Population in Its Human Aspects

Population in Its Human Aspects

Population in Its Human Aspects

Population in Its Human Aspects

Excerpt

Like all continuous scientific investigations, studies about the people of the world differ in about as many ways as individual human beings. Today few students would agree with the importance that Cousin gives to the geography of population. As a rule, they regard population as a prime factor in social analysis. Their objective, however, is plural: to relate population to other prime factors and to fathom the numerous types of changing relations within a human population. In brief, population varies under the pressure of external conditions and it also changes under pressures within its own composition.

This point of view can be traced back in time to many observers who have suggested the interrelations between quantity and quality of people. Then as now, gloomy predictions and urgent demands have stressed nearly every cause of social disorder that is contrary to the welfare of the human species, and there is a long history of explanations or solutions. All these observations, panaceas, or moral judgments are now correlated in the bio-social study called demography.

The human aspect of population is one of the many possible approaches to the study of people, and that is the viewpoint adopted in this book. Its limits are human correlates, in addition to the arithmetic of population, and interpretations thereof. There is no pretense that most of the generalizations about population are anything more than the consensus of competent authorities--agreements, however, that have an extensive background in research. Because all studies about the facts of life contain many fictions, mysteries, paradoxes, and questions that cannot be answered, this volume has been prepared in the spirit of the Biblical recommendation that introduces the last chapter: "Get wisdom but also try to get understanding."

The Table of Contents partly indicates our point of view and system. In the classification of sections--Growth, Distribution, Composition, Balance, Quality, and Perspectives--each series of chapters is limited and is used to introduce the next section. The several introductions attempt to describe and clarify this interpretation and to suggest the needs and prospects of future studies.

No handicaps in the interpretation of the social studies are more frequent or exasperating than changing statistics in population reports and the impatience of the reader for the latest census or registration. Therefore, it is important to point out that exactness in statistics is seldom of absolute importance. Instead of the never-ceasing demand for the latest figures, the really significant need is for homogeneity in both census and registration figures. Up to the present, at least, these figures have been "seriously nonhomogeneous," (meaning not comparable) and as a result analysis and in-

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