History of Human Populations: Volumes I-III by P. M. G. Harris

 

This collection provides full-text, downloadable access to the posthumously available third volume of P. M. G. Harris's, History of Human Populations.

This is the final part of a three-volume reexamination of the history of human populations. Scores of studies conducted since the middle of the past century have generated a rich and challenging, at times controversial, literature of historical demography. Inquiries, though most plentiful and detailed for western societies from the 1700s forward, have covered large and small, familiar and more exotic, populations from widely varying societies on all continents beginning with calculations for Rome and China in the first decades of the contemporary era and estimates for prehistoric peoples.

The contributions of these many diverse investigations are better understood and related to each other when they are examined with an awareness of how much all demographic change follows just a few mathematically connected paths which incorporate, are based upon, positive or negative acceleration at a single fixed rate.

The new mode of analysis that this study introduces builds upon four well-known path- breaking contributions to demographic understanding: In 1751, the polymath politician Benjamin Franklin noted that the burgeoning, relatively unfettered population of the British North American colonies had for some time been growing at a continuous rate of roughly 3 percent, or doubling about every 23 years. He inferred that this was the maximum pace for unrestrained expansion with the most favorable conditions--in contrast to the marked hardships of Old World life. In 1760, the international mathematician Leonhard Euler laid the foundations for modern stable population theory by demonstrating how, if birth and death rates remain constant, age structures and growth (or decline) in size will eventually converge to become log- linear. In the 1820s, the British actuary Benjamin Gompertz employed the generic kind of constant exponential acceleration that permeates the trends shapes proposed in this study to depict the increasing toll of mortality with age upon the population of England--without recognizing that the one standard .03 exponential rate applies to populations in general. In 1972, the modern demographer Ansley x Coale demonstrated how the significant root of the renewal equation for populations had a frequency somewhat under 25 years. This study combines these path-breaking insights to create a fruitful new way to analyze populations.

Find the prior volumes of this work in a library:

The history of human populations. Volume I, Forms of growth and decline: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/62338920

The history of human populations. Volume II, Migration, urbanization, and structural change: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/60576996

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