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The Human Population: Patterns, Processes, and Problematics Lecture #4: Demographic Perspectives. Paul Sutton Department of Geography University of Denver. Establishing your ‘Demographic Perspective’.

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the human population patterns processes and problematics lecture 4 demographic perspectives

The Human Population:Patterns, Processes, and ProblematicsLecture #4: Demographic Perspectives

Paul Sutton

Department of Geography

University of Denver

establishing your demographic perspective
Establishing your ‘Demographic Perspective’
  • Most people have a demographic perspective which influences attitudes about immigration, english-only policy, foreign aid, etc.
  • By taking this class you will be exposed to a significantly larger and more diverse set of ‘Demographic Perspectives’ that will hopefully allow you to develop a fairly sophisticated one.
  • Demography at the ‘Core’; whereas, various other ‘Theories’ are influential in their attempts to link basic demographic phenomoena with social, economic, and political processes.
development of demographic perspective
Development of ‘Demographic Perspective’
  • Basic Questions to answer:
    • What causes populations to grow and change?
    • What are the consequences of population growth?
  • Doctrine vs. Theory
    • Plato, Adam Smith, etc. produced Doctrine
    • Easterlin, contemporary demographers produce Theory
  • Doctrine is statement of perceived Truth
  • Theory is a scientific approach to explaining observations and generally evolves with time.
examples of pre modern doctrines concerning population
Examples of Pre-Modern Doctrines Concerning Population

~1300 b.c. Book of Genesis: “Be Fruitful & Multiply”

~500 b.c. Confucius: Pop Growth Good; but, Govt. should balance population with resources

360 b.c. Plato:Pop Quality more important than Pop Quantity

340 b.c. Aristotle: Pop size should be limited abortion ok

~100 b.c. Cicero: Pop growth good to maintain Roman Empire

~400 A.D. St Augustine: Abstinence best, Marry & breed 2nd

~1280 A.D. Thomas Aquinas:Celibacy NOT better than marrying

~1380 A.D. Ibn Khaldun: Population Growth necessarily good because it increases occupational specialization and raises incomes.

1500-1800 Mercantilism: Increasing National Wealth depends on growing population that can stimulate export trade

1700-1800 Physiocrats: Wealth of a nation is in land, not people; therefore population size depends upon the wealth of the land, which is stimulated by free trade (laissez faire)

modern theories of demography
Modern Theories of Demography
  • 1798 Malthus: Pop grows exponentially; Food Supply Arithmetically, Misery & Poverty result in absence of ‘moral restraint’
  • 1800 Neo-Malthusians: Same as Malthus but birth control ok
  • 1844 Marxism: Each society has their own demographic destiny; Poverty not a natural result of population growth
  • 1870-1930 Precursors of Demographic Transition Theory (Mill, Dumont, Thompson)
  • 1945 Demographic Transition Theory: Evolution of Birth & Death Rates stable pop > Growing pop > stable pop
  • 1963 Theory of Demographic Change and Response: Causes and Consequences of Population Change are intertwined
  • 1968 Relative Cohort Size: Ever increasing cohorts impact earning power and trade-offs are made between family size and standard of living
  • 1890-Present Various Other Theories of Predictable Consequences of Population Growth (Boserup, Goldstone, Durkheim, etc.)

Debates about the social, economic, and environmental

Consequences of human population growth have raged for centuries. The figure on the right summarizes some of the diverse perspectives that have arisen from these dialogs.

