Analysing population pyramids

Key things to know about population pyramids

  • The shape of a population pyramid can tell us a lot about an area's population.
  • It gives us information about birth and death rates as well as life expectancy.
  • A population pyramid tells us how many dependants there are. There are two groups of dependants; young dependants (aged below 15) and elderly dependants (aged over 65).
  • Dependants rely upon the economically active for economic support.
  • Many LEDCs have a high number of young dependants, whilst many MEDCs have a growing number of elderly dependants.

How do pyramids change over time?

  • A population pyramid that is very triangular (eg Mozambique in 2000) shows a population with a high number of young dependants and a low life expectancy.
  • A population pyramid that has fairly straight sides (more like a barrel) shows a population with a falling birth rate and a rising life expectancy.
  • Over time, as a country develops, the shape changes from triangular to barrel-like.
  • Places with an ageing population and a very low birth rate would have a structure that looks like an upside-down pyramid.
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