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Lecture 7 - Demographic Transition in Europe; Mortality Decline

Lecture 7 - Demographic Transition in Europe; Mortality Decline

This video was recorded at MCDB 150 - Global Problems of Population Growth. European populations grew only slowly during the period 1200-1700; factors include disease and wars. Human feces and rotting animal remains were not sequestered and often contaminated drinking water. Cities were so filthy that more people died in them than were born. About a third of children died in infancy, many from abandonment and lack of care during wet-nursing. Children that survived were subjected to harsh discipline to control their tendency to sin. Ineffective and even harmful treatments, like blood-letting, were all that medicine could offer. Starting with Newton's Principia (1687) and the Enlightenment (eighteenth century), scientific attitudes began replacing religious ones: the biological and physical world became objects of study. Sanitation, hygiene and public health improved. Inoculation and vaccination were developed. The Industrial Revolution began. As death rates fell, population rose. While most believe that an increasing population is good, Malthus worries that population can grow faster than the food supply, trapping people in subsistence misery. Reading assignment: Langer, William. "Checks on Population Growth: 1750-1850." Scientific American (February 1972), pp. 92-99 Langer, William. "Europe's Initial Population Explosion." Harvard Today (Spring 1964), pp. 2-10 Livi-Bacci, Massimo. A Concise History of World Population: An Introduction to Population Processes, pp. 100-101 and 104-115 Resources: Notes - Lecture 7 [PDF]


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