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Description - Population and Nutrition by Massimo Livi Bacci

From the time of Malthus, the insufficient supply of food resources has been considered the main constraint of population growth and the main factor in the high mortality prevailing in pre-industrial times. In this essay, the mechanisms of biological, social and cultural nature linking subsistence, mortality and population and determining its short and long term cycles are discussed. The author's analysis examines the existing evidence from the century of the Great Plague to the industrial revolution, interpreting the scanty quantitative information concerning caloric budgets and food supply, prices and wages, changes in body height and epidemiological history, demographic behaviours of the rich and of the poor. The emerging picture sheds doubts on the existence of a long term interrelation between subsistence of nutritional levels and mortality, showing that the level of the latter was determined more by the epidemiological cycles than by the nutritional level of the population. The permanent potential conflict between food supply and population growth was also mediated by the biological adaptability of the human species to nutritional stress. In the short term, the synergy between famine and epidemic infections in determining recurrent mortality crises is evident, but their impact starts declining in frequency and intensity in the eighteenth century.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780521368711
ISBN-10: 0521368715
Format: Paperback
(228mm x 152mm x 10mm)
Pages: 168
Imprint: Cambridge University Press
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publish Date: 31-Jan-1991
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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