Be a Demographer

  • By Susan K. Lewis
  • Posted 04.20.04
  • NOVA

In 1950, the term "population explosion" was unheard of, yet the conditions for runaway population growth were in place. Death rates in the developed world had plummeted, and those in the developing world were falling as well, while birthrates remained high. Today, demographic data continue to foretell dramatic changes ahead, though various countries have starkly different prospects. In this game, get a glimpse of the future for the U.S., Japan, Kenya, and India.

Launch Interactive

Play a matching game to see how demographic data will shape the future of the U.S., Japan, Kenya, and India.

This feature originally appeared on the site for the NOVA program World in the Balance.


The demographic data in this game were drawn from the United Nations Population Division's (UNPD) World Population Prospects: The 2002 Revision and World Urbanization Prospects: The 2001 Revision.

Data for 2050 are according to the UNPD's "medium variant" projections, which assume that fertility in high-fertility countries such as Kenya will decline dramatically in coming decades, as they have in the recent past. The UNPD's model also makes assumptions about the impact of HIV/AIDS on mortality. There is uncertainty in both assumptions.

For some categories, such as net migration, UNPD data are given for a five-year period. For this feature, the 1950 data reflect the period 1950-1955, the 2000 data reflect 2000-2005, and the 2050 data reflect 2045-2050.


Special Thanks

John Bongaarts, Population Council


Courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

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