Population pyramids: Powerful predictors of the future – Kim Preshoff

Translator: Jessica Ruby
Reviewer: Caroline Cristal Russia, with the largest territory in the world, has roughly the same total population as Nigeria, a country 1/16 its size. But this similarity won’t last long. One of the populations is rapidly growing, while the other is slowly declining. What can this tell us about the two countries? Population statistics are some of the most important data social scientists and policy experts have to work with. But understanding a country’s situation and making accurate predictions requires knowing not just the total size of the population but its internal characteristics, such as age and gender distribution. So, how can we keep track of all that data in a way that makes it easy to comprehend? Complex data is more easily interpreted through visualization, and one of the ways that demographers represent the internal distribution of a population is the population pyramid. Here, the data is divided by gender with females on one side and males on the other. The population numbers are shown for each five-year age interval, starting from 0-4 and continuing up to 100 and up. These intervals are grouped together into pre-reproductive (0-14), reproductive (15-44), and post-reproductive years (45 and up). Such a population pyramid can be a powerful predictor of future population trends. For example, Rwanda’s population pyramid shows it to be a fast-growing country, with most of the population being in the youngest age groups at the bottom of the pyramid. The number will grow rapidly in the coming years. As today’s children reach their reproductive years and have children of their own, the total population is almost certain to double within the next few decades. For our second example, let’s look at Canada, where most of the population is clustered around the middle of the graph. Because there are less people in the pre-reproductive age groups than there are in the reproductive ones, the population will grow more slowly, as the number of people reaching their reproductive years decreases. Finally, let’s look at Japan. Because the majority of its population is in its post-reproductive years and the number of people is smaller at each younger interval, this means that at current rates of reproduction the population will begin to decline as fewer and fewer people reach reproductive age. Comparing these three population pyramids side by side shows us three different stages in a demographic transition, as a country moves from a pre-industrial society to one with an industrial or post-industrial economy. Countries that have only recently begun the process of industrialization typically see an increase in life expectancy and a fall in child mortality rates as a result of improvements in medicine, sanitation, and food supply. While birth rates remain constant, leading to a population boom. Developing countries that are farther along in the industrialization process begin to see a fall in birth rates, due to factors such as increased education and opportunities for women outside of child-rearing and a move from rural to urban living that makes having large families less economically advantageous. Finally, countries in advanced stages of industrialization reach a point where both birth and death rates are low, and the population remains stable or even begins to decline. Now, let’s take a look at the projected population pyramids for the same three countries in 2050. What do these tell us about the expected changes in each country’s population, and what kinds of factors can alter the shape of these future pyramids? A population pyramid can be useful not only as a predictor of a country’s future but as a record of its past. Russia’s population pyramid still bears the scars of World War II, which explains both the fewer numbers of elderly men compared to elderly women and the relatively sudden population increase as soldiers returned from the war and normal life resumed. China’s population pyramid reflects the establishment of the one child policy 35 years before, which prevented a population boom such as that of Rwanda but also led to sex-selective abortions, resulting in more male children than female children. Finally, the pyramid for the United States shows the baby boom that followed World War II. As you can see, population pyramids tell us far more about a country than just a set of numbers, by showing both where it’s been and where it’s headed within a single image. And in today’s increasingly interconnected world, facing issues such as food shortages, ecological threats, and economic disparities, it is increasingly important for both scientists and policy makers to have a rich and complex understanding of populations and the factors affecting them.

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100 Responses

  1. Rose White says:

    The guy is totally wrong! When Jesus returns shortly and slaughters about 7 Billion Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Taosists, New Agers, atheists, agnostics, Mormons, JWs, and all other pagans the popualtio will be down to half a billion or so – but the everyone willstart making babies with all the eggs in their ovearies and by 3020 the polualtion will be as high as 50 billion – and all will be wellfed and healthy!

  2. ashley boyd says:

    Love ❤️ What do you guys think of this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-H3taLwAYbI

  3. Meme Grand Lord says:

    poor country mainly have high growth rate, while advanced country mainly have low growth rate. more advance a country lower the growth rate will be and more stable the need of natural resource for that country such as food.

    to solve the problem of over population, we need to make more advance country and help the poor country out of their mud pool. it's a big lie to avoid over population if there's still poor country exist

  4. Alex James vdh says:

    Thank you really helped me on. Geography

  5. Laurenz Peacock says:

    There are no food shortages, or well, at least there needn't to be – it's just inequal distribitution.

  6. suhail nazir says:


  7. Michael DeppeCarter says:

    There's some Pro industrialization assumptions that inform this video. The video supports the dominant population Orthodoxy, that drops in reproductive rates is a good thing and a conscious choice among the population. It does not acknowledge the sharp drop in fertility rates among industrialized societies. It does not acknowledge economic pressures that coerce women into wage labor. It does not acknowledge that in pre-industrial societies children are an economic asset whereas in an industrialized and post industrial society children are an economic liability. And finally if fails to explain why so many people in an industrialized Society and post industrialized Society failed to reproduce at all. Foundational to evolution the foundational theory of life science, is the drive to pass on your own genes. Yet so many people seemingly "choose" not to reproduce while living in what we are told is the highest standard of living in history. Something doesn't add up.

