THE HUMAN TIDE by Paul Morland


How Population Shaped the Modern World
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The world is changing, dramatically and in large part because of shifts in population.

University of London demographer Morland (Demographic Engineering: Population Strategies in Ethnic Conflict, 2014) considers population dynamics as a driving force in historical change—not just at the macro level, but in the lives of individuals. As he notes, only a few generations have passed since 1-in-6 British children died before their first birthdays, whereas “today, just over a century later, only one child in three hundred born in England does not reach the age of one.” At the same time, sub-Saharan African nations whose birth rates had once leveled off have grown in population but not in economic opportunity, propelling a wave of migrants northward to a Europe whose Indigenous populations have been steadily shrinking—in Italy, for example, by a projected 20 percent by the end of the century. This reiterates a historical trend in which exploding European populations led to migrations to the Americas and Australia, and even if European and European-descended—and especially British—peoples remain politically and economically more powerful than the rest of the world, “they have significantly retreated as an ethnic group within their own states.” Other nations have experienced patterns of growth and decline: Japan, for instance, whose population is rapidly falling, and Russia, which had a comparatively huge population in late czarist times but became the first state in the world to legalize abortion in the Soviet era—only to retract it in 1935, when “Stalin declared ‘man the most precious resource.’ ” Today, Putin’s Russia faces a decline in ethnic Russians. Demography is not necessarily destiny, but the trends Morland identifies are suggestive of broad political changes to come, including the prospect that a grayer world may also mean a greener one: “Where human population starts to decline, from Japan to Bulgaria, nature moves fast into the void.”

Useful for students of geopolitics, international economics, and demography alike.

Pub Date: March 5th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-5417-8836-7
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2019


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