Population Structure

The structure of the population is evaluated by its age distribution, socioeconomic status and its position in the HDI (Human Development Index).

Regarding country assessment criteria, from 1950 until the late 1980s, the common classification was that which framed countries as follows:

  • 1st world: developed capitalist countries;
  • 2nd world: socialist countries of planned economy;
  • 3rd world: underdeveloped countries.

Events in international geopolitics, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, end of Cold War, resurgence of Europe as economic potency and the end of soviet socialist experience, mark a new provision of the world order, which mentions the world multipolar and the globalization gives economy.

From then on, a new understanding became necessary to classify countries. The UN started to use the HDI (Human Development Index), which aims to evaluate the quality of life through some criteria:

  • Life expectancy;
  • Per capita income;
  • Degree of instruction.

The HDI evaluates and applies a score ranging from 0 to 1. The closer to 1, the better the HDI of a country or region. We will see more information about the HDI in the next topics.

HDI in the world

Age structure

The age structure of a population is usually divided into three ranges:

  • Young people, who are from birth to 19 years old;
  • Adults, from 20 years to 59 years;
  • Seniors, which goes from 60 years onwards.

The age structure of a population is not only divided into three groups (young, adult, elderly), one can also divide the population through a chart called the age pyramid. This graph not only tells you about age, but also about the proportion of the sexes at each age.

Template illustration of age pyramid

Underdeveloped countries

The pyramid has a broad base due to the high birth density. Narrowing is rapid due to mortality. The height of the pyramid and the width of the upper end indicate that few people reach old age (which is explained by the low standard of living).

The outline also shows us that there is a predominance of young people. Demographic explosion is a common phenomenon in countries whose age structures can be represented by the figure in this model. Examples: Indonesia, Ethiopia, etc.

Pyramid example for underdeveloped countries

Aged population countries

The much narrower base, compared to other figures, indicates a long or negative growth long ago (countries of ancient industrial evolution). The opposite end to the base indicates the very high percentage of the elderly (indicative of excellent living standards). Examples: European, Japanese, etc.

Pyramid Example for Aged Population Countries

Aging countries

One can present the age structure of the countries that performed industrialization after the Europeans. The predominant adults, therefore, the active ones. In some countries, although the rising standard of living has not been significant for the majority of the population, the economic middle class has opted for fewer children to try to maintain quality of life.

Pyramid Example for Aging Countries

Brazil's age pyramid has its broad base and narrows to the top. This means that the number of elderly is relatively small. Brazil's chart shows that, despite all the growth, we are still a young country, because in the case of more developed countries, the base of the pyramid is usually smaller and the top wider.

Brazil's age pyramid - 2010 IBGE census data

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