Population Studies for Competitive Exams (2020)

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Population Studies - Definition, Importance, Objectives and Basic Tools

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  • Population studies focuses on demographic information and trends within human populations.

  • It is also known as ‘Demography”.

  • The term “Demography” means study of both quantitative and qualitative aspects of human population.

  • Quantitative aspects include composition, density, distribution ,growth , movement , size and structure of the population.


  • Qualitative aspects are the sociological factors such as education quality , crime , development, diet and nutrition, race , social class, wealth , well-being.

  • Population characteristics refers to the attributes that individuals in the population possess biologically or sociologically.

  • Some of the biological characteristics include; age, sex, race etc. these attributes are not changeable.

  • Sociologically assigned attributes are: changeable and includes: occupation, marital status, education, income etc.

Objective of population studies

  • To analyze the growth and distribution of population.

  • To study the age and sex composition of the population

  • To analyze the changing pattern of population in these world .

  • To understand the scope and importance of population studies with other branches of science & arts.

Importance of population studies

  • It looks at the various facets of human population by collecting and analyzing demographic data.

  • By studying various population factors , demographers can help identify and resolve population issues.

  • It focuses on the following population issues including :

    • Public health

    • Migration

    • Criminology

    • Urban development

    • Environmental concerns

Basic tools used in population studies

  • In population studies , several tools are used to explain the spatial variations in the nature of population of any given area:

    • Count

    • Rate

    • Ratio

    • Proportion

    • Cohort measure

    • Period measure

Basic tools used in population studies

  • Count: The absolute number of a population or any demographic event occurring at a defined area in a specific time.

  • Rate: The frequency of occurrence of any demographic event in a population within a specific period of time (usually a year), divided by the population at risk of the event within the same time.

  • Ratio: The relationship between one population sub group and the total population or another sub group.

  • Proportion: The relationship of a population Sub-group to the total population.

Basic tools used in population studies

  • Cohort measure :: A statistics that measures demographic events occurring to a cohort (that’s a group of people with common demographic experience which have been observed over time).

    • Period measure: This tool measures events occurring to all or a sub group of a population during one period of time.

    • This measure “takes a snapshot” of a population or the sub group of any population at any given time.

Sources of data used in “Population studies “

  • In population studies , data comes in various forms :

  • Quantitative data :

  • Data expressed as numbers , examples:

  • Weight

  • Height

  • Total population

  • Qualitative data

  • which refers to categorized /non-numeric data such as sex (male or female), social status (rich or poor)etc.

  • These data can be got from different sources which include:

  • Population census

  • The registration system

  • Sample Survey

Population census:

  • The United Nations defines census as : “ total process of collecting, compiling, evaluating, analyzing and publishing or otherwise disseminating demographic, economic and social data pertaining, at a specified time, to all persons in a country or in a well delimited part of a country”. (United Nations, 1998)

  • This is done usually within the interval of 10 years.

  • Some information obtained from census records include;

    • Age

    • Sex

    • Marital status

    • Size of the population

    • Religion

    • Education

    • Place of birth

Types of population Census

They are two approaches to carrying out a population census :

  • De jure approach:

    • This is done by counting and obtaining information from individuals at their places of residence during census.

  • De facto approach:

    • Here wherever the individual happens to be at the census period, is where he will be counted and information obtained regardless of his place of residence or abode.

The registration system

  • Migration records:

    • Travelling points like sea ports, airports, border post, serves as a collection site for information regarding movements of individuals in or out of a country.

  • Population registers:

    • It is kept by the population commission as they make entries of individuals bio-data, starting from their birth throughout his life span to his death.

    • These registers contain social, demographic and economic data about the individual

The registration system

  • This is the continuous universal recording of the information about a population in a particular area into designated registers.

  • These registers help in analyzing changes in population, denoting the change direction and the amount of change that transpired.

  • Examples of such registers are;

    • Vita registers

    • Migration records

    • Population registers

  • Vital registration:

    • contains the vital demographic events happening in the life of individuals throughout their life span.

  • Some of the vital demographic events includes birth, marriage, death, dissolution of marriage, etc.

Sample Survey

Sample survey is designated to meet these immediate population information needs.

  • Sample survey is therefore a systematic way of eliciting information from a sub group of an entire population.

  • The results of sample surveys give a degree of accuracy in generalization of the entire population.

  • Sample surveys are also more convenient is deriving social, cultural, economic and demographic situation of any population on the spot at a relatively low cost.

  • Consequently, individual researchers, research institutes, and multinational companies etc mostly makes use of these surveys.

The non-conventional sources

  • When all the above methods are unavailable or inconvenient to be used at any moment, some non-conventional means could be applied to generate population data.

    • These non-conventional sources of population data include :

    • Administrative records of various organizations

    • Records and registers from religious centre like mosques and churches, schools, hospital, and town unions

  • In as much as these records could be very accurate, some of them maybe obsolete as little or no concerted efforts are employed to update them.

World Population Indicators

Population Data 2018
Population Data 2018

Population Data ( 2018 )

World population mid 2018

7.6 million( 7, 713,460,1000

Number of births

20 births per 1000 persons

Number of deaths

8 deaths per 1000 persons

Infant mortality rates

36 %

Total Fertility Rate

2.5 %

Proportion of urban population

54 %

Life expectancy at birth ( years) males

70 years

Life expectancy at birth ( years) females

74 years

Maternal Deaths

46 deaths per 100,000 births

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