in the population, measured by subtracting the out-migration rate from the In-migration rate (“Chapter 19: Population”). Whereas movements of people inside a country are called domestic migration, movements of people across different countries are called international migration. One way to see the connection between migration and fertility is the occasion of the rise of overall fertility rate in the US due to the increase of immigration of the Latino population (“Chapter 19: Population”).

Population growth and decrease

Natural Growth Rate is a general indicator of a country’s demographical trend. It is calculated by subtracting the crude death rate from the crude birth rate. If the natural growth rate is negative, it means that the population of the country is decreasing (“Chapter 19: Population”).

Many developed countries now face population decline. Replacement level fertility is a level of total fertility rate necessary for a country to maintain its current population level: 2.1 children per woman in her lifetime (“Chapter 19: Population”). The trend is accelerating even more by the promotion of women’s social participation. Countries with decreasing population are endorsing policies that encourage women to have more children, which are called Pronatalist policies (“Chapter 19: Population”). Some government offer subsidies and others provide tax incentives to create the environment that supports people to raise children.

When I was in 5th grade, I remember at the time of ruling political party in Japan decided to give out money that is equivalent to $100 for each child in all Japanese households. I grew up hearing adults discuss the necessity of such policies on TV and at home. Whereas such efforts are made to increase fertility in industrialized countries, such as Japan, excessive population increase also poses concerns for a shortage of food in developing countries. Maintaining the appropriate number of population is surprisingly difficult, and learning the basics of demography offered me a glimpse of such complexity behind this discipline of study.

For the next blog post, I am considering to conduct a case study on Germany’s effort to deal with population planning based on the knowledge I acquired.

Works Cited

“Chapter 19: Population and Urbanization.” Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World, Minneapolis, U of Minnesota Libraries Publishing, 2016. University of Minnesota Libraries, University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing, open.lib.umn.edu/sociology/. Accessed 19 Oct. 2018.

Demography. Careers in Financial Services, careersinfinance.mfsa.com.mt/Files/marketing.jpg. Accessed 9 Oct. 2018.

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