18 th century europe prelude to malthus 1798 essay
18th Century Europe Prelude to Malthus’ 1798 essay
  • Optimistic Time for Liberal Democracy
    • Marquis de Condorcet(shaped French Revolution but was nonetheless killed by revolutionaries wrote: Sketch for an historical picture of the progress of the human mind Book was an outlandish writing that argued for universal education, universal suffrage, equality before the law, freedom of thought and expression, women’ rights, redistribution of wealth, system of national insurance and pensions – what a wacky liberal )
    • William Godwin(father of Mary Shelly who wrote Frankenstein wrote a don’t worrybe happy book titled:Enquiry concerning Political Justice and its influences on Morals and Happiness
  • Perfectibility of Human Society seemed possible
  • There were poor people (lots of them) but they existed because of bad social institutions (according to Godwin & Condorcet)
  • Malthus shows up and pisses on this parade of optimism in his 1898 Essay on the Principle of Population
thomas robert malthus 1766 1834
Thomas Robert Malthus 1766-1834

In this famous work, Malthus posited his hypothesis that

(unchecked) population growth always exceeds the growth

of means of subsistence. Actual (checked) population

growth is kept in line with food supply growth by "positive checks“

(starvation, disease and the like, elevating the death rate) and

"preventive checks" (i.e. postponement of marriage, etc. that

keep down the birthrate), both of which are characterized by

"misery and vice". Malthus's hypothesis implied that actual

population always has a tendency to push above the food supply.

Because of this tendency, any attempt to ameliorate the condition

of the lower classes by increasing their incomes or improving

agricultural productivity would be fruitless, as the extra means

of subsistence would be completely absorbed by an induced boost

in population. As long as this tendency remains, Malthus argued,

the "perfectibility" of society will always be out of reach.

In his much-expanded and revised 1803 edition of the Essay, Malthus concentrated on bringing empirical evidence to bear (much of it acquired on his extensive travels to Germany, Russia and Scandinavia). He also introduced the possibility of "moral restraint" (voluntary abstinence which leads to neither misery nor vice) bringing the unchecked population growth rate down to a point where the tendency is gone. In practical policy terms, this meant inculcating the lower classes with middle-class virtues. He believed this could be done with the introduction of universal suffrage, state-run education for the poor and, more controversially, the elimination of the Poor Laws and the establishment of an unfettered nation-wide labor market. He also argued that once the poor had a taste for luxury, then they would demand a higher standard of living for themselves before starting a family. Thus, although seemingly contradictory, Malthus is suggesting the possibility of "demographic transition", i.e. that sufficiently high incomes may be enough by themselves to reduce fertility.

charles darwin on malthus
Charles Darwin on Malthus

"In October 1838, that is, fifteen months after

I had begun my systematic inquiry, I happened

to read for amusement Malthus’ on Population,

and being well prepared to appreciate the

struggle for existence which everywhere

goes on from long- continued observation

of the habits of animals and plants, it at once

struck me that under these circumstances

favorable variations would tend to be

preserved, and unfavorable ones to be

destroyed. The results of this would be

the formation of a new species. Here, then

I had at last got a theory by which to work".

Charles Darwin, from his autobiography. (1876)

