Demographic Transitions

Demographic transition is the process in which a nation transitions from being a less industrialized society, with high birth and death rates, to an industrialized nation, with lower birth and death rates. Many countries have already been through this transition including the United States, England, and Canada.

The demographic transition to an industrialized society is detrimental for the environment because industrialized societies tend to use up nonrenewable resources and give off pollution. Industrialized nations have the largest ecological and carbon footprint relative to developing or nonindustrialized countries. Fortunately, there are some benefits to the process of demographic transition, including lower birth and death rates. Essentially, people in industrialized countries have fewer children and this in turn helps control the overall population size.

Demographic transition involves the following five stages:

Stage 1 High birth rate, high death rate, low population size
Stage 2

High birth rate, decreasing death rate, increasing population size

Stage 3 Decreasing birth rate, decreasing death rate, increasing population size
Stage 4 Low birth rate, low death rate, high population size
Stage 5 Low birth rate, low death rate, population size decreasing

It should be noted that stage 5 is controversial, and it is sometimes not considered to be a stage. This is partially because so few countries are at this stage.

The following graph depicts the various stages of demographic transition:

Using the stages listed above, create a demographic and environmental timeline for one industrialized country, excluding the United States. The following are a few suggested industrialized nations:

  • Canada
  • England
  • Germany
  • Russia
  • Italy

You can download the Demographic and Environmental Timeline—United States of America to review an example of such a timeline.

Include the following points in your timeline in order to examine the advantages and drawbacks of demographic transition in your selected country:

  • Major historical changes that caused the shift from one stage to another (if available).
  • Changing population size through time (increasing or decreasing).
  • Increase or decrease of birth and death rates through time—particularly when considering the process of industrialization.
  • Environmental impact of this transition.
  • Dates (if available), series of events, and scholarly references for these items.

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