Monday, September 8, 2014

Population ‘tipping point’ was about 2,000 years ago

kid in silhouette walks toward city 

"The increasingly complex and decentralized economic and political entities that were built up around the world from the beginning of the Common Era to 1,500 CE created enough opportunities for individuals, states, and massive powers like England, France, and China to take advantage of the potential for economies of scale," 

 The human population explosion, usually said to stem from industrialization and public health in the 18th and 19th centuries, is actually the result of changes as far back as 2,000 years ago, according to new research.

“The industrial revolution and public health improvements were proximate reasons that more people lived longer,” says Aaron Stutz, an associate professor of anthropology at Emory University. “If you dig further in the past, however, the data suggest that a critical threshold of political and economic organization set the stage 1,500 to 2,000 years ago, around the start of the Common Era.

“The resulting political-economic balance was the tipping point for economies of scale: It created a range of opportunities enabling more people to get resources, form successful families, and generate enough capital to transfer to the next generation.”

1 billion and beyond

Population dynamics have been a hot topic since 1798, when English scholar Thomas Robert Malthus published his controversial essay that population booms in times of plenty will inevitably be checked by famine and disease.

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