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Curriculum links

Levels 3 and 4: Statistics
Level 3: Number

Social Studies
Levels 3 and 4

  • Culture and heritage
  • Social organisation


Teaching points

The most important demographic characteristic of a population is its age-sex structure. A population pyramid (also known as an age-sex pyramid) is used to show the characteristics of a population – the number or percentage of males and females in different age groups (usually in 5-year age groups). When the population is plotted in this way, the graph looks like a pyramid because there are generally more younger people than older people. The 2006 Census Education Resource provides both detailed information and classroom activities to develop student understanding about population pyramids.

There are many activities on Population pyramids if more activites are required. This is all located in Part One, Social Issues pages 8-21.

Population pyramids are also useful because they tell us about population change. By comparing population pyramids from different years you can tell whether the population is changing over time – for example whether the population is getting younger or older.

Answers for activities

Note: When calculating percentages for total population, questions students must add both sides, then divide by 2 to get an answer. Each side totals 100 percent for each sex.


  1. Pyramid shape
  2. Young population, females live longer, life expectancy not as high for total population.