Malthusian mythologies and Chinese realities: from 200 million to 1.2 billion Chinese, 1700-2000.

Lee JZ; Wang F
In: International Population Conference/Congres International de la Population: Beijing, 1997, Volume 1. Liege, Belgium, International Union for the Scientific Study of Population [IUSSP], Commitee on Economic Demography, 1997. 109-48.

The distinctive features of the population growth that occurred in China from 1700 to the present are analyzed in this paper. "The paper is divided into four sections. In section one, we first use three different indices--life expectancy, per capita food production, and per capita food consumption--to show that population growth from 1700 to the present did not produce Malthus' anticipated mortality crisis or impending crisis. We then establish that China was able to avoid such famine due both to a process at the societal level, which we describe in section two, whereby population growth induced technological innovation and subsequent economic growth, and to a feedback loop at the individual level, which we describe in section three, whereby changing economic circumstances induced people to change their population behaviour and regulate their family size and composition. Finally we conclude in section four with a brief reassessment of the Malthusian model, and current Chinese success in and preoccupation with population control, in light of our findings on the Chinese demographic system." (EXCERPT)

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