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Two Cities One Life

Two Cities One Life: The Demography of Lu-Kang and Nijmegen, 1850-1945

Theo Engelen
Hsieh Ying-Hui
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Two Cities One Life
    Book Description:

    Historical processes are the result of the behavior of countless individual actors. In this book, therefore, the authors compare the demography of the Taiwanese town Lugang and the Dutch town Nijmegen using data on the lifes of thousands of their inhabitants. The period covered is approximately 1850 to 1945. First, the standard demographic rates on nuptiality, fertility and mortality are calculated to test the Malthusian predictions on a so called 'positive' and a 'preventive' demographic regime. Next, the authors try to disentangle the individual rationality behind aggregated measures in order to find out how the inhabitants of the two towns used the one life they had. Unaware of each others existence, the people living in Nijmegen and Lu-kang had more in common than one would expect given the huge cultural differences.Two cities, one life is the third volume in the series Life at the Extremes: The Demography of Europe and China, edited by Chuang Ying-chang (Academia Sinica, Taiwan), Theo Engelen (Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands), and Arthur P. Wolf (Stanford University, U.S.A.).

    eISBN: 978-90-485-2101-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
    (pp. 5-6)
    Theo Engelen and Hsieh Ying-Hui
  2. 1 Two cities, one life Introduction
    (pp. 9-24)

    The history of mankind is characterized by a constant struggle to feed an increasing number of human beings. As a result, population growth has been very slow until well into the 19th century. Moderate levels of labor and soil productivity simply did not allow an increase comparable to that begun after the agricultural and industrial revolutions. The historically unknown growth of population and of the standard of living since then, however, was mainly limited to the western part of the world. For many regions in Asia and Africa the threat of hunger and starvation have remained a living reality until...

  3. 2 East is east and west is west? Population checks in Europe and China
    (pp. 25-52)

    Thomas Malthus starts hisEssay on the Principle of Population¹⁵ with two indisputable facts. “First, That food is necessary to the existence of man. Secondly, That the passion between the sexes is necessary and will remain nearly in its present state.” The famous British vicar is realistic in assessing the consequences of these observations for the human species. Population will grow faster than the production of resources to feed it. More precisely, Malthus attributes to population the capacity to grow in a geometrical way, whereas food production only increases arithmetically. The combination of the two observations spells disaster. What mankind...

  4. 3 Nuptiality One concept, two realities
    (pp. 53-80)

    For a demographer the basic features of marriage are essentially the same in every non-polygamous society. A man and a woman form a new union in which the man has exclusive sexual rights to the woman, and, thus, are allowed to have offspring. Most authors focus on these characteristics. From this starting point they deal with variables like age at marriage, proportion married according to sex, and number of children born to the couple. This way of handling nuptiality offers the opportunity to compare marriage cross-culturally and over time. Nonetheless we have to be aware of the simplification of reality...

  5. 4 Illegitimate births and bridal pregnancy Deviations from societal rules
    (pp. 81-96)

    Our findings in the previous chapter are in line with the predictions made earlier. Marriage restriction was still very active in 19th century Nijmegen, while the opposite was true in colonial Lugang. As a consequence, Nijmegen was populated by a large number of men and women who were not or not yet married. They thus constituted a potential source for illegitimacy and bridal pregnancy. Given the early age at marriage in Lugang, especially for women, the probability of being pregnant at marriage here seems relatively small. We will analyze the extramarital sexual activity in both cities by looking at bridal...

  6. 5 Infant mortality ‘The Massacre of the Innocents’
    (pp. 97-124)

    In the previous chapter we established that women in Lugang married more than ten years earlier than Nijmegen women. In theory – and following Malthus’ implicit prediction that fertility is only regulated through marriage - this should result in a higher final parity. Before assessing whether or not this is manifested in the actual fertility, we first focus on another striking characteristic of pre-industrial demography, namely infant mortality. By modern standards the chances of survival for newly born children in pre-modern societies were astonishingly low. Almost one quarter of infants did not reach their first birthday, and mortality remained high in...

  7. 6 Fertility Malthusian reality or proactive behavior?
    (pp. 125-158)

    In the Malthusian perception of reproduction the only restriction on the number of births was the number of women that entered matrimony and the age at which they took this step. For the world Malthus lived in this was an adequate description. Given the near absence of methods and appliances for birth control, fertility in the late 18th and early 19th centuries was indeed determined primarily by the length of time fecund women were at risk of conceiving: that is, the years between approximately 15 and 50 lived as a married woman. The result was, in Louis Henry’s terminology, ‘natural’...

  8. 7 Conclusion and discussion
    (pp. 159-166)

    Even today we expect few inhabitants of the Dutch city of Nijmegen to be familiar with the existence of a town in Taiwan. The same observation, but the other way around, goes for the people living in contemporary Lugang. In the period we study here, the scope of our actors was even more limited. Why then is it that this book brings together the two populations? What can we gain by comparing the demography of Lugang and Nijmegen? The title of this book already suggests that our main focus was the simple fact that whatever the social, economic, and cultural...