Delta State University

SOC 485/585

Summer I  2004


Study Questions, Week 1

Printer Friendly Version


Topic for the Week:

Introduction to Population Studies


Readings for the Week:


Joseph A. McFalls, Jr. 2003. Population: A Lively Introduction, Fourth Edition. Population Bulletin, Vol. 58, No. 4, Population Reference Bureau, Washington, DC.

Lester R. Brown, Gary Gardner, and Brian Halweil. 1998. Beyond Malthus: Sixteen Dimensions of the Population Problem. Worldwatch Paper 143, Worldwatch Institute, Washington, DC.  pp. 5−39.



(1)  What is demography?  What are some important questions that demography can help us answer?


(2)  What is meant by fertility?  What factors influence the fertility rate?  What factors affect differentials in fertility among different groups of women?


(3)  What is meant by mortality?  What factors influence the mortality rate?  What factors affect differentials in mortality among different groups?


(4)  What is meant by migration?  What factors influence the decision to migrate?  What factors affect differentials in migration among different groups?


(5)  Identify the meaning and means of calculating each of the following demographic measures, and explain why each measure is important:


• Crude Birth Rate

• General Birth Rate

• Age-Specific Birth Rate

• Total Fertility Rate

• Crude Death Rate

• Infant Mortality Rate

• Life Expectancy

• Net Migration Rate

• Population Density

• Rate of Natural Increase

• Growth Rate

• Median Age


(9)  Explain how population in the U.S. is distributed, and how this has changed over time.  Explain the same conditions for the world population.


(10)  What does the term zero population growth refer to?  What would it take for the world to reach zero population growth?


(11)  What is meant by population decline?  What are some causes of population decline?  Where is population decline currently occurring?  Is population decline likely to produce zero population growth?


(12)  How do conditions differ in countries that have achieved population stability, in countries that are on their way to population stability, and in countries that have not achieved population stability?  How do the future prospects of these country’s citizens differ?  How will the differences in these countries change the face of the globe over the course of your lifetime?


(13)  For each of the following issues, explain (a) the nature of the issue and why it is a problem, (b) the relationship between this issue and population change, (c) the factors that have contributed to or produced this problem, (d) trends in this issue over the past half-century, and (e) projected trends over the next half-century:


• Grain Production

• Fresh Water

• Biological Diversity

• Climate Change/Global Warming

• Ocean Fisheries

• Employment

• Crop Production

• Forests

• Housing