# Introduction to Sociology

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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
VU
Lesson 35
POPULATION STUDY AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE
Demography is the statistical description and analysis of human population. It refers to ascertaining the
numbers and distribution of people, changes in the numbers and distribution of people over time, age and
sex composition, birth and death rates among various quantities of populations.
Study of population seeks to discover the causes and consequences of population changes. The changes in
population take place primarily due to changes in births, deaths and migration, which are referred to as the
three components of population change. As an interplay of these three components one looks at the
number of total persons which is usually referred to as size; the characteristics of population, called
composition; and where are these people located, labeled as distribution of population. Prior to the
discussion of the significance of the study of population it seems pertinent to explain some of the basic
concepts likely to be used in this discourse.
BASIC CONCEPTS
Crude Birth Rate: The number of live births per year per thousand of the population.
Total births in a specific year
---------------------------------- X 1000
Total population in that year
The CBR is "crude" because (1) it does not take into account, which people in the population were actually
at risk of having births, and (2) it ignores the age structure of the population.
Crude birth rates are very general statistics that are useful for making overall comparisons between different
groups, societies and regions.
Fertility: The number of live-born children the average woman has. It may be called child women ratio.
Total No. of children aged 0-4 in year X
-------------------------------------------------
Total No. of women aged 15-49 in year X
A fertility rate is usually calculated as the average number of births per thousand women of childbearing age
(15-49 years).
Total births in year X
----------------------------------- X 1000
Total women aged 15-49
Fecundity: The potential number of children a normal woman is biologically capable of bearing. It is
physically possible for a normal woman to bear a child every year during part of her life when she is capable
of conception. While there may be families in which a woman bears twenty or more children, fertility rate
are always much lower than fecundity rates because social and cultural factors limit breeding.
Crude Death Rate: The number of deaths per thousand of the population per year.
Total death in a specific year
----------------------------------- X 1000
Total population in that year
Crude death rates are also called as mortality rates.
Mortality: The number of deaths in a population.
Infant Mortality Rate: The number of babies per thousand live births in any year who die before reaching
the age of one year.
Life Expectancy: The number of years an average person can expect to live. Life expectancy has increased
in most societies in the world in the past century.
Life Span: The maximum number of years that an individual could live.
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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
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Migration: The Permanent movement of persons over a significant distance.
International migration: Migrant crosses the boundary between one country and another.
Emigrant: When persons leave their country.
Immigrant: When persons arrive in another country.
Internal migration: Migration within a country.
Population Census:
The simultaneous recording of demographic data by government, at a particular time, pertaining to all
persons who live in a particular territory. It usually takes place after every 10 years.
Vital Statistics: Registration of a person's birth, changes in civil status throughout his/her lifetime, and
his/her death.
SIGNIFICANCE OF POPULATIONS STUDY
There are three main questions to look into the significance of population study:
1.
How many people? It refers to the size of the population in a territory. While looking at the
size, one also looks at the changes that are taking place in the size. How are these changes
being effected by the trends in birth rate, death rate, and in migration?
2.
What kind of people? It refers to the composition of the population. The composition
includes the characteristics of the population with respect to the age structure, sex differences,
literacy rate and levels of literacy, religious distribution, languages people speak, occupational
structure, housing structure, etc. In addition to the absolute figures showing the characteristics
one also looks at the changes that might be taking place in the composition of the population
as well as its future implications.
3.
How are people distributed in the area? Distribution of population refers to the dispersion
of people in a territory like the rural-urban distribution, size of cities, densities of population.
Analysis of the distribution takes into account the prospective changes as well as its future
effects.
People belonging to different walks of life are interested in the existing as well as the foreseeable trends in
the size, composition and distribution of population.
For example a planner is looking at the size of the population because he has to tie it with other social and
economic resources of the country. He has to look into the correlations between the size of population and
the economic development of the country. How are the changes in population size influencing the
economic development and vice a versa? The composition of the population may be reflective of quality of
the human resource, which can be utilized for the development of the economy. The changes in the
composition may also suggest the kind of investments needed in the various components of the population.
The distribution of population is of specific interest to the planner when he has to look into the varying
needs of people at different places.
From the political perspective one has to look into the size of population while determining the boundaries
of constituent areas as well as the number of members of the National Assembly, the Senate, and Provincial
Assemblies. The information about the composition as well as the distribution of population helps in the
determining the number of voters, the type of voters, and the location of voters.
A businessman shall be interested in the population because he uses the manpower in the production of
goods and services and ultimately he shall be looking for the consumers of his goods and services. At
various stage of his business operations he shall be interested in all the three components of population i.e.,
size, composition, and distribution. He produces goods and services keeping in view the characteristics of
the ultimate consumers.
The study of population is of utmost significance to an educationist because he has to look into the
educational needs of the population and arrange the facilities accordingly. What is the size of population, of
which how many are of school going age, what is the their gender, what is the occupational background of
their parents, where are they located - in rural/urban areas, are some of the pertinent questions about which
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Introduction to Sociology ­ SOC101
VU
he should have enough information prior to chalking out an action program. The study of population helps
in providing the relevant information.
These examples suggest that in whatever field we work, the demographic information is of utmost value for
planning, implementation, and success of any plan. The causes and consequences of changes in the size,
composition, and distribution of population have a bearing on the socio economic development of the
country.
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