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The Demographic Transition -- A Contemporary Look at a Classic Model

by Martha Sharma
Retired Teacher
Hilton Head, South Carolina

Lesson Plan Introduction
With the spread of the Industrial Revolution in the eighteenth century, dramatic changes began to occur in the populations of industrializing countries. But do the changes that occurred in Western Europe and the United States have relevance for modern countries just entering the industrial age? Students should be able to evaluate and apply models to explain changes in global demographic patterns and use their assessments to predict future needs.

  • To understand the classic demographic transition (DT) model
  • To explain assumptions and limitations of the classic DT model
  • To construct graphs of contemporary demographic change
  • To explain contemporary demographic patterns in the context of the classic DT model
Content Standards
AP Human Geography: Unit II -- Population
B. Population growth and decline over time and space
4. Regional variations of demographic transitions

Student Activities
  Activity One: Explaining Population Change
  Activity Two: Global Population Patterns and Demographic Transitions
  Activity Three: Can an Old Model Explain New Trends?

Lesson Resources
Population Reference Bureau: Transitions in World Population, pp. 6 and 7-11
www.prb.org/pdf04/TransitionsinWorldPop.pdf (.pdf/320KB)

Population Reference Bureau: Population -- A Lively Introduction, 4th ed.
www.prb.org/pdf/PopulationLivelyIntro.pdf (.pdf/260KB)

Central concepts: Demographic transition model, birth rate, death rate, natural increase
Case locations: Selected locations

Note: This lesson plan is part of the teaching package "Making Population Real: New Lesson Plans and Classroom Activities," created by and available from the Population Reference Bureau (PRB). This sample lesson plan is being made available to AP Central users via a collaboration agreement between the PRB and the College Board.
  Population Reference Bureau -- for Educators

Related Links
  Demographic Transition: An Historical Sociological Perspective (University of Michigan)
  The Demographic Transition (University of Wisconsin)
  The Demographic Transition: Three Centuries of Fundamental Change (Johns Hopkins University (.pdf/270KB)
  Focus Areas on Population Trends (PRB)
  Population Trends Presentations (PRB)

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