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The Population Ahead

The Population Ahead

edited by Roy G. Francis
Copyright Date: 1958
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 172
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  • Book Info
    The Population Ahead
    Book Description:

    This volume brings together the thinking and viewpoints of specialists from various pertinent fields for a discussion of factors bearing on the quality of future populations of the world. The discussions center around three fundamental questions: Is the human population growing at a rate which threatens the standards of living to which most of tits individuals aspire? Is the genetic composition of the population tending in directions which are harmful to the common good? What can and should be done, if the answer to either of the foregoing questions is yes? The chapters, by nine different contributors, are based on the papers given at a conference on population problems held at the University of Minnesota in 1957. In addition, discussion and comments by six other participants in the conference are included.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-6247-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Foreword
    (pp. v-viii)
    Julius M. Nolte

    During the last decade many faculty members of the University of Minnesota have interested themselves deeply in the study of human population, not only as part of the substance of the day-to-day inquiries common to academicians but also as an effort to provide for a generation perplexed about its future the most comprehensive classification of social-science subjects or “problems” under which that future may be considered. The interest of these faculty members, reinforced by a kindred interest among members of the Human Genetics League, led in 1948 to the first population conference, specifically titled “Symposium on Populations and Relationships between...

  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. The Desegregation of Ideas
    (pp. 3-11)

    Modern man, collectively, knows more than he thinks he does. Man, the individual, shares the collective knowledge of mankind; but no individual shares it all, and, however curious he may be, if he submits to a formal learning process he soon finds it easier to be well versed in comparatively little than to try to embrace a comprehensive universalism. Since the path to learning is usually the path to specialization, it is the one most men follow. The expert, therefore, is difficult to replace — either in a conversation or in the preliminaries to effective action. In our modern civilization,...

  5. A Generation of Demographic Change
    (pp. 12-26)

    It is desirable to consider first the growth of the total population of the world during the last generation, or roughly the last thirty years, and to compare it with that of the preceding generation. During the last thirty years, the world population has been growing by about 27 million per year. During the preceding thirty years it was growing by about half as large an amount — 14 million per year. The rate of increase has not risen so rapidly, however. During the last thirty years it has been about 12 per thousand per year, compared with about 8...

  6. Minimum Subsistence
    (pp. 27-39)

    While “minimum subsistence” is an important subject, and appropriate for a symposium on population, I hope I shall make it clear that “minimum” is only a qualitative descriptive term and that there is an unbroken continuum from subsistence at a level that produces death from starvation in a month or two to the super-luxus consumption level that also produces death but requires years to do so.

    What we really want to know, I think, is what are the relationships between the level of subsistence and such matters as health, strength, reproduction, economic productivity, and political stability. These questions may be...

  7. Optimum Rates of Population Growth
    (pp. 40-51)

    Few men, no matter how old, ever give up seeking their ideal of feminine beauty. They also seek other ideals, such as an ideal world, or the ideal way of life. But we demographers very properly seek the ideal size or quality of population. Since most of us are apparently more concerned with size than quality, we will start with the concept of size.

    It would be nice to know how many people there should be in an ideal world, an ideal continent, or an ideal community. Unfortunately there are great difficulties, as indeed there are with feminine beauty, in...

  8. The Man-Land Ratio
    (pp. 52-63)

    The conceptman-land ratiois used in measuring the relations between a human group and its habitat. This ratio, taken by itself, is an exact and objective statement. However, it is frequently used as a means to determine the degree of population pressure. Is India overpopulated, is Thailand underpopulated, has Sweden perhaps achieved its optimum density? Obviously, answers to these questions must take into account man’s activity in his physical environment. Formerly thinkers trustingly conceived of mankind and the earth as forming a harmonious balance, ordained by the Creator. But in European thought of the last century and a half...

  9. The Equilibrium Population
    (pp. 64-86)

    I presume that the role of the biologist in this symposium is to erect a tower of ivory, or of some similar, easily carvable white substance, from which to gain perspective over the madding crowd. From this ivory, or soapen, pinnacle we can see at once that there is no such thing as a population problem; there is only population. All species are populations, by definition, and if there were no population there would be no problem — the term is therefore superfluous. Man’s objective is that of all species: to maintain the population, i.e. to exist. Our old friend...

  10. The Genetic Future of Man
    (pp. 87-97)

    In common with all other living species, both plant and animal, man is subject to the laws of heredity and to the influence of his environment. Modern man is the result of slow evolutionary development during the past million years, based upon variation, natural selection, and survival of the fittest. Man is still a variable species and has potential capacities for further development or for regression and decay. To a great extent modern man has so controlled his environment that the ancient types of natural selection now play little part in survival and reproduction. But he has not controlled his...

  11. Cultural Aspects of the Population Problem
    (pp. 98-107)

    It is impossible to consider the various problems of population, however much they may at base reside in biology, without reference to culture. Man differs from other forms of animal life in having created, outside of the biological context, that series of common understandings — those fundamental definitions of himself — which are ringed about by tradition and established custom and which are called culture.

    The human being cannot be regarded as a creature of instinct; his behavior is learned. This being so, the various societies of men have fashioned various systems of value and conceptual being which come to...

  12. Variations on a Theme by Malthus
    (pp. 108-124)

    The Malthusian theory of population envisaged man as being driven to the subsistence level by the constant pressure of population on the earth’s limited food supply. Man’s propensity to procreate would lead to a recurring situation in which there were more mouths to feed than could be fed, and famine and pestilence would be the means by which the population would be held within the limits of the available food supply. Mortality and food prices would both be high.

    The history of the world economy since Malthus’ day has belied his vision in each respect. The number of people in...

  13. Commentary
    (pp. 125-152)
    Warren S. Thompson

    Rather than disturb the progressive development of the major themes in this volume, the several discussions that followed the presentation of the papers at the symposium have been gathered into one section. Not all the discussants prepared their comments in a formal sense. Those who did will find their statements reproduced in full in the context of this chapter. The discussions that were not formally written were preserved on tape. The editor listened to these recordings several times and then attempted to report the gist of each of the sessions with as much of the flavor as possible. Since some...

  14. Index
    (pp. 153-160)