Assignments for non-majors

For your ease in completing each assignment, the background text relevant to the experiment that you will perform is in brown text, instructions for each assignment are indicated by plain text, and questions or activities that you will be asked to provide answers for are indicated by bold text.

The following assignment is designed to help you become familiar with the operation of DemographyLab.

Assignment 1
Getting to Know DemographyLab: Demographic Differences Among Nations

Countries differ with respect to population numbers, age structure, and fertility and mortality rates. These differences are caused by many factors, such as geographic size and location, level of economic development, government policies, and religious practices. The following exercises are designed to help you understand the influence of some of these factors on the size and growth of human populations.

  1. Select the Population Structure view on the input screen of Demography Lab. Using the Country popup menu, examine the estimated 1998 population structure of each nation.

    Can you classify the population structures into two general patterns? Consider what you know about each of these countries. What do you think is the biggest factor distinguishing these two groups of nations?

  2. Select the Fertility Rate view on the input screen of DemographyLab. Using the Country popup menu, examine the estimated 1998 fertility rates of each nation. (Try changing the scale to magnify these differences.)

    Do you see any trends for the fertility rates compared to the population structures? What are they?

  3. Select the Mortality Rate view on the input screen of DemographyLab. Using the Country popup menu, examine the estimated 1998 mortality rates of each nation.
    a. Do you see any general similarities and differences between nations? Provide possible reasons for these similarities and differences. Hint: To help you determine differences in mortality rates, click on the Run button and choose the Vital Rates view. Export the data from this table to your notebook by clicking on the Export Data button. Click OK to export data to your notebook as text.

    b. Do you see any trends for the mortality rates compared to the age structures? What are they? Which age groups show the biggest differences in mortality rate among nations?

    c. Do you see any differences in the mortality rates of males compared with females for any of the countries? What are they? What might account for some of these differences?

  4. Most scientists believe slower population growth is beneficial to the sustainability and quality of human life on Earth. In the mid-1980s, the World Health Organization (WHO) Task Force on Contraceptive Vaccines specifically designated a large sum of research funds for scientists to design novel contraceptive methods that could be used to slow population growth. The WHO identified certain developing nations of Africa, South America, and Asia, including India, as populations that could benefit from new contraceptive approaches (such as contraceptive vaccinations) that could easily be administered on a large scale.

    Select the Fertility Rate view on the input screen of Demography Lab. Examine the fertility rates for Nigeria and India.

    a. Develop a list of differences and similarities that appear for the fertility rates of each country. Why might each country show these differences and similarities?

    b. Can you think of common societal issues shared by India and Nigeria that might account for the similarities?

    c. Provide possible explanations for why it may be difficult to establish contraceptive techniques in these countries that would have a significant impact on population growth.