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Population Structure

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Population Structure

Population structure (also referred to as population composition) is the distribution of different social groups across a nation or area. There are many various aspects to learn about when studying population structure, such as: the meaning of population structure, the characteristics of the structure, the factors impacting these characteristics, how to measure it, and the importance of the structure for a country. Read on so you can learn more about it, too!

The meaning of population structure in geography

Population structure is how a population can be broken up or distributed. This includes gender, age, ethnicity and density

Population structure and characteristics

Population structure is made up of many different types of social groups such as age, gender, and ethnicity. These characteristics change between areas and have a heavy effect on the area itself. This is most noticeable between rural and urban areas where different groups are more prominent and therefore shape the area differently. Characteristics are the groups that make up a population, i.e. how to describe a population. This is not to be confused with factors that affect the structure itself.

Age

Age is a highly important characteristic as it not only affects how a place develops, it also affects how quickly it changes. Older residents are more likely to live in rural areas for less noise and because they will not be working, they do not need to be near to the higher amount of jobs. Young people are likely to live in urban areas to be close to universities, services and employment.

Population Structure, Age, StudySmarterAge can range in an area greatly, especially if families live together, Pixabay

Gender

As time has progressed, the difference between the genders has decreased but there are still small impacts they have. Males are more likely to be found in more labour-intensive jobs (like farming and isolated industries such as oil rigs), whereas women are more likely to work in office jobs or the service industry.

As a characteristic, gender affects population structure in a very interesting way- women are more likely to live longer than men, so the population structure of an area is likely to reflect this. When we talk about gender and population structure, it is normally to find out what kind of services are required. If there are more women in an area, perhaps more maternity hospitals are needed. If the population of young adult men and women is quite large, perhaps more nursery schools and playgrounds will be needed.

Ethnicity

Urban areas are more likely to have a greater variety of ethnicities and nationalities because many immigrants choose areas with better jobs and services.

Clustering: large numbers of the same ethnic group move to the same area. Often because it is a comfort to live near those of a similar culture.

In rural areas, clustering is less likely to happen meaning the variety of international cultures is much smaller. In rural areas of the UK, the white demographic is much higher, whereas large cities such as London are much more multi-cultural.

Density

Density is the number of people per unit of area. It is one of the most important characteristics as it determines the kind of area and has the most profound effect on it. Areas with a high-density population often have access to more goods and services within developed countries, which makes the area more attractive to businesses, and support is more likely to be given to the area.

However, this is not always the case. In less developed countries, such as India or China and even parts of developed countries (like the UK and USA), this support is missing and these areas are left to struggle and often break down.

Lower density areas are more likely to use support from councils and local systems, this includes suburbs or smaller towns.

Factors affecting Population structure

3 main factors affect population structure:

  • Birth Rate
  • Death Rate
  • Migration

Where characteristics describe the structure of a population, factors are what alter them by growing, reducing or changing them.

Birth Rate

The birth rate is the number of babies born in an area. It is usually measured in live births per thousand of the population in a year. If an area experiences a high birth rate, this increases the youth demographic of the population whilst also increasing the overall population and making the area denser. However, a high birth rate does not always mean that an area has a high youth population. If an area also has a high infant mortality rate the youth population can be quite low.

Death Rate

The death rate is the opposite of the birth rate, it is the number of people who have died in the area. Much like birth rate, it is measured per thousand of the population in a year. This can affect any age group. If the death rate is high this decreases both the overall population and the population density. Though this is not always the case- if the death rate is high but the birth rate is higher, a population will still grow. This is common in many developing countries.

Migration

Migration is also an important factor to consider when looking at population structure. Migration is the act of people moving from one place to another. Migration can be internal- a person moving within their own country. For example, a person who moves from a rural area to an urban area. Migration can also be external- a person moving from one country to another. External migration is also called emigration.

Immigrants are migrants who permanently move from one country to another. Migrants are people who move from one country to another often temporarily, usually for economic purposes. Refugees are people who have no choice in leaving their home, e.g., war, religious persecution or persecution based on gender or gender identity.

