Demographics Lesson 2 Demographic Terms and Population Control Policies
Demographics Lesson 2 Demographic Terms and Population Control Policies

In this lesson, students examine key demographic terms and their definitions. They discuss population control policies, focusing on how factors such as poverty, culture, politics and gender influence population dynamics.

Relevant Learning Objectives

2.    Explain the temporal and spatial trends in world population patterns


Possible Classroom Activities

  • Demographics Lesson 2 Hook (0) Ask the students: What factors determine a country’s population size? Are any of these factors easily changed, why or why not?
  • Demographics Lesson 2 Powerpoint (0) Discussion questions and answers provided in the notes section.
  • Demographics Lesson 2 Population Pyramid Activity (0) Option A: Instructor brings copies of pyramids to class, and distributes to students Option B: Students use computers in class to access the Population Reference Bureau website and obtain population pyramids for comparison.
  • Demographics Lesson 2 Gender Discussion (0) Engage students in a discussion of the role of the following four factors in influencing population dynamics across countries: gender, poverty, politics, and culture.
  • Demographics Lesson 2 One-China Role-Play (0) Start the activity by showing the BBC video on China’s One Child policy. Then divide the class into multiple roles to debate the policy: 1) government official, 2) businessmen, 3) women’s activist, and 4) farmer. Students should sit in groups of four and, as their character, discuss the continuation of the One-China Policy.
  • Demographics Lesson 2 Case Studies on Culture Systems (0) How do culture systems play a role in constructing demographic processes such as family size, age of marriage and childbearing, the care of the elderly, etc. Students examine one of the following case-studies and write an essay or have a group discussion with others in the class who chose (or were assigned) the same ...
  • Demographics Lesson 2 Demography Project (0) This project is a group assessment project. Groups can put their answers in a Wikispace site developed for the class. Alternatively, this assignment could be handed in in regular print format.
  • Demographics Lesson 2 Conclusion and Reflection (0) Did anyone change their minds about the One Child Policy or about country choices pertaining to demographics? Why or why not? Was it difficult playing a role if you did not personally agree with it? What biases do you bring to the table, how is your opinion on this subject-matter formed?


  • Brittan, Victoria and Elliott, Larry. (2000, February 28). Educating Girls is Life-Saving for the World. The Guardian, [shows clear evidence that the way to raise productivity, reduce child mortality, and reduce fertility rates is to educate girls.]
  • Carlo, Gustavo and Koller, Silvia and Raffaelli, Marcela and De Guzman, Maria R. (2007). Culture-Related Strengths Among Latin American Families: A Case Study of Brazil. In Marriage & Family Review, Vol. 41 Issue 3/4, 335- 360.
  • Demographics Lesson 2 Powerpoint.ppt.
  • Greenhalgh, Susan. (2002, September 23). Women’s Rights and Birth Planning in China: New Spaces of Political Action, New Opportunities for American Engagement.” Testimony. Retrieved from:
  • Mjelde-Mossey, Lee Ann. (2007). Cultural and Demographic Changes and Their Effects Upon the Traditional Grandparent Role for Chinese Elders. In Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Vol. 16(3).
    [Excellent case study on the role of culture in influencing demographics]
  • Maasai women’s quest for an education. (2011, March 8). Retrieved from:
  • Propaganda BBC News Report—Should we have a one child policy?. (2008, January 25).  Retrieved from:  (2 min)
  • McFalls, Joseph A. (2007). Population: A Lively Introduction (5th Ed). Population Reference Bureau.
  • Rubenstein, J.M. (2009). Chapter 2 Population. In Human Geography.  Pearson Prentice Hall. [Background reading for professor]
  • Unnithan-Kumar, Maya. (2010 February). Female selective abortion – beyond ‘culture’: family making and gender inequality in a globalising India. In Culture, Health & Sexuality, Vol. 12, No. 2, Vol. 12, No. 2, 153-166. of the women involved, doctors, female activists, etc]

Optional Resources


NextDemographics Lesson 3 Theories of Population Change