Chapter 3

Chapter 3
Demographic Perspectives
Developing a
Demographic Perspective
• Two Questions:
1. What are the causes of population
growth (or, at least, population
2. What are the consequences of
population growth or change?
Chapter Outline
• Premodern Population Doctrines
demographic perspective
(p. 67)
a way of relating basic information to
theories about how the world operates
Doctrine (p. 67)
a principle laid down as true and
beyond dispute
a system of assumptions, accepted
principles, and rules of procedure
devised to analyze, predict, or
otherwise explain a set of phenomena
Theory (p. 67)
Premodern Doctrines
Demographic Perspective
~1,300 bc
Genesis—“Be fruitful and multiply.”
~500 bc
~360 bc
~340 bc
Confucius—Governments should maintain
balance between population and resources.
Plato—population quality more important than
Aristotle—population should be limited;
abortion might be appropriate.
Premodern Doctrines
~100 bc
~400 a.d.
Demographic Perspective
Cicero—population growth necessary to maintain
the Roman Empire.
St. Augustine—abstinence is preferred way to deal
with sexuality; second best is to marry and
The Renaissance in Europe began with
•Trade with the Muslim Ottoman Empire
•The receding of the Black Plague
•Growth of cities
Premodern Doctrines
~1280 a.d.
St. Thomas Aquinas—celibacy is not better than
marriage and procreation.
~1380 a.d.
Ibn Khaldun—population growth increases
occupational specialization and raises incomes.
Procreation stimulated by high hopes and
heightening of animal energies.
Columbian Exchange (p. 72)
the exchange of food, products, people, and
diseases between Europe and the Americas
as a result of explorations by Columbus and
Mercantilism (p. 72)
the view that a nation’s wealth depended on
its store of precious metals and that
generating this kind of wealth was
facilitated by population growth
Physiocratic (p. 73)
the philosophy that the real wealth of a
nation is in the land, not in the number of
Premodern Doctrines
Demographic Perspective
Mercantilism—increasing national wealth depends
on a growing population that can stimulate trade.
Physiocrats—population size depends upon the
wealth of the land, which is stimulated by free
Supported by the demographic analysis of John Graunt,
William Petty and Edmund Halley.
Graunt’s work was based on the Bills of Mortality that
became the first know statistical analysis of demographic
Sussmilch – Improvements in agriculture and industry
would postpone overpopulation into the future.
Chapter Outline
• The Prelude To Malthus
• Major Events/periods preceding the
publication of Malthus’s book on
 Columbian Exchange
 Enlightenment
 French Revolution
Modern Theories
Demographic Perspective
Malthus—population grows exponentially, food
supply grows arithmetically; poverty is the result in
the absence of moral restraint.
Neo-Malthusian—birth control measures are
appropriate checks to population growth.
Marxian—each society has its own law of population
that determines consequences of population growth;
poverty is not the natural result of population growth.
Influences on Malthus
• The writings of the Marquis de
Condorcet were an important
precursor to Malthus’s Essay on
• William Godwin – Scientific progress
would increase the amount of food
far beyond what was possible at the
Malthus’s Principle of Population
The essential element was that
population grew geometrically while
food increased arithmetically
Malthus’s Principle of Population
• checks to growth
Factors that have kept population
growth from reaching its biological
potential for covering the earth with
human bodies.
Checks to growth
• positive checks
Causes of mortality. – War, pestilence, famine
• preventive checks
All possible means of birth control, including
abstinence, contraception, and abortion.
Malthus’s Principle of Population
• moral restraint
According to Malthus, the only
acceptable means of preventing a
birth: postpone marriage, remaining
chaste in the meantime.
• Means of subsistence – Ultimate
check to growth
Malthus’s idea about moral restraint
 Postpone
 Marry
only when you can afford
Chapter Outline
• The Prelude To The Demographic
Transition Theory
• The Theory Of The Demographic
• The Demographic Transition Is Really A
Set Of Transitions
The Malthusian
• Malthus argued that people have a
natural urge to reproduce, and the
increase in the food supply cannot keep
up with population growth.
