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Demographic transition theory UPSC

Demographic transition theory is based on the observation of population growth in Europe and the American continent where demographic transition happened from an agricultural society to an industrial society. Originally, demographic transition theory had four stages but later the fifth stage was added.

There are five stages in demographic transition theory

The first stage ( agriculture society):

The following characteristics are in the first stage of the demographic transition theory.
  • High birth and high death rate. 
  • Low productivity
  • No technology advancement 
  • Little urbanization 
  • Lower life expectancy 
  • Generally Stable Population with very little effective growth of population. 
At present, some African countries like Somalia and Sudan are in the stage first of demographic transition. During the colonial era, India was in the first stage of the demographic transition theory.

Second stage: 

The following characteristics are in the second stage of demographic transition theory 
  • Industrialization started
  • Mechanized agriculture in some parts of regions.
  • Urbanization started in some regions
  • High birth rate and low death rate due to good health and hospital facilities; resulted in a high population increment. 
Some states of India are in the second stage, for example, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh

Third stage: 
In the third stage following are:
  • The birth rate starts declining and the stable death rate
  • Life expectancy increase
  • Preference for late marriage
  • People are not willing to support the large family
  • High population increment because of the large population base.
  • Some states in India such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu & Punjab are in the third stage. 
  • Most developing countries are in this stage
Fourth stage:
In the fourth stage following are:
  • The decrease in the birth rate and a decrease in the death rate.
  • Stable population or decrease in population.
  • Very high technology advancement Late marriage Skill specialization
  • End of the conservative thinking
  • Most of the developed countries are in this stage such as Japan, Western European Countries, Australia, etc.

Fifth Stage:

In this stage, the birth rate gets lowered then the death rate, and the actual population starts to decline.

The summary of the demographic transition theory is shown in the following diagram.
Demographic Transition stages
Demographic Transition stages
It is the most acceptable population theory as compared to Malthus and Marxist populations.


Demographic transition stages are not always sequenced in order. After the breaking of the USSR, erstwhile USSR countries apart from Russia showed increases in death rate and went to the first stage of the demographic transition from the second & third stages of the demographic theory, because of the withdrawal of the social security scheme. 

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