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03 - World Population & Demographic Transition

03 - World Population & Demographic Transition -...

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SOCI 121: Population Problems SW ORLD P OPULATION G ROWTH AND D EMOGRAPHIC T RANSITION Objectives: Discuss world population growth and demographic transition model Class Notes: A Brief History of Population Growth before the Demographic Transition Human beings have been around for at least 200,000 years, but for most of that time, their presence on earth was barely noticeable (see Figure 1) Figure 1 shows population growth throughout human history: Figure 1 o The earliest human societies were hunter-gatherer societies. Hunter-gatherers live a primitive existence marked by very slow population growth. Given the amount of space required by a hunting-gathering society, it is unlikely that the earth could support more than several million people. Eventually, people began to use the environment more intensively, leading to a more sedentary, agricultural way of life that has characterized most of human society for the past 10,000 years. This is known as the Agricultural Revolution . 1
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SOCI 121: Population Problems o The world population is estimated at about 4 million people on the eve of the Agricultural Revolution. The population began to grow more noticeably after the Agricultural Revolution. Between 8000 BC and 5000 BC about 372 people on average were being added to the world’s population each year. By 500 BC, as major civilizations were being established in China and Greece, the world was adding nearly 139,000 people each year. By 1 AD, there may have been more than 200 million people on the planet, increasing by more than 300,000 each year. Plagues and invasions produced some backslides in the rate of growth in subsequent times, but on the Eve of the Industrial Revolution in the middle of the eighteenth century (about 1750), the population of the world was approaching 1 billion people and was increasing by 2.6 million every year. o It is likely that the Industrial Revolution occurred in part because of this growth. o It is theorized that the Europe of 300 or 400 years ago was reaching the carrying capacity of its agricultural society, so Europeans first spread out looking for more room and then began to invent more intensive uses of their resources to meet the needs of a growing population. The Demographic Transition and Population Explosion During the twentieth century, something new began to take place in Europe and in a few other areas around the world. Population grew more quickly and more steadily. Total population more than tripled from around 1.7 billion in the beginning of the century to over 6 billion by the end of the century.
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