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Students' Papers : Demographic History



DEMOGRAPHIC HISTORY

I.) Definition : Demography is the study of population.
In such a research, one may observe the overall population data, trends such as decline in birth rate, mortality rate, infant mortality rate, rise in literacy rate, average life expectation; immigration, emigration, urbanization, wars, pandemics, famine.
Click here for a sample page on WHKMLA : http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/lowcountries/beldemography.html

II.) Sources
Statistical sources : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics [G]; Statesman's Yearbook 1878-2006 [G]; national statistical yearbooks
Population Statistics, by J. Lahmeyer (www.populstat.info)
Statistical databases do not reach back further than 1750, in many cases not further than 1850. For earlier periods, one has to compile pieces of evidence from a diverse range of sources.
See also World Cultures Encyclopedia : Europe; has articles on Roma (Gypsies) by country

III.) How to read historical statistical data
B.R. Mitchell (IHS Europe p.3) gives the following population data for Czechoslovakia : 1910 13.5 million, 1921 13.6 million, 1930 14.7 million, 1946/47 12.1 million, 1950 12.3 million. Problem : Czechoslovakia, as a state, did not exist in 1910. Statisticians tend, when creating databases, to begin with modern borders and extend such lines further into history by adding up the populations of areas which later were to form the area they study.
In the case of Czechoslvakia it is obvious that the data for 1910 were established that way. If one would have the population data for Germany for 1871-1937, published in 1938, one has to ask : do the data for 1871-1919 assume the borders of 1919 (which meant the populations of Alsace-Lorraine, Northern Schleswig, West Prussia, Danzig, Posen, Eastern Upper Silesia, areas Germany lost after World War I, would NOT be included in those data, although these areas, during that time, formed part of Germany), or if they reflect the political borders at any given time (thus showing a drastic decline from 1919 to 1920).
Nomadic or non-sedentary population elements are notoriously difficult to study, as they may have eluded statistical surveys, or been counted several times, at various locations.

IV.) Categories
For example : In statistical surveys of the late 19th and early 20th century, citizens may have been asked for their religion - Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Jewish, with 'non-religious' as an option. Persons who had been born into a Jewish family, but converted to Christianity would, in such surveys, appear as Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican ..
Nazi Germany in 1935 passed the infamous Nuremberg Laws, defining Jews not by their actively professed religion, but by their ancestry. Statistical data compiled in the Nazi years would not be compatible with those of earlier years.
The example shows that before data for several years can be compared, it has to be checked if the comparison makes sense, or if one is in danger of comparing apples with oranges.

V.) Periodization
The object of this exercise is to establish a periodization for the region you chose, with emphasis on demographic development. Try do place sufficient emphasis on the various periods in question, as far as the sources permit.


HISTORY OF URBANIZATION

Students have to describe the trend from an agriculture (village-centered) to an industrial (city-centered) society, with urban centers being the focus of observation.
Students should be aware that the term 'city' at various stages of history can be applied rather differently. In Europe, 'city' meant a settlement had/has the status of a city. Occasionally, places acquired that status without providing much of an economic justification; there are "cities" in Germany with a population of about 500. They are cities because they acquired that status by privilege in the 13th century. On the other hand, during the period of rapid industrialization in the late 19th / early 20th century, boomtowns of 50,000 or 100,000 inhabitants were denied, by state administration, the status of city for quite some time.

When observing data rows of population numbers of city A (check B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics [G] or www.populstat.info), students should be aware that in years of financial crisis cities tended to grow by annexing suburbs (the merger meant that less personnel was necessary to administrate the combined entity). Population growth by annexation of suburbs should not be confused with an absolute population growth.

Urbanization took place in a wider context, was/is affected by economic, political etc. history.

Periodization : The object of this exercise is to establish a periodization for the region you chose, with emphasis on demographic development. Try do place sufficient emphasis on the various periods in question, as far as the sources permit.

         Jan. 2nd 2008          Alexander Ganse