4 Stages of Demographic Transition Theory – Explained!

Four stages of the Demographic Transition Theory: 1. High Birth Rate of High Death Rate, 2. Rapidly Falling Death Rate & High Birth Rate, 3. Sharply Falling Birth Rate and Low Death Rate, 4. Low Birth Rate and Low Death Rate.

1. High Stationary: High Birth Rate of High Death Rate:

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The first stage is characterised by high birth rate & high death rate, giving a low growth rate of population. This stage is associated with undeveloped, low output and agricultural dominated conditions.

Death rate is high during this stage for a number of reasons. Firstly, people are poor and they cannot afford adequate and balanced diet with the result that they have poor health and they are more prone to diseases. Secondly, living conditions of the people are miserable sanction facilities are inadequate which increase the incidence of decrease and evidences. Thirdly, there is absence of effective medical facilities. Death rate is generally high and it becomes exceptionally high during the period of famines and epidemics.

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The birth rate also is very high during the first stage due to variety of reasons. First by birth rate is high due to illiteracy traditional social and religious beliefs and early age of marriage. Second because there is dearth of knowledge and awareness and facilities for family planning methods & therefore birth rate is not controlled. Thirdly in a predominantly agricultural economy, children are more of an asset & less of a liability.

The cost of bringing up children in an agrarian society is not very large as there is no imperative need & pressure of educating them. On the other hand, they start working at an early age & add to the family income. They are also the traditional source of security in the old age of parents. Finally high death rate, especially in infancy, necessitates high incidence of child birth, so that some children ultimately survive even after taking account of high death rate.

2. Early Expanding Stage: Rapidly Falling Death Rate & High Birth Rate:

The second stage is characterised by a sharp decrease in death rate, but the birth rate remains almost stable resulting in a very high rate of growth of population. This stage emerges when the process of economic development staris in a country.


Economic development leads to a fall in death rate because of its direct & indirect effects on death rate. First, economic development enables people to have adequate & balanced diet, adequate clothing & proper health-care. This improves the health condition and reduces the chances of falling sick. Second, economic development beings about more improvement in condition & health facilities. Third, there are better medical facilities like more doctors and hospitals available of preventive and curative medical facilities.

These facilities bring down death rate. And finally economic development brings about improvement in the means of transportation which makes the supply of food regular. The incidence of famines and epidemic decreases.

All of these factors tend to reduce death rate. Birth rate remains high if at all it falls, the fall is very slight. The birth rate is high because the factors which influence birth rate such as urbanisation, education, attitude towards family size, social traditions, religious attitudes etc. do not change overnight.

3. Later Expanding Stage: Sharply Falling Birth Rate and Low Death Rate:

The third stage is characterised by sharp decrease in birth rate, with death rate remaining constant or falling by small number. As a result the gap between the birth rate and death rate high, so, overall the rate of growth goes on diminishing. As the country develops further, the character of the economy changes from an agrarian to industrialised one. The birth rate falls sharply due to many reasons.



With economic development and urbanisation the economic role of the women outside the home increases. There is availability of more economic opportunities for woman, that can be better utilised with smaller families. The more nuclear families increase the mobility of woman.


People are conscious of maintaining reasonable standard of living. Therefore they like, to have smaller families so as to achieve a high standard of living. They also provide higher education to their children, women also take higher education at this stage.


Because of expansion of education the traditional attitudes, belief and values tend to change and become progressive.


Family planning facilities develop fast which enable the people to practise birth control so as to achieve advantage of small families. On the other hand, death rate falls slowly at this stage because the major decrease in death rate had taken place from the second stage.

4. Low Stationary Stage: Low Birth Rate and Low Death Rate:

The final stage is characterised by low birth rate and low death rate giving a low rate of growth of population. As the country becomes highly developed there is no further possibility of fall in birth rate and death rate. Death rate after having fallen to a certain level cannot possibly fall further because of the fact that death is inevitable and no one can escape death.

Similarly, birth rate cannot fall below a certain level so long as people desire to have families. Furthermore, since all are interested in continuation of families and races, it is essential that birth rate must be higher than the death rate.

Thus, in the final stage the birth rate and death rate becomes stationary at low levels resulting in very low and almost constant steady rate of population. That is why this stage is known as low stationary stage.


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