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Chapter 8: Global Stratification and Demography

8.7 End-of-Chapter Material

  1. The nations of the world differ dramatically in wealth and other resources, with the poorest nations being found in Africa and parts of Asia.
  2. To understand global stratification, it is useful to classify the world’s nations into three categories: wealthy nations, middle-income nations, and poor nations. The middle category is often subdivided into upper-middle-income nations and lower-middle-income nations.
  3. Several measures of global poverty and global inequality help us to understand the nature and extent of global stratification and identify the nations most in need of help.
  4. Global poverty has a devastating impact on the lives of hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. Poor nations have much higher rates of mortality and disease and lower rates of literacy.
  5. Global poverty especially affects women and children, who suffer in many ways from the effects of poverty in poor nations.
  6. Modernization theory attributes global poverty to the failure of poor nations to develop the necessary beliefs, values, and practices to achieve economic growth.
  7. Dependency theory attributes global poverty to the colonization and exploitation by European nations of nations in other parts of the world.
  8. A sociological perspective suggests that efforts to reduce global poverty need to address continuing exploitation of poor nations by wealthy nations and multinational corporations, and that these efforts will succeed to the extent that they also reduce ethnic and gender inequality.
  9. Demography is the study of population. It encompasses three central concepts: fertility, morality, and migration, which together determine population growth. Fertility and mortality vary by race and ethnicity, and they also vary around the world, with low-income nations having both higher fertility and higher mortality than high-income nations.
  10. The world’s population is growing by about 80 million people annually. Population growth is greatest in the low-income nations of Africa and other regions, while in several industrial nations it’s actually on the decline because birth rates have become so low. The world’s population reached 6.8 billion by the beginning of the 21st century and is projected to grow to more than 9 billion by 2050, with most of this occurring in low-income nations. The annual rate of population growth will decline in the years ahead.
  11. Thomas Malthus predicted that the earth’s population would greatly exceed the world’s food supply. Although his prediction did not come true, hunger remains a serious problem around the world. Although food supply is generally ample thanks to improved technology, the distribution of food is inadequate in low-income nations. Fresh water in these regions is also lacking. Demographic transition theory helps explain why population growth did not continue to rise as much as Malthus predicted. As societies become more technologically advanced, first death rates and then birth rates decline, leading eventually to little population growth.
  12. Urbanization is a consequence of population growth. Cities first developed in ancient times after the rise of horticultural and pastoral societies and “took off” during the Industrial Revolution as people moved to be near factories. Urbanization led to many social changes then and continues today to affect society.


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Exploring Our Social World: The Story of Us by Jean Ramirez; Rudy Hernandez; Aliza Robison; Pamela Smith; and Willie Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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