Patterns of population growth

Rates of population growth vary across the world. Although the world's total population is rising rapidly, not all countries are experiencing this growth. In the UK, for example, population growth is slowing, while in Germany the population has started to decline. MEDCs have low population growth rates, with low death rates and low birth rates.

Population will decline if death rate is greater than birth rate.

Population will increase if death rate is less than birth rate.

LEDCs have high population growth rates. Both birth rates and death rates in LEDCs tend to be high. However, improving healthcare leads to death rates falling - while birth rates remain high.

The table shows data in selected LEDC and MEDC countries. The figures are per 1,000 of the population per year.

CountryBirth rateDeath rateNatural increasePopulation growth rate (%)
UK111010.1
Canada11740.4
Bulgaria914-5-0.5
CountryBirth rateDeath rateNatural increasePopulation growth rate (%)
South Africa2515101
Botswana312290.9
Zimbabwe292090.9

In Bulgaria, the birth rate is 9/1,000 and death rate is 14/1,000. As birth rate is less than the death rate, Bulgaria has a declining population.

In South Africa, the birth rate is 25/1,000 and death rate is 15/1,000. South Africa has an increasing population with a population growth rate of 1%.