  8. veleli maka says:


  9. Mr Bricetherice says:

    here for school 🙁

  10. Battle Angel Richard says:

    What do you think about sortable population pyramid like this one?

  11. Arun Sharma says:

    Very useful for including in a course on population.

  12. I AM A SWIFTIE says:

    I AM THE 1 000 124TH VIEWER😂

  13. Hayleigh and Kayleigh Sisters says:

    There’s way mor then seamen billion people living on earth people need to stop assuming the earth

  14. Buttin Muffin says:


  15. Wadhwa Education says:

    This is great help for my Geography Test which is round the corner.

  16. Henry Johnston says:

    Woah so weird. Legit doing these in school right now and this shows up

  17. Ciaran Condron says:

    At 2:56 you can see that they flipped the colours so that the male side is pink and the female side is blue

  18. ANsOn II says:

    People are not interested in anything. No ones shares interests. No one is passionate. I am thinking this is the 1in 5 mental illness stat. I cannot explain it. Women dont even seem to be interested in me.

  19. Kazer Kube says:

    piramids look like houses

  20. MGang TV says:

    dope content check out John X Smith new single too damn long

  21. Babu S B says:


  22. Huaiyuan Qu says:

    Nice data storytelling of population structure! I'm starting to wonder whether migration process could be visualised and what sort of dataframe structure would that be.

  23. Upside Nico The Bear says:

    I'm 05-09

  24. phaoyu says:

    Omg you can see the genocide of Rwanda

  25. Jay Kienlen says:

    Certainly one useful graphic but by itself very limited if not misleading. The important graph is the graph showing future projected populations so for instance USA projected by 2050 to have approx 450 million or increase of 120 million over today in 30 years or so!!!,And where does America find the jobs and social services. Likewise Rwanda will explode with a social breakdown leading to more immigration (illegal) putting pressures on Europe already pressured. To not at least givepassing nod to this makes this a very uninformative TED lesson. POOR!!!!!

  26. Jordi Iranzo Martínez says:

    I hated the soundtrack!

  27. sneak a peek says:

    Who would click thumbs down? ..someone who wants .. 50,000,000,000 Billion people running around.

  28. commandoslayer says:

    People who have children should be prepared to take care of them.

  29. Vegas Mgtow says:

    What about the migrant crisis?

  30. Bazzralic says:

    But what about factors like Gynocentric-Hypergamy, where women forcibly discriminate men in a manner than even the Nazis could not evolve to , which downtrends reproduction rates?

  31. GregoryTheGr8ster says:

    This also demonstrates why we need social security, and other senior entitlement programs. The young must be forced to serve the old. Without seniors being granted an entitlement to the incomes of the young, only pure injustice and despair for all will result.

  32. chris ., says:

    In developed countries first feminism then MGTOW curb and flatten population growth

  33. Giorgio Cooper says:

    So far so good …. the population pyramids are relatively easy to understand ….. however ….. lets look at the total and utter screw ups of those same demographics experts when talking about their recommendations on how “to beat” the “disaster” (as they see it) of the population decline of all European countries …… the import of millions of totally incompatible, un-assimilatable, un-employable, violent, ungrateful individuals from Africa and the middle east …….. talking about a small disaster being replaced by a gigantic unsolvable disaster ……. and the dumber than a broom handle politicians who fell for their utterly none sensical recommendations …….

  34. Honorable Pawn says:

    Captain obvious.

  35. Alex Scher says:

    When will world population double to 14000000 peple

  36. Putu Eka Wirawan says:

    My age is on 05-09 Guess what age am i

  37. NoobMaster69 says:

    Im confused with Population pyramid.

    I’m 100% Sure My Geography Mark drop becuz Of it.

  38. Blue Acidball says:

    When you live in one of the most populated countries in the world
    Me: GG Nigeria, GG.

  39. Dr Grad says:

    Turkish subtitle please..

  40. Illmatic88 says:

    Almost embarrasing that these so called experts can't even take high death rates for young people in africa into consideration. They have a huge number of kids because half of them will die young.

  41. Mike Hunt says:

    I can’t. I literally can’t even! I refuse to watch this video in its entirety. You guys said there’s two genders. Male and female. That’s it. Have you guys been living in a cave? There are AT LEAST 72 genders! I’m beyond offended. Definitely not subscribing. Telling all my non-binary, gender non-conforming friends to report this video! I’m done with the internet for the day. Thank god for my dry closet. Idk where I’d be without it.

  42. smart cat says:

    What about the Philippine pyramid

  43. Fire Heart says:

    Where is India

  44. koondoog says:

    Increase in population as soldiers returned from the war…. and normal life resumed

  45. Tachyon Annihilator says:

    Who else is here because they were given the video link by a Geography teacher?

