1.2.1 Population change and Iceland


  • Geographic inquiry and concept(s)
    • Processes of population change and their effect on people and places
  • Geographic knowledge and understanding
    • Population change and demographic transition over time, including natural increase, fertility rate, life expectancy, population structure and dependency ratios
  • Case study or detailed examples
    • Neither required by the syllabus

Base knowledge and understanding

Video clip


Demographic transition in 5 countries, 1820-2010 [Source]

Words to be defined

  • natural increase
  • fertility rate
  • life expectancy
  • dependency ratio
  • replacement levels



The Demographic Transition Model


Population structure



Screenshot or download and add to a single document population pyramids for the following countries:

  • Iceland
  • China
  • India
  • Japan
  • Niger
  • UK
  • USA
  • UAE
  • Free choice
  • Free choice

Is it possible to group/classify the population pyramids? What classifications could you apply to the ten population pyramids you collected? Are there any other classifications that you could apply?


Demographic transition over time - Iceland


Iceland Review - In Focus: Dropping Fertility [2 April 2019]


iceland monitor - Fertility in Iceland too low to maintain population [20 May 2016]



How is Iceland's population changing? Examine Iceland's population growth, birth rate, death rate. Discuss the possibilities for Iceland's population focusing on the next 10-20 years.


Demographic transition over time - beyond Iceland


Challenge task

  1. Go to DataBank - World Development Indicators
  2. Database: 1 selected [World Development Indicators]
  3. Country: 6 selected [China, India, Japan, Niger, UK, USA]
  4. Series: 5 selected [Population,total / Death rate, crude (per 1,000 people) / Birth rate, crude (per 1,000 people) / Fertility rate, total (births per woman) / Age dependency ratio (% of working-age population)]
  5. Time: 6 selected [2015 and 10 year intervals before that]
  6. Download the data > use a spreadsheet application to produce a graph for each series > each graph should have a legend, title, correctly labelled axis.
  7. Each graph needs to be added to a single document - after each graph there should be a table which has three rows (labels, Country 1 and Country 2) and four columns (Country, Obvious, Specific and Odd). You get to choose which 2 countries you focus upon from each graph and it does not need to be the same for each graph. Develop your skills of describing by using the tables to describe the graphs of the two countries you are focusing on - focusing on what is obvious, specific and odd.


  • ‘People in developed countries live longer than those in less developed countries. Improving human development is about helping a population to live longer’. Discuss this statement. [16]
  • Explain one reason why the median age of a population could decrease. [2]
  • Outline what is meant by the rate of natural increase. [2]
  • Outline what is meant by “fertility rate”. [2]
  • Suggest two reasons why fertility rates decline when the status of women is improved. [2+2] [4]
  • Explain one cultural reason and one economic reason why fertility rates are decreasing. [2 + 2] [4]