CBSE NCERT Class IX (9th) | Social Studies | Geography

Chapter  : POPULATION

Population Size and Distribution


People are producers and consumers of resources. It is the people who form a nation and help develop its economy. Population is the point of reference from which all other elements are observed.

A census is an official enumeration of the population of a country that is recorded periodically. The Indian census is the most comprehensive source of demographic, social and economic data of India. The first census in India was taken in 1872. Censuses have been held regularly every ten years.

The census provides answers to three primary questions about the population:
  • Population size and distribution
  • Population growth and processes of population change
  • Characteristics or qualities of the population

As per the March 2001 census, India’s population stood at 1028 million and accounted for 16.7% of the world’s population.

Almost half of India’s population lives in five states - Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh is the most populated state of India with 166 million people. Population density is the number of persons that live in one square kilometre of an area. India is one of the most densely populated countries of the world.


Rugged terrain and unfavourable climatic conditions are the main reasons for the sparse population in these areas. Moderate to low rainfall and less fertile soils also influence the population density.

Population Change

People are producers and consumers of resources. Population is the point of reference from which all other elements are observed. A census is an official enumeration of population, done periodically.

The Indian Census is the most comprehensive source of demographic, social and economic data.

It provides answers to three primary issues:
  • Population size and distribution
  • Population growth and processes of population change
  • Characteristics or qualities of the population

India’s population as on March 2001 stood at 1,028 million, which is 16.7 per cent of the world’s population.

With a population size of 166 million people, Uttar Pradesh is the most populated state in India. Almost half of India’s population lives in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.


Population Composition

Age composition indicates the number of people that belong to different age groups.

The population of a nation is generally grouped into three broad categories:
  • Children
  • Working age adults
  • Aged

Dependency ratio is the ratio of the dependent population to the working-age population of the country. The percentage of children and the aged affect the dependency ratio.


Sex ratio is the ratio of males to females in a population. It is calculated as the number of females per 1000 males of the population. The sex ratio in India has always remained unfavourable to females.

Occupational Structure and Health

Literacy is a very important indicator of the quality of a population. Literacy rates are a crucial measure of a country’s human resources.

As per the Census of 2001, a literate person:
  • Is aged 7 years and above, and
  • Can read and write with understanding in any language.

Literate people generally have a higher socio-economic status, and enjoy better health and employment prospects. Low levels of literacy can hamper the economic development of the country.

Occupational structure refers to the distribution of the workforce in different occupations. Occupations are generally classified as primary, secondary and tertiary.

Primary activities include agriculture, animal husbandry, collecting wood or other forest products, fishing, and mining activities for raw material. Secondary activities include the manufacturing industry, building and construction work, and other similar activities that create finished products. Tertiary activities include transport, communications, commerce, administration and other services. About 64% of the people in India are associated with farming and allied occupations. 13-20% of people are involved in secondary and tertiary occupations.

The health of the population affects the development process of the country. Due to sustained efforts of the government, India’s death rate has declined from 25 per 1000 population in 1951 to 8.1 per 1000 in 2001 and the life expectancy at birth has increased to 64.6 years in 2001.

The per capita calorie consumption is much below the recommended levels and malnutrition afflicts a large percentage of our population.

To control and stabilise the growth of population, the Government of India initiated the National Family Planning Programme in 1952. The programme was to promote responsible and planned parenthood on a voluntary basis.

The National Population Policy (NPP) was adopted in the year 2000 and provides a policy framework to address the issues of child survival, maternal health and contraception. NPP 2000 aims at: imparting free and compulsory school education up to 14 years of age, reducing infant mortality rate to below 30 per 1000 live births, immunising children against preventable diseases, promoting delayed marriage for girls, and making family welfare a people-centred programme.

The adolescent population constitutes one-fifth of the India’s total population. Adolescents have higher nutrition requirements than children or adults.

NPP 2000 identified adolescents as a section of the population that needs greater attention.
Besides nutritional requirements, the NPP laid emphasis on protecting adolescents from unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases (STD).

The NPP also initiated programmes aimed at encouraging delayed marriage and child-bearing, educating adolescents about the risks of unprotected sex, making contraceptive services accessible and affordable, providing food supplements and nutritional services, and adopting legal measures to prevent child marriage.

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