Date: Tue Jun 03 2003 - 17:19:27 EDT
Quoting gerald_a_levy <gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM>: > Re Paul C's post dated Friday, May 30: > > 1. Demographic transition or conversion is a well attested empirical > phenomenon. What contrary instances can you come up with. > > The issue isn't whether there are observed empirical trends, but rather > how we interpret those trends and whether we can expect those trends > to be continued into the future and generalized from an essentially > European experience to the rest of the world. > > There are a number of problems with demographic transition > theory, first advanced by Frank Notestein in 1945: > > a) It is Eurocentric to the extent that it postulates that population > trends in the future in the rest of the world will parallel those that > occurred in the 19th Century in Europe. > That is a fair a-priori criticism, but I though that recent trends indicated that where contraception and educational opportunities were available for women in other continents, the same kind of fertility decline is occuring. > b) unless we comprehend the reasons for prior demographic > trends we can not legitimately make any inferences about whether > those trends will continue into the future. Your postulate about > what can be expected to happen re population in the next 50 > years seems particularly problematic, imo, given the long time > horizon and the amount of uncertainties associated with population > variables. > > c) Contrary to Notestein's theory, there isn't clear-cut cross-cultural > evidence that rising income levels directly cause demographic > decline. Indeed, the spread of medical knowledge and treatment > for the working classes -- which contributes to declining mortality rates, > > and is a contrary tendency that can be expected to _increase_ population > -- _is_ associated with rising income levels. It should also be noted, > in the advanced capitalist nations, that while there has been a long- > term decrease in children/family, life expectancy has increased > significantly which again exerts a counter pressure towards population > increase. Thid definitely causes an initial increase in population, but then declining fertility offsets it. > > > 2. My explanation of it is certainly not complete, but all of the features > that I mention are common place attributes of capitalist development. > What does it mean to say that they are not *necessary* consequences, > other than that we have not yet come up with an understanding of > the causal process generating them. This reflects our ignorance > more than anything else. > > Without an understanding of the causal processes, though, we can not > come to the conclusion that you have made about what is likely to occur > with population over the next 50 years. Until that is comprehended any > supposition of the future relation between projected demographic change > and the organic composition of capital becomes highly problematic and > contingent. > That is a fair point, but again, the impression I had was that the demographic transition was occuring elsewhere.
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