Demographic Problems: Controversy over Population Control

Demographic Problems: Controversy over Population Control

Demographic Problems: Controversy over Population Control

Demographic Problems: Controversy over Population Control

Excerpt

If it is true that, as the distinguished demographer Alfred J. Lotka said, the preface is written last, placed first, and read least, this is the one place where an author should be able to say whatever he pleases, secure in the knowledge that no one will find out. Still, it seems appropriate to state that this book is designed as a sociological analysis of selected population trends, problems, and controversies in the contemporary world and especially in the United States.

Since demography cross-cuts departmental segregation, I have attempted to place population phenomena in context by spelling out interconnections with related subjects to achieve what Kenneth Burke praised as "perspective by incongruity." Bibliographic references have two purposes: assistance to readers who want to learn more, and acknowledgement of help received. I have tried to emulate Odysseus by steering a safe course between the rock of Auguste Comte's cerebral hygiene (refraining from reading the works of others) and the whirlpool of Tom Lehrer's Lobachevsky (advice to aspiring scholars: plagiarize), while also avoiding too much paraphrase and periphrase.

Population facts can be examined fully only by statistical analysis, although reporting and interpreting may be done through prose and diagrams. Since numbers and tables tend to inspire sensations of ineptitude in many otherwise reasonable people, these necessary means of presentation are held to a minimum.

This book could never have been written without the knowledge created and disseminated by several hundred demographic researchers throughout the world, most of whom were industriously collecting and analyzing population information years before population problems were "discovered" by popular writers. Scholars at universities are acknowledged in footnotes, but others contributed anonymously through research organizations. Especially deserving of thanks are persons affiliated with the United Nations Population Branch, the United States Bureau of the Census and the National Center for Health Statistics, the nongovernmental Population Reference Bureau in Washington, and the Population Council in New York City.

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