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Population Growth vs. Population Change: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 15, 2023
Population growth refers to the increase in numbers, while population change encompasses both growth and decline.

Key Differences

Population growth specifically refers to the increase in the number of individuals in a given area. This growth can be attributed to factors such as birth rates, immigration, or an increase in the longevity of individuals. On the other hand, population change is a broader term that includes both the increase and decrease in the number of individuals. This change can result from not just births and immigration but also deaths and emigration.
When one speaks of population growth, they are predominantly focusing on positive numerical changes. It implies that there are more people now than there were before. However, population change doesn't carry an inherently positive or negative connotation. It simply states that the number has shifted, be it upwards or downwards.
Economists and demographers often monitor population growth because it can influence economic activities, from consumer demand to the availability of labor. In contrast, population change is crucial for urban planners and policymakers because it can signify shifts in demographics, potentially requiring changes in infrastructure or policies.
Population growth can result in various challenges, such as overcrowding, increased demand for resources, or environmental degradation. In contrast, population change, when referring to a decrease, might indicate aging populations, economic downturns, or even challenges like increased mortality due to diseases.
While population growth usually calls for strategies to manage increasing numbers, population change requires a more versatile approach. Recognizing and adapting to both growth and decline is crucial for sustainable development and societal well-being.

Comparison Chart


Refers to the increase in number of individuals.
Refers to both increase and decrease in number of individuals.


Generally positive, indicating an increase.
Neutral; indicates a shift, either increase or decrease.

Common Causes

Births, immigration, increased longevity.
Births, deaths, immigration, emigration.


Can result in challenges like overcrowding or resource demand.
Requires versatile strategies for both growth and decline.

Monitored By

Economists, demographers.
Urban planners, policymakers.

Population Growth and Population Change Definitions

Population Growth

The positive change in population figures over a period.
The country focused on sustainable measures to accommodate its population growth.

Population Change

The difference in population figures over time.
The country's population change was minimal due to balanced birth and death rates.

Population Growth

Expansion of the total count of individuals in a specific location.
Rapid population growth can strain local resources and services.

Population Change

The dynamic of increasing or decreasing numbers in a population.
Urban areas often experience more rapid population change compared to rural regions.

Population Growth

The rise in the number of individuals within a particular region.
Population growth in coastal areas is a concern for environmentalists.

Population Change

Variability in demographic numbers within a region.
Population change can influence urban planning and development.

Population Growth

An increase in the number of inhabitants in an area.
The city saw significant population growth in the past decade.

Population Change

Alteration in the total count of a particular area's residents.
Recent population change statistics reveal an aging demographic.

Population Growth

An upward shift in the demographic numbers of a region.
The population growth of the town was due to the new factory attracting workers.

Population Change

A shift, either positive or negative, in the number of inhabitants.
The population change in the city was due to both births and migrations.


Which term is broader, population growth or population change?

Population change is broader as it includes both increases and decreases.

Can population change result from emigration?

Yes, population change can result from both immigration (coming in) and emigration (going out).

What does population growth primarily refer to?

Population growth refers to the increase in the number of individuals in a particular area.

Is population change always about an increase in numbers?

No, population change encompasses both growth (increase) and decline (decrease).

Is population growth always good for a country?

Not always, rapid growth without proper resources and planning can lead to challenges.

What are typical causes of population growth?

Births, immigration, and increased longevity are common causes.

Who typically monitors population change?

Urban planners and policymakers often monitor population change.

Can population growth lead to challenges?

Yes, challenges like overcrowding, increased resource demand, and environmental issues can arise.

Can population change be temporary?

Yes, factors like short-term migration can cause temporary population change.

How is population growth measured?

It's typically measured as a percentage increase from one period to another.

Can both terms, population growth and population change, be used interchangeably?

No, while related, they have distinct meanings; growth indicates an increase, while change can be an increase or decrease.

Do birth rates directly impact population growth?

Yes, higher birth rates can lead to higher population growth.

Can environmental factors influence population growth?

Yes, factors like clean water, food availability, and climate can influence population growth.

Does urbanization impact population change?

Yes, urban areas often see significant population change due to migration and development.

Why is population growth important to economists?

It can influence economic activities, from consumer demand to labor availability.

Is high population growth sustainable?

It depends on resources, planning, and adaptability. Uncontrolled growth can lead to challenges.

Does a negative population change indicate problems?

Not necessarily, but it might indicate aging populations, economic challenges, or health issues.

Can policy changes influence population change?

Yes, policies related to immigration, health, or economic incentives can impact population change.

Is population growth the same worldwide?

No, different regions have different rates and causes of population growth.

What's a common consequence of negative population change?

Aging populations can be a result of prolonged negative population change.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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