summarizing the principle of population
Summarizing The Principle of Population
  • Cause of Population Growth:
    • People naturally breed more than enough to replace themselves
  • Consequence of Population Growth:
    • Population oustrips food supply, starvation & misery
  • Avoiding the Consequences:
    • Moral Restraint
criticism of malthus there s a lot of it
Criticism of Malthus(there’s a lot of it)
  • Malthus Essay on the Principle of Population must have been important because it has been attacked by so many.
  • Flawed Premises: Population growth geometric, Food Growth arithmetic (linear), Population growth causes poverty.
  • Failure to anticipate Technological progress and change.
neo malthusians
  • People like Garret Hardin, Paul Ehrlich, Lester Brown, Sandra Postell, and others still contend that a growing population causes social, economic, political, and environmental problems.
  • “There are good reasons for using Malthus as a point of departure in the discussion of population theory. These are the reasons that made his work influential in his day and make it influential now. But they have little to do with whether his views are right or wrong….Malthus’ theories are not now and never were empirically valid, but they nevertheless were theoretically significant.”
the marxist perspective
The Marxist Perspective
  • Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels teenagers in Germany in 1834 when Malthus died. Malthus influential there and laws against marriage unless you could demonstrate financial viability. Unintended consequence: more kids out of wedlock on the dole.
  • Marxist theory has no explanation for the ‘why’ of population growth (essentially agrees with Malthus). However, the consequences of population growth are dependent upon the social, economic, and political system in place. Capitalism produces overpopulation and poverty; Socialism allows for ready absorption of new population into economy with no problems.
  • Capitalism created overpopulation intentionally to be used as a tool to keep labor in its place. Thus capitalism, not overpopulation, caused poverty.
criticism of the marxists
Criticism of the Marxists
  • Marx and later Lenin held that under Socialism there would be no population problem(s).
  • Russia and China both had problems of a very different nature: Russia was de-populating whereas China’s population was growing too much.
  • In fact, China perceived its population problems to be so profound that it initiated the coercive “one-child’ policy to curb its population growth. Promoting both later marriage (Malthusian) and abortion and contraception (Neo-Malthusian)
history of united nations population conferences
History of United Nations Population Conferences
  • 1972 Bucharest: Developed Countries to 3rd World: “Stop having so many Children you’ll undermine your economic development” 3rd World Response: “Development is the best Contraceptive”
  • 1982 Mexico City: Developed Countries to 3rd World: “Population growth has nothing to do with economic development” 3rd World Response: “Can we have some foreign aid to help us curb these wild growth rates”
  • 1992 Cairo: “It’s all about status of women” The Population – Feminist – Environmentalist rallying cry
prelude to demographic transition theory
Prelude to Demographic Transition Theory
  • John Stuart Mill
  • Arsene Dumont
  • Emile Durkheim
john stuart mill 1806 1873
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
  • Standard of Living influences Fertility:
    • ‘In proportion as mankind rises above the condition of the beast, population is restrained by the fear of want, rather than by want itself. Even where there is no question of starvation, many are similarly acted upon by the apprehension of losing what have come to be regarded as the decencies of their situation in life.’
  • Population & Resources in a race. By increasing people’s standard of living you can decrease birth rates. (post Plague, post French Revolution)
  • Empowering women reduces birth rates because women want fewer children than men.
arsene dumont
Arsene Dumont
  • People limit their fertility to allow climbing the social ladder; rather, than Mill’s ideas about falling down the social ladder. “Social capillarity”
  • Democracy increases social mobility thus causing lower fertility rates
  • Dumont was consequently an ardent socialist because he thought socialism would increase birth rates
emile durkheim 1858 1917
Emile Durkheim(1858-1917)
  • Focused more on the consequences of population growth rather than the causes
  • “The division of labor varies in direct ratio with the volume and density of societies, and, if it progresses in a continuous manner in the course of social development, it is because societies become regularly denser and more voluminous”
  • Population growth leads to specialization which echoes Darwin and Ibn Khaldun
demographic transition theory
Demographic Transition Theory
  • Describes a transition from High Birth and Death rates to Low Birth and Death rates with population growth during transiton (cause death rates drop first)
  • Warren Thompson (1929) showed that countries fell into three main groups:
    • Group A (Western Europe and U.S.) High increase to Low increase eventually to negative growth
    • Group B (Italy, Spain, and Central Europe) dropping growth rates. 30-50 years ahead of Group A
    • Group C (The rest of the world) Little or no control over birth or death rates
criticism of demographic transition theory
Criticism of Demographic Transition Theory
  • Theory must match empirical observations, explain, and predict.
  • Many state that the Demographic Transition Theory only describes what has happened in some countries at certain times.