Overall, migration can heavily impact population structure. Increases and decreases in population occur due to migration. High levels of immigration increase population density, whereas high levels of emigration decrease population density. Migration can also impact age, gender and the ethnic group of an area depending on what sort of migration the area experiences.

How is a population structure recorded?

The two most useful ways that population structures are recorded are censuses and population pyramids.

Censuses

Censuses are the most simple way to show population data. This is done by councils and governments and shows the data in graphs with a list of numbers. These can be very hard to read and overwhelming but hold more information than a population pyramid.

Population Pyramid

Population pyramids are more visually simple than censuses but hold a lot less info. On either side of the graph, it shows the number of people in each group, making it much easier to understand and analyse.

population structure, population pyramids, StudySmarterAn image showing a population pyramid of the world's population in 2018, Wikimedia

The importance of population structure

The population structure is important because it determines how an area will develop, affecting which businesses will succeed, how the population will change, and giving an idea as to the culture that the area will produce.

Key groups that record population structures include governments and local authorities. This allows them to determine services and resources that an area requires and allows them to better choose what things might be needed.

An area with a high amount of older people and a low amount of young people will decide to build a senior centre rather than a youth club.

Population Structure - Key takeaways

  • Population structure is the breakdown of different groups and amounts of people in an area.
  • It is important as it affects the area itself.
  • There are 4 main characteristics of the population structure: age, gender, ethnicity, and density.
  • There are 3 main factors affecting the population structure: birth rate, death rate, and migration.
  • The two best ways to measure population structure are censuses and the population pyramid.

Frequently Asked Questions about Population Structure

It is the collection of different groups of people in one area.

The makeup of different social groups in one area.

The main components are: age, gender, density, and ethnicity.

How to define population structure: 

Population structure simply means the way a population of an area can be broken down into groups. For example, age, gender, and ethnicity.

The three types of population structure are: 

  1. Expansive (a young population and is growing)
  2. Stationary (there is neither increase nor decrease in population)
  3. Constrictive (an aging population, decreasing)

Final Population Structure Quiz

Question

What is the definition of population structure?

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Answer

The make-up of different population characteristics.

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Why is population structure important?

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It affects the area in a number of ways.

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What are the 4 main characteristics of population structure?


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Age, Density, Gender, Ethnicity.

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How does density affect population structure?


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Higher density areas are more likely to be urban and get more funding from councils whilst rural areas are the other way around.

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How does age affect population structure?

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Older populations are attracted to rural areas which are less populated, and younger working ages are based in urban areas which are more likely to be densely populated.

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How does gender affect population structure?

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Not a great deal but certain jobs are predominantly based on gender (i.e oil rigs).

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How does ethnicity affect population structure?

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It increases the variety of ethnicities in the area.

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What are the three main factors that affect population structure?

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Birth Rate, Death Rate and Migration.

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How does the birth rate affect population structure?

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It increases the youth population characteristic and the overall population.

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How does the death rate affect population structure?

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It decreases the overall population and any of the population characteristics.

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How does migration affect population structure?

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It can both increase or decrease any of the population characteristics, also increasing or decreasing the overall population.

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What is a rural area?


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An area of low population density, outside of urban areas. Rural areas are more agricultural.

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What is an urban area?

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An area of high population density and more jobs available, usually cities or large towns.

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True or False? Birth rate increases the younger age groups of a population.


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True

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True or False? Migration is one of the key characteristics of population structure.


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False. It is one of the factors affecting population structure.

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True or False? Urban areas typically have a lower population density than rural areas.

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False. They have a high population density and rural areas have a low population density.

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Which of the following is not one of the main factors affecting population structure? Migration, Birth Rate or Age?


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Age as it is a characteristic of population structure.

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How many main factors that affect population structure are there?

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3. Migration, birth rate and death rate.

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What is the best way to measure population structure?

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Census

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Which of the following is a characteristic of population structure? Migration, Gender, Death rate.


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Answer

Gender, the other two are factors affecting population structure.

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