High birth rates and death rates characterize countries in stage one of the Demographic Transition Model (DTM). Stage one is considered the pre-transition or pre-industrial stage. The population remains low and stable, while economic developments are minimal. Many least developed countries are in stage two. Up to the 8th Century, all countries were within stage one.
Characteristics of Stage One Countries:
- High birth rates
- High death rates
- Constant population
- Under development
High Birth Rates
Several factors can influence a country towards high birth rates (annual births per 1,000 people).
Factually, high birth rates can be explained by societies relying heavily on unskilled manual labor or agricultural productivity, since large families convert to a larger workforce.
For stage one country, the cost of raising a child hardly exceeds their household contribution like carrying water, caring for young siblings, collecting firewood, sweeping, cleaning dishes, working in the field, and preparing food.
In other words, there are no entertainment or education expenses, and as the children become adults, they add income to the family.
Another factor contributing to high birth rates includes a lack of family planning and contraception. Therefore, birth rates are only limited by women's ability to bear children.
High Death Rates
In a deeper analysis of circumstances that lead to a high death rate (annual deaths per one 1,000 people), demographers often attribute it to infant mortality and life expectancy.
Infant mortality goes high when health care and medicine are insufficient or limited, while life expectancy goes down when public health and sanitation are inadequate. Other calamities such as diseases, drought, floods, pests, and invasions also contribute largely to high death rates in stage one countries. Nonetheless, even as death rates remain high, there's no question about the need for more children, even if a means exists to prevent them.
Children act as insurance in old age since infant mortality rates are high due to poor health care facilities.
Since death rates and birth rates are comparatively equal in stage one countries, the total population remains constant. Stage one represents the population at the beginning of the Demographic Transition Model. The total population in these countries is low. There's a low growth rate, but the population remains balanced. The balance is because both birth rates and death rates are high (36/37 per 1,000)
It's believed that all human populations had this balance until sometime in the one8th Century when the balance ended in Western Europe. Population growth rates were merely 0.05% over 10,000 years since Agricultural Revolution.
Under development and low living standards are some characteristics of stage one countries.
According to Edward Revocatus (20one6), stage one is the earliest, demographic transition characterized by primary economic activities such as farming practices, pastoralism, small fishing activities, and barter trades. Development of social amenities and infrastructure is minimal or non-existent in stage one countries.