Population Characteristics of Highly Developed & Developing Countries

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  • 0:06 Highly Developed &…
  • 1:11 Infant Mortality Rate
  • 2:24 Total Fertility Rate
  • 3:35 Replacement-Level Fertility
  • 5:02 Age Structure
  • 6:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Margaret Cunningham

Margaret has taught many Biology and Environmental Science courses and has Master's degrees in Environmental Science and Education.

The population of a country is based on many factors. In this lesson, we will explore several important factors that differ between developed and developing countries.

Highly Developed & Developing Countries

Imagine a big city in the United States and a small village in Ethiopia. What are some differences between these two locations? Some differences might include climate, population size, culture, and diet.

The economies of these two countries are one major characteristic that set them apart. The United States is considered a highly developed country, which is a general category for countries that are highly industrialized and have high per capita income levels. Ethiopia, on the other hand, would be considered a developing country, which is a general category for countries that have limited industrialization and have low per capita income levels.

Although highly developed and developing countries are often compared based on economy, they also vary a great deal in population characteristics. Some of the most commonly analyzed population characteristics include infant mortality rate, total fertility rate, replacement-level fertility, and age structure.

Infant Mortality Rate

Unfortunately, not all children that are born will survive, and the rate of survival can vary a great deal by the type of country. Infant mortality rate is the term used to describe the percentage of infants that die before the age of one year. Although sad, this statistic is very important because it influences the overall population growth rate, replacement-level fertility, and the age structure of the population.

The infant mortality rate varies a great deal between highly developed and developing countries. On average, developing countries have an infant mortality rate that is 18 times higher than the rate of developed countries. When comparing the ten most developed countries with the ten least developed countries, the infant mortality rate is daunting. The most developed countries have an infant mortality rate of less than 1%, while the least developed countries have an average infant mortality rate of around 10%. These differences in infant mortality rate are shocking, and the high rates are due mainly to limited access to medical care, poor sanitation, and increased prevalence of diseases.

Total Fertility Rate

One of the most important population characteristics of a country has to do with births. The total fertility rate is the average number of offspring born to a woman in a population during her reproductive window. Now, you might ask yourself, what is a woman's reproductive window? The reproductive window is the period in a woman's life when she can physically become pregnant, starting with sexual maturity and ending with menopause.

In a world with unlimited resources and no problems, a woman could produce up to 25 offspring during her reproductive window. This would mean that her total fertility rate would be 25 children per lifetime. Although it is physically possible to produce 25 children per lifetime, the total fertility rate is often much lower.

In developing countries, the fertility rate ranges from between three and seven children per woman. On the other hand, the total fertility rate in developed countries is normally between one and three children per woman. In general, these differences in total fertility rates are due to varying levels of access to contraception and cultural practices.

Replacement-Level Fertility

Another important population characteristic that relates to births is replacement-level fertility. Replacement-level fertility is the fertility rate that will result in the replacement of the parents in the population. Again, in an ideal world, the human replacement-level fertility rate would be exactly two. This would mean that each couple would produce two offspring that would replace them in the population. If this occurred, then the human population would stay at a stable rate.

Of course, the world is not ideal and not all offspring that are born will survive to reproductive age and replace their parents. The replacement-level fertility rate is greatly impacted by the infant mortality rate. As we now know, the infant mortality rate is much higher in developing countries. As a result of this, the replacement-level fertility rate is also higher in developing countries than in developed countries.

On average, the replacement-level fertility rate is around 2.1 in developed countries. This value includes two children to replace the two parents and an additional 0.1 for the risk of a child dying before reaching reproductive age. For developing countries, this number is slightly higher, at around 2.6, with an additional 0.6 due to the higher risk of infant mortality

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