Demographers’ Involvement in Twentieth-Century Population Policy: Continuity or Discontinuity?

Demographers’ Involvement in Twentieth-Century Population Policy: Continuity or Discontinuity? The second half of the twentieth century witnessed the development of a crusading spirit and massive technical aid aimed at reducing fertility levels and rates of population growth in developing countries, and also the involvement of demographers in these events. The demographers at Princeton University’s Office of Population Research, Frank Notestein and his colleagues, have been singled out by recent authors as playing a unique role in bringing about these changes, and they have been criticized for encouraging demographers to become involved, so eroding their scientific objectivity. This paper examines the development of relevant population thought and theory in the English-language literature over the first half of the twentieth century. It concludes that in the circumstances of the second half of the twentieth century, it was inevitable that developed countries and their demographers would become involved in controlling fertility levels in developing countries. The OPR story should be seen largely in terms of how the world’s leading demographic center and its demographic transition theory were swept along by global changes. As those developments started, attitudes to population change in densely settled Asia became Malthusian, even as population growth accompanied by mortality decline in Asia demonstrated that, at least in the short term, the positive checks were disappearing. Population Research and Policy Review Springer Journals

Demographers’ Involvement in Twentieth-Century Population Policy: Continuity or Discontinuity?

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Kluwer Academic Publishers
Copyright © 2005 by Springer
Geography; Economic Policy; Population Economics; Demography
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