Herbert Spencer: the unrecognized father of the theory of demographic transition

  • Anatoly Vishnevsky National Research University Higher School of Economics
Ключевые слова: Spencer, demographic transition, mortality, fertility, ability to maintain life, ability to multiply, antagonism of reproduction and individualization, law of maintenance of races, equilibrium, causes of fertility decline, pro-natalist policy


It is believed that the central idea of the theory of the demographic transition from an equilibrium of high to an equilibrium of low mortality and fertility was formed and became generally recognized in the middle of the twentieth century. The article shows that this idea was developed by Herbert Spencer a hundred years before, although modern demographic transition theorists never refer to him as their predecessor. The main task of the article is to bring Spencer's arguments to the current debate about the present and the future of fertility, based on the premise that these arguments not only are not outdated, but are even today largely ahead of their time. The article does not deny Spencer's misconceptions about the mechanism of fertility decline in human society, but as to the causes of this decline, the higher level of generalization inherent in Spencer's scientific worldview predetermined an understanding of these causes deeper than that developed by modern theoretical demographers.


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Как цитировать
VishnevskyA. (2019). Herbert Spencer: the unrecognized father of the theory of demographic transition. Демографическое обозрение, 5(5), 4-24. https://doi.org/10.17323/demreview.v5i5.10176
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