World Population: Past Growth and Present Trends

World Population: Past Growth and Present Trends

World Population: Past Growth and Present Trends

World Population: Past Growth and Present Trends

Excerpt

Towards the end of last year I was invited by the Royal Institute of International Affairs to assist with the preparations for an international conference on peaceful change. When I learnt that the Institute were contemplating a study of the problems of population and migration as part of their contribution to the conference, I informed them that I had almost completed a book on these subjects and described its scope. The Council of the Institute considered that it was the kind of study which they had in mind and suggested that the book should be published under their auspices. To this I gladly agreed. It seems desirable, however, that the responsibility for the book should be made plain. It was not commissioned by the Institute, nor are its scope or contents in any way different from what they would have been if it had not appeared under their auspices. The book was designed to fill a gap in population literature. Many valuable studies of population problems have recently appeared, but there is no general survey of the world situation. Such a survey might take the form of an abstract of the position in the various continents and countries, or it might treat the different problems of population one by one. But the danger of surveys planned in such ways is that the trees might hide the wood. In order to avoid this danger and to give the study coherence, an historical approach to the problems of the day has been made in this book. Beginning with such knowledge as we have of world population three hundred years ago, the book attempts to discuss the causes and consequences of the immense expansion in numbers which has taken place since that time and to indicate the problems which arise from the position as it is now. It hardly needs to be said that only the most important matters can be mentioned in a work of this length. The book is merely a brief introduction to a subject of enormous scope and complexity.

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