Task 1: Create a Briefing on “Your” Country’s Demographics –
Data source: demographic indicators for “your” country and the world average values from the Population Reference Bureau’s 2015 World Population Data Sheet. (A link to it is on D2L.)
How do I create a briefing on my country’s demographics?
1) Find the values of key demographic indicators for “your” country (as assigned by your TA—you may NOT use any other country) and the regional and world average values for those indicators. Display them in a clearly labeled and well-organized data table at an appropriate point in the text of your paper. (You have already completed a draft of this table as part of homework for Week 3 using information in the Population Reference Bureau’s 2015 World Population Data Sheet. Refer to that exercise for details and reminders.)
2) Select a few of those indicators to discuss at length in the text. You should choose indicators whose values tell you something important, unusual or noteworthy about your country. By the end of your paper, your reader should understand what each of the indicators you have discussed measures, what the value of that indicator tells us about life in your country, how you know it (that is, what evidence supports your claim about what the indicator tells us?) and why it is important to understand that piece of information. Explain the significance of the number for people living in your country.
Hint: Remember, the value of an indicator can only be “high” or “low” with respect to something else, whether it is the region and neighboring countries, or with respect to its relationships to other key indicators. To what extent do expected relationships hold? For instance, would you expect fertility to be high or low if urbanization and literacy rates are high? Is that true for your country? Do not forget to explain your standard of comparison to your readers whenever you use a relative term.
3) To put your country’s demographic situation into context, briefly compare the values of a few key indicators to the world’s average values. In this comparison note a few important similarities and/or differences between your country and the world on average, and explain how we should interpret those similarities and/or differences. What does it tell us about your country if a certain indicator is above, below, or similar to the world average? Explain your evidence for claiming that the comparison means one thing but not another. This comparison may be its own section or part of the section mentioned above.
Task 2: Prepare an Analysis of Trends in Demographic Change Over Time –
Data source: population pyramid graphs from three different points in time from the U.S. Census Bureau’s International Data Base. You will bring these pyramids to discussion in Week 4 and analyze them in group discussions.
1) Generate three population pyramids that display the demographic data for your country over time and include these graphics with labels at an appropriate point in the text of your paper. Use the pyramid from 2015 and two others – one from at least 20 years in the past (1994 or earlier) and another from at least 20 years in the future (2034 or later).
2) Using the data from the population pyramids, discuss how the demographics of your country have changed over time and are predicted to change in the future. Explain your observations by referring to the demographic transition model. By the end of your paper, your reader should understand how the demographic transition model applies to your country’s changing population. Your reader should also know how you were able to identify the past and future demographic changes you point out (that is, what evidence did you base your claim on?), how those demographic changes relate to your country’s economic situation, and why knowing about those demographic changes could be important for policymakers.
Hint: As you write, consider the limitations of population pyramids. What can’t a population pyramid tell us? To reach a conclusion about a population based on something that you notice in the population pyramid, would you need to rule out any other possibilities? What other information would you need before you could be sure about your claim?
Task 3: Formulate an Assessment of Demographic Policy Options –
Data source: No new data necessary (material already discussed in class), but see Hint below.
In at least one of the sections above, explain the implications of the demographic data you discussed by referring to one or more demographic policy measures that we discussed in class. Consider possible pro- and anti-natal strategies and whether more or less immigration might be desirable. A good policy discussion will recommend a demographic policy for your country to follow and – drawing proof from the demographic data (indicators, pyramids, or both) that you have just interpreted – convince your reader that the policy would be beneficial and context-appropriate.
Hint: It will be helpful in writing about demographic policy to have some general background information about your country; consider looking to resources such as the CIA’s World Factbook (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-worldfactbook/) and articles from organizations like The New York Times, NPR, or The Economist. Be careful to cite any and all sources consulted!