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Multilingual Demographic Dictionary, second unified edition, English volume
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A part of population theory (105-1) is concerned with the social and economic determinants and consequences of population trends. The theoretical treatment of population was largely centered in the past on the relation between total population and resources 1, i.e., the means available to maintain the population, or production 2, the creation of goods and services. More recently, the emphasis has shifted to the interrelations between population growth (701-1) and its components, and economic growth (903-1), particularly with respect to consumption 3, saving 4, investment 5 and labor market 6★.
Consideration of the relations between population size and resources leads to the concepts of overpopulation 1 and underpopulation 2. These terms are defined only at a given fixed level of development 3. When neither a larger nor a smaller population would yield advantages, there is said to be an optimum population 4, sometimes briefly called an optimum 4. The advantages yielded may be economic in character and in that case it is an economic optimum 5. The discussion of economic optima generally proceeds in terms of economic welfare but, as this is difficult to ascertain empirically, the level of living 6 or standard of living 6 is sometimes substituted. This is approximated by the real national income per capita 7 i.e., the total amount of goods and services produced in a particular period (or its equivalent in money income adjusted for variation in purchasing power) divided by the total population during the period.
- 1. Overpopulation, n. - overpopulated, adj.
- 2. Underpopulation, n. - underpopulated, adj.
- 5. Some writers have used the concept of a power optimum and a social optimum as well as of an economic optimum.
- 6. The expression "standard of living" is restricted by some economists to mean an accepted goal or recognized set of needs, as constrasted with the level of living actually attained. Others use these terms interchangeably.
- 7. Other measures such as the gross national product per capita, are also used. "Per capita", although grammatically incorrect, is used in place of the expression "per head".
Economists have emphasized the dynamic relations between economic growth 1 or economic development 1 and rates of population growth and changes in population structure; they are less interested today in the static concept of an optimum size, than in the dynamic concept of the optimum rate of growth 2 of population, i.e., the rate of growth which will be consistent with the maximum rate of increase of the level of living. These relations are of particular concern in countries with a low level of living, which have come to be called less developed countries 3 or developing countries 3.
- 3. Also: underdeveloped countries or low-income countries. They are commonly contrasted with the developed countries, or more developed countries.
The maximum population 1 of a territory, sometimes called its carrying capacity 1, is generally understood in an absolute sense to mean the largest number of persons that could be sustained under specified conditions; but is sometimes used to denote the largest number that could be supported at an assumed standard of living. Conversely, the minimum population 2 is generally taken to be the smallest number of persons in an area which is consistent with group survival 3.
The term population pressure 1 is linked to concepts relating the size of the population and the resources (901-1) available. To say that this pressure is strong or weak in a certain area is to suggest that the population of the area is near or far from the maximum consistent with the resources which are available. According to Malthusian population theory 2, so called after its originator, Thomas Malthus, there will inevitably be pressure of population on the means of subsistence 3. Any change in the volume of available means of subsistence would generate population growth (701-1) until population equilibrium 4 would again be attained when the level of living had reached a subsistence level 5, i.e., a level just sufficient to maintain life. The equilibrium would be maintained by the elimination of any surplus population 10★ either through positive checks 6, sometimes known as Malthusian checks 6 (famine, pestilence and war), or through the preventive check 7 of moral restraint 8 consisting of postponement of marriage 9, coupled with abstinence from sexual relations before marriage.
- 6. and 7. The terms positive check and preventive check in English are generally used only with reference to the doctrines of Malthus.
Although the term Malthusianism 1 originally refers to the theories of Malthus, it is often used today to denote the doctrine that a check in the rate of population growth is desirable. Neo-Malthusianism 2, whilst accepting the desirability of checking population growth, advocates that such restriction should be achieved through the use of birth control methods (627-3).
- 1. Malthusianism, n. - Malthusian, adj.: conforming to the doctrines of Malthus. The terms are sometimes used mistakenly to refer to the advocacy of family planning programs to solve economic problems.
The process of transition from a situation in which both fertility and mortality were relatively high to one in which they are relatively low which has been observed in many countries, is called the demographic transition 1 or population transition 1. In the process of moving from a pre-transitional stage 2 to a post-transitional stage 3, there is typically a lag between the declines of mortality and fertility, so that a stage of transitional growth 4 of population results. Economists have studied changes in productivity 5, i.e., production per member of the labor force, or per head of the population, associated with this transitional period.
- 1. Sometimes called the vital revolution. A further distinction is made between the fertility transition and the mortality transition. The theory of the demographic transition associates historical changes in vital rates with socio-economic transformations attending the process of industrialization and urbanization.
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