• The major consequence of population
growth, according to Malthus, is poverty.
• Within that poverty is the stimulus for
action that can lift people out of misery.
Critiques of Malthus
 Assertion
that food production
could not keep up with population
 Conclusion that poverty was an
inevitable result of population
 Belief that moral restraint was the
only acceptable preventive check.
The Marxian Perspective
• Each society at each point in history
has its own law of population that
determines population growth.
 For capitalism, the consequences
are overpopulation and poverty.
 For socialism, population growth is
readily absorbed by the economy
with no side effects.
Marx on Malthus
• Marx
Malthus's "natural law of population” only
natural in capitalist societies
Poverty is the result of the evils off social
John Stuart Mill
• Basic thesis was that the standard of
living is a major determinant of fertility
• The ideal state is that in which all
members of a society are economically
• Fear of slipping socially was a motivation
to limit fertility
• People do not “Propagate like Swine”87
Arsène Dumont
• Late 19th century French demographer
who felt he discovered a new principle of
population called “social capillarity”.
 The desire of people to rise on the
social scale, to increase their
individuality as well as their personal
• To ascend the social hierarchy requires
that sacrifices be made.
Émile Durkheim
• Based an entire social theory on the
consequences of population growth.
• Population growth leads to greater
societal specialization, because the
struggle for existence is more acute
when there are more people.
• View of population growth similar to
Modern Theories
Demographic Perspective
Demographic transition in its original form—the
process where a country moves from high birth and
death rates to low birth and death rates.
Earliest studies suggesting the need to reformulate
demographic transition theory.
Demographic response made by individuals to
population pressures is determined by the means
available to them to respond; causes and consequences
of population change are intertwined.
Demographic change and response
First response people will likely make to the
population growth resulting from a decline in
mortality is to work harder.
Second response would be to migrate.
Theory of the
Demographic Transition
• Emphasizes the importance of
economic and social development.
• Leads first to a decline in mortality
and then to a commensurate decline
in fertility.
• Based on the experience of the
developed nations, and derived from
the modernization theory.
1928 – Warren Thompson
Group C
Group B
Group A
1945 - Frank Notestein
High Potential Growth
Incipient Decline
Modern Theories
Demographic Perspective
Easterlin relative cohort size hypothesis —
successively larger young cohorts put pressure on
young men’s relative wages, forcing them to make a
tradeoff between family size and overall well-being.
Decomposition of the demographic transition into its
separate transitions—mortality, fertility, age,
migration, urbanization, and family and household.
Easterlin Relative Cohort
Size Hypothesis
• The standard of living you
experience in late childhood is the
base from which you evaluate your
chances as an adult.
• If you can improve your income as
an adult compared to your childhood
level, you are more likely to marry
early and have several children.
Modernization Theory
• Macro-level theory that sees human
actors as being buffeted by changing
social institutions.
 Individuals did not deliberately lower
their risk of death to precipitate the
modern decline in mortality.
 Society wide increases in income and
improved public health infrastructure
brought about this change.
Demographic Transition:
A Set of Transitions
1. Mortality transition -shift from
deaths at younger ages due to
disease to deaths at older ages due
to degenerative diseases.
2. Fertility transition- the shift from
natural (and high) to controlled
(and low) fertility.
Demographic Transition:
A Set of Transitions
3. Age transition- social and economic
reactions as societies adjust to
constantly changing age distributions.
4. Migration transition - Growth in the
number of young people in rural areas
will lead to an oversupply of young
people looking for jobs, which
encourages people to leave in search of
economic opportunity.
Demographic Transition:
A Set of Transitions
5. Urban transition - begins with migration
from rural to urban areas and morphs
into urban “evolution” as most humans
are born in, live in, and die in cities.
6. Family and household transition brought about by structural changes
that accompany longer life, lower
fertility, an older age structure, and
urban instead of rural residence.

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