Abstract

The method of decomposition is applied to rates of natural increase in order to elucidate the role played by age composition in the growth of populations. A population’s age distribution and fertility schedule are contrasted to those in a "stationary" population having the same mortality rates and having a fertility schedule equal to that of the observed population divided by its net reproduction rate. In this manner it is shown that about one-quarter to one-third of the growth of most current high-growth populations can be attributed to non-stationarity of their age distributions. This fraction will rise, as it has in most industrialized countries, if fertility is reduced and age distributions become middle-heavy. In projections of the 1963 Venezuelan female population with fertility rates declining by 20/0 and 1% annually, more than half of the growth (in numbers) that occurs prior to zero-growth attainment is contributed by non-stationarity of its intervening age distributions.

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