Demography is the study of human population dynamics. It encompasses the study of the size, structure and distribution of populations, and how populations change over time due to births, deaths, migration and ageing. Demographic analysis can relate to whole societies or to groups defined by criteria such as education, nationality, religion and ethnicity.
In many countries, particularly in the third world, reliable demographic data are still difficult to obtain. For example, during the 1980s the population of Nigeria was widely estimated to be around 110 million, before it was established to be as little as 89 million (without adjustment for undercounting) in a census carried out in 1991.
The total fertility rate, the number of live births per woman completing her reproductive life, if her childbearing at each age reflected current age-specific fertility rates.
The gross reproduction rate, the number of daughters who would be born to a woman completing her reproductive life at current age-specific fertility rates.
The net reproduction rate is the number of daughters who would be born to a woman according to current age-specific fertility and mortality rates.
Note that the crude death rate as defined above and applied to a whole population can give a misleading impression. For example, the number of deaths per 1000 people can be higher for developed nations than in less-developed countries, despite standards of health being better in developed countries. This is because developed countries have relatively more older people, who are more likely to die in a given year, so that the overall mortality rate can be higher even if the mortality rate at any given age is lower. A more complete picture of mortality is given by a life table which summarises mortality separately at each age. A life table is necessary to give a good estimate of life expectancy.