DepartmentInternational Development Studies
ProfessorAnne- Emanuelle Birn
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IDSB04:Lecture 4 17:15
The demographic transition (chapter 2: box 2-2)
Virtually all societies have gone trough a transition from:
High mortality, high fertility OR
Low mortality, low fertility
This is a theory, not a fact, generation of families over time is an example, family
household decreases with each generation
Two social philosophers: Malthus and Marx
Thomas R.Malthus, An essay on the principle of population (1798): Population
increases geometrically ;subsistence arithmetically. Poverty is the result unless
there is moral restraint.
Problem is increasing arable land, watering, fertilization, and industrial
Karl Marx, Das Kapital (1867): Each mode of production has its corresponding
mode of reproduction
Feudalism where people where tied to land and the more offspring a family had the
more people were able to harvest therefore you had a low fertility rate
Possible Explanations for Decreased fertility
Shift from subsistence agriculture to factory means smaller family size needed.
Higher marginal cost of extra child in urban setting/decline of multi-family
More women educated and in paid labor force. Education could be more work
opportunities but it also mean more knowledge about contraceptive more
negotiating power in the family
Development of social security systems. No longer depending on your offspring
during your old age, there is a retirement plan.
Long workdays/shift work=less leisure time
Contraceptive technologies/birth spacing (1840s condoms).
Preference, economic conditions, family planning and population control which have
been coercive. Women in Puerto Rico were forced to sterilized in the 1800’s.
Abdel Omran and the Epidemiologic Transition
Long-term shifts in overall mortality rates and patterns of disease
As infectious disease reced (and life expectancy increases), they are replaced by
degenerative and so called manmade diseases.
Stages of the Transition (box 2-4)
Pestilence and famine
Women were more custom to eat less, after men and even after children. Women
were more resistance in time of great famine.
A range of factors lead to a lowering rate of pandemics
Quarantine measures and sanitation
Degenerative and human-made diseases
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Diseases come from human conditions
Age of Pestilence and Famine
Low life expectancy
High mortality rates
High swings in mortality
Little population growth
Should also emphasize
Role of warfare and violence (infections)
Interactions of food insecurity with contagious respiratory ailments
Age of Receding Pandemics
Omran’s theory says:
Epidemics less frequent
Infectious disease diminishes
Degenerative diseases slowly rise
Living standard improvements
BUT…19th c. industrialization/urbanization also generated:
Increased industrial death
Increased urban. trade linked infections
Respiratory (crowding, malnutrition)
Gastro-intestinal (poor sanitation, less breast feeding)
The McKeown Thesis: How to explain the modern decline of mortality (box 2-3)
Spontaneous change in the virulence of micro-organisms
Medical measures: yes there are many medical measures are affective but they took
place after mortality declined. They are too late to make a difference.
Public health measures (state policies): majority of mortality decline, especially in
Britian and Wales many people died because of respiratory problems but they are
promoting better gastro-intestinal health
Improvements in standard of living:
What is missing in his argument? Advent of sanitary, improvement of nutrition
TB is on the rise right now, but the graph does not depict that
Age of degenerative and human-made diseases
Industrial “accidents” and exposures
Environmental Toxins. Food production
Work, stress, and class inequality
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