  46. Jesse Lorax says:

    4:25 Now:2018

  47. KEVIN FOTSO says:


  48. Akshay Bhasin says:

    Is it just me, or does Canada's population pyramid kinda look like a maple leaf?

  49. MysTic_Mauta - says:


  50. Tâm Nguyễn says:

    We learn this as the first Geography lesson of the 7th grade in VietNam

  51. Khang Lê says:

    It's 2018 now we need a new population pyramid with 76 columns.

  52. Franiyl says:

    i thought it was the populations of the people living in pyramids

  53. StigSlashBro says:

    ted ed is lowkey the best channel on youtube

  54. afaaaww aaa says:

    Look at Canada and Europe. Many immigrants are in there.We should avoid immigration.

  55. Alice Wong says:

    i’m worried about overpopulation

  56. Sara says:

    i love the music!

  57. David Dry says:


  58. Dale Kirkendall says:

    You talk about what the wealthy elite and bankers want but not about what the actual people who live in the countries want . Do you even care???
    You do not talk about the things you could do to make the lives better for the people, You can create a baby boom in any country by giving tax breaks for mothers and babies , and make sure you have enough working young for each race to support the ageing population, there is no need to mix the races.

  59. Connetification says:

    Wow perfect!!! Easy to understand.

  60. Vassago says:

    Blacks will take over ?

  61. Karl Lakandula says:

    What is the title of the background music?

  62. truman show says:

    We are facing problems with civilizational sustainability, not only of material resources, economic & social activities,

    but also human resources, like health ( including mental & social ) degradation over time and generation.

    I hope new techs centered on AI and policies to utilize them will solve the problems in a humane way 💖.

    / https://ameblo.jp/lovelucifer/entry-12380764530.html

  63. The Guy Called Enzo says:

    Pls sub to me! Great video!

  64. Adam Malsagov says:

    I wish every country would be like Japan, Russia, Italy, Germany, and other countries with declining population.

  65. Who Knows says:

    Where all my AP human geography peeps at

  66. Thales pro999 says:

    The most likes I’ve got was 221 try to get this more plz!! !!!!!,

    Edit: no likes after a week(my other comment had 37 in this time)
    Edit 2: still no likes after 2 weeks come one guys

  67. HERMIT says:

    Please tell the population position of india. I think it's position is similar like China.

  68. Aaliyah Varona says:

    Omg, please be my human geography teacher.

  69. Kav says:

    Watching this vid in 2100

    What’s a Russian???

  70. 巨人の肩 says:

    anthropocentric a f

  71. Ayesha Aa says:

    Never knew a geo lesson could be this aesthetic

  72. Jonathan says:

    The industrial revolution and its consequences have been a major catastrophe for the human race

  73. David J Gill says:

    Too many people in the world's most backward, impoverished unstable countries. Nothing good can come of this.

  74. Edron Stephen says:

    not for me you sound too advanced for me haha

  75. Alok says:

    Thank u very much

  76. Anna Forbes says:

    Very helpful video for my upcoming geography exam …. many thanks :))

  77. 1234 123 says:

    The music is killing me

  78. Ujaan Roy says:

    Thank You! This was very useful for my geography project!

  79. TankiGaming with RichardRocks2016 says:

    its amazing how much we can work out and predict from just a graph

  80. Adveat Sankhe says:

    TOOOOO Helpful………………..
    THANKS BRo..

  81. Jack Schiro says:

    The funny thing is that the information on Japan is completely inaccurate! The birth rates have been steadily rising since 2005 and will raise to replacement level due to better childcare and womeneconomics. At least it’s a good thing that got misrepresented.

  82. Sae Elliot Quinberyn says:

    Productive begins at 15, mindblowing.

  83. Aidid Rashed Efat says:

    Population is a problematic factor, it should always be checked and balanced.

  84. killerr says:

    Alto video master

  85. Manu Reyes says:


  86. Alfonso Alvares says:

    Hola este vídeo me ayudo mucho

  87. Đỉnh cao óc chó -Óc chó có thâm niên says:

    Reproductive age 15- 19 😂😂.FBI see u

  88. MomoJojo TheCoolGuy says:

    wow, I guess you could say Rwanda more like RwanDEAD! LOL

  89. Predicting the future says:

    I felt that one of the commentators on the video was going through an emotional crisis, but love and the knight of dreams chased her when she didn't feel. There are many secrets hidden by time

  90. Neamhdhlisteanach says:

    I don't know why, but i love population pyramids. When I'm bored I play around with pyramids on a website https://www.ined.fr/en/everything_about_population/population-games/tomorrow-population/ idk but i just find it so cool

  91. Jesse Wolters says:

    can some one give me a link to the music

  92. ToonNinja says:

    im unsubbing

  93. Anson says:

    What about the world?

  94. Merlin Nelson says:

    Canada isn't very good at building pyramids

  95. betsy dao says:


  96. shivam Sharma says:

    Bhej de India

  97. めけ本たい蔵 says:


  98. betsy dao says:

    WHO HERE IS TAKING APHG? (AP Human Geography) I am!

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