Population structure

Different types of population structure

Studying the population structure of a country can involve examining different characteristics including age, gender, fertility (birth rates expressed as the number of babies born per 1000 people), mortality (number of deaths per 1000 people) and migration.

The population of a country is made up of different groups including the youth and elderly population, which together are known as dependents. The working population consist of people who are of working age and are economically active. The dependency ratio is the proportion of dependent people to the working population.

Some countries have a large youth population because birth rates are high, infant mortality is low and sanitation may be improving. However, those with a small youth population may have low birth rates due to lifestyle changes as children become more expensive and young people are more career-focussed.

Countries with a high elderly population often have better health care leading to longer life expectancy. However, those with a small elderly population typically have poor healthcare provision and therefore a shorter life expectancy.

The disadvantages associated with population structure

An ageing population

A country with an ageing population (an increasing proportion of elderly people) can experience a number of problems. These include:

  • fewer workers to support the financial demands of an ageing population
  • greater pressure on health and social care services
  • increased expense from pension claims, that can lead to tax increases to meet the demand
  • a higher dependency ratio

Large youthful population

A country with a large youthful population can experience a number of problems including:

  • increased pressure on education, nursing and healthcare services
  • increased dependency ration
  • increased tax rates to fund the demand for services

Small youthful population

A country with a small youthful population can experience a number of problems including:

  • the potential for population decline
  • fewer future consumers and taxpayers which can impact economic development

The advantages associated with population structure

An ageing population

A country with an ageing population can experience a number of benefits including:

  • crime rates can decline with an ageing population
  • fewer old people commute to work so there will be fewer cars on the road

Large youthful population

A country with a large youthful population can experience a number of benefits including:

  • larger availability of jobs in education, childcare and healthcare
  • a large workforce in the future, which increases domestic markets and leads to more taxes being paid

Small youthful population

A country with a small youthful population can experience a number of benefits including:

  • reduced education and healthcare costs
  • there will be a lower dependency ratio




Geography Infographics Set 1
Internet Geography Plus
Holderness Coast CPD 25th October




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