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Human Demographics

This page authored by Scott Cooper, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, based on an original activity by Ginger Booth, Yale University.
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This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


In this biology simulation students explore factors that change human population growth including age at which women begin to bear children, fertility rate and death rate. Simulations are provided for seven countries including the USA, China, Egypt, Germany, Italy, India and Mexico. There are also accompanying questions that walk students through some interesting scenarios.

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Learning Goals

  • Students should be able to identify the factors that determine population growth and the shape of population pyramids. Specifically these include age of fertility, fertility rate and death rate.

Context for Use

This would be most effective as an out of class assignment, although it could be adapted for a laboratory.

Teaching Materials

Students are given a worksheet that walks them through several activities using a human demographics simulator. You could assign individual questions, or the entire worksheet to students.

Information is provided on seven different countries, and two simulations are shown on the page, one with the original parameters, and the second with the new parameters entered by the students. Thus students can make comparisons between countries, and within a country in response to changes in a parameter. Human Demographics Worksheet (Microsoft Word 143kB Jul25 06)

Teaching Notes and Tips

Students will need a good background in populations, reading population pyramids, and fertility and mortality rates.


There are multiple questions on the worksheet that could be used in formative or summative assessment.

References and Resources

MERLOT description of the Human Demographics website that contains the java simulation used in this activity.