Demographic Transition Model

The Demographic Transition Model (DMT) shows how birth and death rates change as country goes through different stages of development.

The model has five stages.

Stage 1

At stage 1 the birth and death rates are both high.

So the population remains low and stable.

Places in the Amazon, Brazil and rural communities of Bangladesh would be at this stage.

High death rates would be attributed to poor water supply, poor health care, a reliance upon subsistence farming, disease and pests and an unreliable economy.

High birth rates would be attributed to a lack of knowledge of family planning, the need to have large families to help with work, and the women’s traditional role as a mother in these societies.

Stage 2

At this stage the death rate falls but the birth rate remains high.

Natural increase is greater so the population begins to grow rapidly.

An example of a country at this stage would be Sri Lanka or Peru.

The death rates often fall due to medical breakthroughs and new hospital services opening.

Improvements may have also been made to accommodation or food and water supply.

Birth rates remain high for religious or cultural purposes and people are still not educated to using contraception.

Stage 3

Birth rates now fall and death rates continue to fall.

Natural increase remains high and population growth is rapid.

An example of a country at this stage would be Chile or China.

The birth rates fall as there is better access to family planning and people have begun to appreciate the fact that families are expensive and that women are able to work.

Death rates continue to fall as medical care, water supply and accommodation are improved.

Stage 4

Birth rates and death rates level out.

The population now stabilises as the natural increase is low.

An example of a country at this stage is Australia.

Birth rates are low as the society is advanced and therefore, women choose for careers and smaller families to ensure that they have a better quality of life.

Death rates remain low.

Stage 5?

The model was designed to only incorporate four stages, however, in recent years there has been call for a fifth stage to be added to the model.

At this stage the birth rate falls below the death rate and this result in a negative population increase.

An example of a country at this stage is Italy.

Italian women are deciding that a career is more important than a family and many decide to not have children at all by being sterilised.

Death rates remain low and the population begins to rapidly age.


However, as with all theoretical models, the DTM does have its limitations and the model has failed to predict several occurrences.

Firstly, the model failed to predict the falling birth rates in many MEDC countries.

Secondly, the model assumes that all countries will pass through the same four stages, however, countries in Africa, for example, will never become industrialised.

And finally, countries such as Australia, USA and Canada, never went through the first stages as their populations grew due to emigration.

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