Malthusian Theory of Population

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Definition: Demography is the study of the size, growth, and age and geographical distribution of human populations, and births, deaths, marriages, and migrations How data are collected
Information about population is collected in two main ways: by enumeration at a point of time, and by recording events as they occur over a period. Censuses and social surveys are examples of the first method, and provide ‘stock’ data (see §2.5), while birth registrations and migration records (‘flow’ data) are examples of the second. The information may purport to be complete or it may take the form of a sample. The aim of this chapter is to describe the chief features of the statistics so collected and to indicate the limitations the demographer may need to bear in mind in attempting to interpret the meaning of the published information. In this connexion it is important to consider the relationship the data bear to the biological events in human existence which are the basic objects of study. Although these events are essentially the ‘facts of life’ with which people generally are familiar, what the student of population needs is a precise knowledge of how they are defined for practical purposes and their consequent place in demographic analysis. Reliance on ‘common sense’ may not be enough to prevent serious misinterpretation of the results of statistical studies. While it is obvious what a ‘birth’ is, the demographer requires to know whether recorded births include or exclude still-births and how still-births are defined. Are the births those which occurred in a given period, or those which were registered during that period? If the latter, what are the rules concerning registration and what delays can occur before registration is effected? Are all births notified to the authorities, or do some escape recording? Such matters can be important when analysing changes in experience, or in measuring differences between populations – more particularly in international comparisons. Quality

The purpose of this chapter is to give some practical illustrations of demographic data, showing how and in what form they are published and how their characteristics vary from time to time and from one country to another. Naturally, reference can be made only to some of the material collected in a few countries, most of it recent. An attempt is made, however, to give some idea of the range of variation, in quality, style and completeness of coverage, that can occur in population statistics between one area and another. As awareness of demographic problems increases, and more data are collected, this range is probably diminishing, and unreliable elements are slowly being rendered more trustworthy. Even where the basic aim is the same, however, the methods used for the collection of information vary because of the need to adapt them to local circumstances – political, legal or educational. Such circumstances may affect the way in which vital events are denned; they may also affect the accuracy of the statistics; if errors of interpretation are to be avoided, close attention must be devoted to both aspects. World census coverage

Much valuable work has been carried out by the Population Division of the UN Organization in assembling information from all over the world on population size and characteristics. In this way, estimates for some 250 countries have been brought together. The results are shown in the UN Demographic Year Book, grouped into the six continental areas of Africa, America, Asia, Europe, Oceania and the USSR. Frontmatter:

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pp. i-vi
Contents:
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pp. vii-viii
List of illustrations:
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pp. ix-x
Fundamentals:
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pp.
1 - Introduction:
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pp. 1-8
2 - Demographic analysis: some basic concepts:
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pp. 9-19
3 - The nature of demographic data:
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pp. 20-45
4 - Demographic statistics in practice:
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pp. 46-71
Population movements:
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