Population Pyramid


A populations pyramid, or age picture diagram, is a sociological tool used to illustrate age distribution within age groups in a population (as of a country or region).



The originator of the population pyramid is unknown. Population pyramid data come from primary sources, including the World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank, UNESCO, CIA, and individual country databases for global health and causes of death. In the United States, the National Institutes for Health (NIH) and census data completed at the federal level are used. In areas without central government population, information can be gathered through privately organized and operated surveying, usually done through academic research groups.

Stages of demographic transition


Population pyramids can tell sociologists more than just the fertility and morality rates of a country. These graphical depictions also tell a story of the equality a population has between the sexes. For example, the population pyramid for China would show a significant number of male youths because after the one child policy went into effect, parents chose to keep male children over female children. Similarly, male dominated societies and countries that devalue females would have a male-skewed pyramid.

Economists and corporations can also use population pyramids, among other tools, for applications such as choosing the best markets for certain goods and services. They also show how a population is growing, allowing for infrastructure planning, and other such population-based decision making.

Furthermore, some demographers claim that historical and future periods of social unrest can be predicted by identifying a so-called youth bulge. A youth bulge occurs when a country has a large unemployed youth population, as in the case of the modern-day Middle East.

See also World Health Organization .



Fuller, Gary. “The Demographic Backdrop to Ethnic Conflict: A Geographic Overview.” Washington, DC: CIA.


Population Action. “The Shape of Things to Come.” http://populationaction.org/Publications2/Data_and_Maps/Shape_of_Things_to_Come/Summary.php (accessed October 12, 2012).

World Life Expectancy. “World Population Pyramid.” http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/world-populationpyramid (accessed October 12, 2012).


National Institutes of Health, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD, 20892, (301) 496-4000, NIHinfo@od.nih.gov, nih.gov.

World Health Organization, Avenue Appia 20, 1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland, 2241 791 21 11, Fax: 2241 791 31 11, info@who.int, http://www.who.int .

Alyson C. Heimer, MA

  This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.