Population Distribution Factors: Job Availability, Quality of Life & Ethnicity

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  • 0:01 Sparse vs Dense
  • 1:10 Quality of Life
  • 2:12 Employment
  • 2:39 Ethnicity
  • 3:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

This lesson will discuss population distribution and the factors that affect it. It will specifically highlight quality of life, job availability, and ethnicity, while also defining the terms 'sparse' and 'dense.'

Sparse vs. Dense

Living in very rural Pennsylvania, I take about every chance I get to venture into Philadelphia, Baltimore, or New York. So different from my small town's sweet, yet rather humdrum existence, I love the bustle of these cities. I love the waves of people, how if you're not careful you might just get swept up in them. To me, it's not surprising why so many people live in cities. Speaking geographically, they have plenty of factors that make the environment perfect for dense population distribution to occur. In today's lesson, we'll discuss some of these factors and how they pertain not just to exciting cities, but also to places all over the world.

When speaking of population distribution, the terms 'sparsely' or 'densely populated' are usually used. If an area is sparsely populated, this means that it contains few people relative to its size. In other words, it's not crowded. However, densely populated areas usually are. They contain a large amount of people relative to size.

Quality of Life

One factor that affects population distribution is the quality of life the area offers. Areas that are sparsely populated are usually very difficult places to live. For example, climate definitely affects quality of life. Yes, with the invention of air conditioning, places like Phoenix and Miami are able to draw lots of people. But the same can't be said for the sweltering sands of the Sahara Desert that lack modern conveniences. On the flip side, heating systems have helped places like Boston and Chicago thrive, but the less-modernized regions of the North Pole still have lots of room to roam.

Along with climate, elevation also affects quality of life and therefore affects population distribution. For instance, the mountains of Tibet make it very difficult to farm and therefore very difficult to supply food for one's family. This is one of the factors that makes this region so sparsely populated. Conversely, the lush fields of the Northeastern U.S. offer miles and miles of fertile land and therefore have a higher population density.


Related to quality of life, availability of employment also affects population distribution. For example, industrial cities, like Hong Kong or Philadelphia, offer lots of jobs opportunities. These areas are thus more densely populated. On the flip side, places like the Australian Outback are not really what you'd call hubs of economic opportunity and therefore fall on the sparse side of the population distribution scale.

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