Countries Classified Through Demographic Transition Questions
This first question is to ensure that you understand the concept of the demographic transition and the relationship among mortality, fertility, and income. More broadly, it will encourage you to think critically by having to come up with a theoretical reason for your choices. It will also expose you to a variety of sources of demographic data and will give you experience in creating charts and maps. Your grade will depend on the neatness and clarity of your maps and charts, the thoughtfulness with which you answer the questions, and your understanding of the course lectures and readings.
- Early in this quarter, we talked about how data get put into categories and how arbitrary some of those categories are. We used race as an example, but many other categories must be defined arbitrarily. In this exercise, you have an opportunity to define some categories of your own. You are to group countries according to their stage in the demographic transition. Based on your reading of the textbook, your class notes, and the article by Ronald Lee, you will have to create the criteria for each stage based on available data (see accompanying Excel file) and then sort countries into each category. To make this exercise a little more manageable, you should restrict your analysis to the African continent. Provided for you https://www.un.org/development/desa/dpad/least-developed-country-category.html (Links to an external site.)), and the United States Census Bureau’s international database (https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/international-programs/about/idb.html (Links to an external site.)). from the Population Reference Bureau, but you can also find data from the United Nations at
Then you will map your choices by country (mapchart.net is easy to use and free). Once you have made a map and labeled it according to the stage of the demographic transition, download it so that you can embed it in your final exercise. Remember to title the map. Then, in no more than two double-spaced pages, explain your criteria for creating the categories that you did. Why do you think those criteria are reasonable? Do you see any patterns in the map? If so, what?
that I made of the demographic transition in countries in the Middle East. For some reason, the map for the Middle East did not provide country names, but you should be able to get them for Africa. If I were writing up a summary of these countries, I would start by defining each stage of the demographic transition. Next, I would assign specific levels of mortality, fertility, and other variables to specific stages. For instance, any country with below-replacement fertility clearly should be in Stage 4. Then I would argue that because of the history of warfare in this region, no regional development patterns really stand out. Currently war-torn Yemen (deep red) is the only country in the Middle East that arguably still seems to be in Stage 1 of the demographic transition because of its high infant mortality rate (43) and high total fertility rate (3.9). No other country in the region has mortality or fertility rates that high. Iraq, also war-torn, and the Palestinian Territories appear to be in Stage 2, although at the lower end, heading to Stage 3. I left them at Stage 2 because their TFRs were above 3. [Note: This is my arbitrary interpretation of the cut-off between Stage 2 and Stage 3 for this region. Recall that historically, different parts of the world maintained different fertility levels in Stage 1, so you may need to set your cut-off for the various stages of the demographic transition in Africa at a different place than I did.] Most of the countries in the Middle East seem to be in Stage 3 of the demographic transition because of their relatively low infant mortality rates and total fertility rates, which are only slightly above replacement level. Saudi Arabia’s TFR is at replacement level, but its somewhat higher IMR and lower life expectancy suggest that it has not yet reached Stage 4. Several countries, such as Turkey, Bahrain, and Lebanon, appear to have crossed the threshold into Stage 4, because their mortality rates are below 10 and their TFRs are at or below replacement level of 2.1 children per woman. Two such countries – Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates – have reached very low levels of fertility, at 1.5 or below. I could not assign a stage to Israel, because it is an outlier. It is the only highly developed country in the world with a high TFR (3.1).
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As you write up this assignment, you may want to be more specific about the cut-off points you used for each stage, since you will be dealing with more countries.