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Courr Unesco. 1974 Jul-Aug;27:66-8.

[From Confucius to Malthus].

[Article in French]



This is an abridged version of a chapter from The Determinants and Consequences of Population Trends published by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations in December, 1973. The history of demographic writings from Confucius to Malthus is summarized, including Greek, Roman, Hebrew, early Christian and Islamic writers. Confucius suggested a balance between land and agricultural peoples controlled by government-enforced migration. Plato, in Laws, conceived of an optimum population in a City-State, controlled by censure, immigration, and emigration. Aristotle, in Politics, wrote that resources and population should grow in harmony to avoid poverty, conflict, or the control measures of abortion and infant exposure. The Romans under Agustus legislated economic benefits to married and favored reproduction. The Hebrews similarly considered sterility a calamity and valued large populations for economic and military power. Early Christians usually considered reproduction as a moral question, forbiding polygamy, divorce, abortion, and infanticide, but they also glorified celibacy. Throughout medieval times the primary emphasis, both ecclesiastically and culturally, was on growth because of fear of d epopulation. An Islamic scholar of the fourteenth century, Ibn Khaldoun, favored a dense population because it would afford more efficient division of labor, higher living standards, and economic and military security. He believed that the population would respond to economic conditions. Since Malthus, demographic theory has divided into 2 trends: first, studies of rapid growth, and second, the relationships between population and economic and social development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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