Chapter 20: Population and Urbanization
The Population “Explosion”
- Social-scientific analysts of human population.
The Malthusian Trap
- Malthus’s theory rests on two undeniable facts and a questionable assumption
- the facts: people must eat, and they are driven by a strong sexual urge
- the assumption: although the food supply increases slowly and arithmetically, population size grows quickly and geometrically
- specifically, only two forces can hold population growth in check
- first are “preventive” measures, such as abortion, infanticide, and prostitution
- Malthus called these “vices” because he morally opposed them and thought everyone else ought to also
- second are “positive checks,” such as war, pestilence, and famine
- Malthus recognized that positive checks create much suffering
- yet he felt they are the only forces that can be allowed to control population growth
- Malthusian trap
- A cycle of population growth followed by an outbreak of war, pestilence or famine that keeps population growth in check.
Demographic Transition Theory
- demographic transition theory
- Explains how changes in fertility and mortality affected population growth from preindustrial to postindustrial times.
The Preindustrial Period
- crude death rate
- The annual number of deaths per 1000 people in a population.
- crude birth rate
- The annual number of live births per 1000 people in a population.
- in the preindustrial era, most people wanted to have as many children as possible
- that was partly because relatively few children survived till adulthood
- in addition, children were considered a valuable source of agricultural labour and a form of old age security in a society consisting largely of peasants and lacking
anything resembling a modern welfare state
The Early Industrial Period
- the second stage of European population growth was the early industrial, or transition, period
- at the stage, the crude death rate dropped
- people’s life expectancy, or average life span, increased because economic growth led to improved nutrition and hygiene
- however, the crude birth rate remained high
- with people living longer and women having nearly as many babies as in the preindustrial era, the population grew rapidly
The Mature Industrial Period
- this third stage of European population growth was the mature industrial period
- at this stage, the crude death rate continued to fall
- the crude birth rate fell even more dramatically
- the crude birth rate fell because economic growth eventually changed people’s traditional beliefs about the value of having many children
- having many children made sense in an agricultural society, where children were a valuable economic resource
- in contrast, children were more of an economic burden in an industrial society, since breadwinners were employed outside the home and children contributed little,
if anything, to the economic welfare of the family
- cultural lag
- Refer to the gap that occurs between rapidly technological change and slower changes in norms and values.
The Postindustrial Period
- replacement level
- The number of children that each woman must have on average for population size to remain stable, ignoring migration. The replacement level is 2.1.
- immigration, or in-migration
- The inflow of people into one country from one or more other countries and their settlement in the destination country.
Population and Social Inequality
- Marx argued that the problem of overpopulation is specific to capitalism
- in his view, overpopulation is not a problem of too many people
- rather, it is a problem of too much poverty
- sex ratio
- The ratio of women to men in a geographical area.
- driven by lack of economic opportunity in the countryside, political unrest, and other factors, many millions of people flock to big cities in the world’s poor countries
- thus, most of the fastest-growing cities in the world today are in semi-industrialized countries
From the Preindustrial to the Industrial City
− preindustrial cities differed from those that developed in the industrial era in several ways
− preindustrial cities were typically smaller, less densely populated, built within protective walls, and organized around a central square and places of worship − the industrial cities that began to emerge at the end of the eighteenth century were more dynamic and complex social systems
− a host of social problems, including poverty, pollution, and crime, accompanied th