  • What is the ‘cause’ of the changes to birth and death rates? Modernization, Industrialization, Improvements in Health Care, Changes to the status of women?
reformulation of demographic transition theory
Reformulation of Demographic Transition Theory
  • Geographic studies of the spatial diffusion of fertility decline in places like Spain took place along cultural rather than levels of urbanization or economic development.
  • A certain level of economic development is a necessary but not sufficient condition for fertility decline. New ideas suggested that secularization a more important pre-cursor of fertility decline.
  • Macro to Micro explanations for fertility decline
    • Rational Choice Theory, the wealth flow in pre-modern societies is from children to parents but this changes as a society becomes modern. Children as helpers on the farm to children as expensive tuition bills and sullen teenage looks.
demographic transition as a set of transtions
Demographic Transition asa set of transtions
  • The Epidemiological Transition: Lower death rates from improved sanitation, antibiotics, etc.
  • The Fertility Transition: Shift from high (uncontrolled) birth rates to low (controlled) birth rates
  • The Migration Transition: Spatial differences in the aforementioned transitions and technological gains create an overpopulated rural area.
  • The Age Transition: Much larger older population
  • The Family and Household transition: Structural changes to economy and society resulting from older more urban population
theory of demographic change and response
Theory of Demographic Change and Response
  • How do causes and consequences of population growth interact? Are they independent?
  • Specifically: “How and under what conditions can a mortality decline lead to a fertility decline?”
  • As mortality declines, more children survive to adulthood, more pressure on family resources, family responds to pressures.
  • Family response is to Personal Goals, NOT National goals.
  • I have two sisters and a brother (my parents had four children). I have one child and at most will have one more. Kingsley Davis and Richard Easterlin might argue that I am limiting my fertility in order to maintain the same or better standard of living that my parents had.
easterlin s relative cohort size hypotheis
Easterlin’s Relative Cohort Size Hypotheis
  • People want to live at or better than the standard of living they experienced as teenagers.
  • If your prospects look good you will breed early, if they look bad you will postpone breeding.
  • Age structure of aggregate population also comes into play in a demographic feedback cycle:
  • “The increase in relative cohort size that occurs as a result of declining mortality during the demographic transition in part determines when the fertility portion of the transition begins. The increasing proportion of young adults generates a downward pressure on young men’s relative wages; this in turn causes young adults to accept a tradeoff between family size and material well-being. This acceptance of a tradeoff could mark a turning point in a society’s regulation of fertility, setting in motion a “cascade” or “snowball” effect in which total fertility rates tumble as social norms regarding individual control of fertility and accaptable family sizes begin to change” (Macunovich 2000)
  • Some people are now suggesting that one response to this kind of pressure was more women entering the workforce.
theories about the consquences of population growth
Theories about the Consquences of Population Growth
  • Malthus laid down the gauntlet and stated population growth inevitably results in misery.
  • Much of pre 20th century thought addressed these issues.
  • 20th century thought has gone back to looking at causes rather than consequences of population growth to gain greater understanding of the big picture (fertility, mortality, migration, age and sex structure, population attributes and spatial distribution)
  • Modern Outlook: Population Growth not a simple thing; not caused by any specific set of forces, not necessarily resulting in any particular consequences
consquences continued
Consquences continued…
  • Jack Goldstone: Population growth a precursor of early modern world. Large young populations forced change and revolution
  • Stephen Sanderson (also Boserup, Durkheim & others) “Had paleo-lithic hunter gatherers been able to keep their populations from growing, the whole world would likely still be surviving entirely by hunting and gathering” Population growth as driving force behind agricultural and industrial revolution.
  • Robert Kaplan’s The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the dreams of the Post Cold War posits that demographic forces in tandem with natural and institutional resource shortages paint an ugly near future for the human race.
why are there so few demography departments in colleges and universities
Why are there so few Demography departments in Colleges and Universities?
  • Demography is weak on theory but strong on evidence. The evidence or empirical observations are numerous and confusing which makes it difficult to generate overarching theory.
  • Demography is embedded in many other disciplines (Geography, History, Sociology, Economics, Political Science) Statistics may meet the same fate.
a provocative hypothesis involving demographic perspectives
A provocative hypothesisinvolving demographic perspectives
  • Stephen Leavitt – Noted author of “Freakonomics” and professor of Economics at the University of Chicago had a very controversial explanation for the drop in crime rates in the early 1990s.

What was it?

next up population processes
Next Up: Population Processes
  • Chapter 4: Mortality
  • Chapter 5: Fertility Concepts and Measures
  • Chapter 6: The Fertility Transition
  • Chapter 7: Migration