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Global Population

Global Population

Author: Paul Hannan

Recognize the effect of population growth on demographic divide, urbanization, and the evolution of cities.

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Source: Intro Music by Mark Hannan; Public Domain Images from; Public Domain

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[MUSIC PLAYING] Welcome to this episode of Sociology Studies of Society. Today's lesson is on global population. As always, don't be afraid to pause, stop, rewind or even fast forward, to make sure get the most out of this tutorial.

So today is a relatively brief tutorial looking at some aspects of global population. Now, in general when we look at populations, populations can be doing one of three things. They can be going up, they can be staying steady or they can be going down. So that line right in the middle of your screen there is when population is steady. Well, that actually is a term that is associated with that. And that is called zero population growth. That's a steady and consistent population.

Now when we look at the world, there is this demographic divide. And there's a large difference between countries, birth rates, and death rates. And that translates to a lot of different things beyond just that. So on the screen, you saw all these different words appear. And these different words are some of the other things that you're seeing with this demographic divide.

So you have nations with a really high birth rate, that their populations are increasing by a lot. These nations are generally not well off. And they're generally used in the global economy for their cheap labor and for their natural resources.

On the other hand, on the other side of this demographic divide are the countries with declining populations. In general, these are really wealthy nations. And these nations are own major aspects of the global system. And the people that work in these nations are much more likely to be used for their human capital, versus being used just as cheap labor or taking the natural resources out of one of these nations.

Now different nations are progressing through these different systems. But China, I think, is a really interesting one to look at. China is one that had been having a really high population growth. And what they're doing besides some things they're doing in their economy, is they actually have the one child law. So they're trying to drastically curve the number of children being born, so that their population is not growing. And the reasoning being, that they're trying to make sure that they are becoming one of those rich nations that has declining population, versus one of those nations that is poor and being used mainly for its cheap labor and natural resources.

Now I'm going to give you a quick overview of the evolution of cities because it ties in with this idea of populations growing. If you'd like to find out more about this, watch the tutorial on US cities. That's going to give you a little more detail about the evolution of cities.

Cities have evolved. And what they really started as is just a place for trade. Initially, we had hunter-gatherer society, and we had individuals who they were nomadic, so they were moving all around. And there wasn't really a lot of trade. So as we started to have the agricultural revolution, we started to actually have some trade happening. So cities really started out of just a need to have a place for people to meet to do trades.

We're becoming a much less nomadic society as a globe, too, with the evolution of farming. So people are choosing to settle, and then they have to find places to meet to trade. And that's really where cities started.

Now the first real cities were city-states. Now city-states are when a city acts separately from everything else it acts as its own nation, actually. There are a couple examples in the modern world of it. The Vatican is one. Singapore is one. But, historically, there weren't really nations initially. Instead, nations were city-states. So it was one city that acted just like we think of as a country acting now.

Then cities continued to grow, and we had this movement called urbanization. And this is where more and more people start living in cities. A lot of this is driven by the Industrial Revolution. As nations become industrialized, more and more people move away from the farms and living in rural areas and move to cities.

So if we tie this back in looking at global populations, many nations that have really high population growth, they're still in the process of industrializing and modernizing. So people are still in the process of moving to the cities.

In a nation like the United States of America, urbanization is pretty much done. The majority people live in cities, and the majority of people are going to stay living in cities. There might be some more people slowly moving into cities. But in general, that large bump has finished.

If you look at a nation like China, they're in the process of really urbanizing. So a large part of the population still works in farms. But, at the same time, a large group of people are moving to the cities daily. And that's, in general, how cities have evolved, and really how that ties into global populations.

So today's takeaway message-- we looked at population growth and the idea that zero population growth is when there's no population growth. There is a steady population. It's staying consistent. We also looked at the demographic divide, and that's the large difference between nations that have a high birthrate and population growth versus nations that have zero or no population growth.

And then, we also learned about urbanization. And, again, that's just the process of people moving towards cities, so more and more people are living in the urban environment.

Well, that's it for the season. Good work. And, hopefully, you'll be seeing me on your screen again soon. Peace.

Terms to Know
Demographic Divide

The large difference between countries' birth and death rates.

Evolution of Cities

The process by which human cities have evolved throughout our history.


The process of urban population growth, of more and more people living in cities.

Zero Population Growth

Occurs when the rate of population growth is not too big or too small, but maintains the population at a consistent level.