GENUS, LXVI (No. 2), 2010

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1 GENUS, LXVI (No. 2), 2010 WARREN C. ROBINSON Land, Labour and Population Growth: Theory, Policies and Case-Studies Collected Papers From Four Decades, AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Background and Context Part I. Surplus labor in traditional societies and how policy converts it to the development surplus a) Types of disguised rural unemployment (Oxford Economic Papers, 1969) b) The economics of work-sharing in peasant agriculture (Economic Development and Cultural Change, 1971) c) Agricultural surplus and population growth (Papers of IUSSP Congress, Manila, 1981) d) A generalization of the Boserup Model (Economic Development and Cultural Change, 1984) e) Disguised unemployment once again: East Pakistan, (American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 1969) Part II. Policy and other factor affecting Population Growth a) Population policy in early Victorian England (European Journal of population, 2002) b) Economic policy and population change in Thailand (World Development, 1978) c) Female autonomy and fertility (American Anthropologist, 1989) d) Economic development and population control (Journal of East Asian Affairs, 1983) e) Population control and development strategies Part III. Why the Transition Theory Still Proves Useful a) The development of modern population theory (American journal of Economics and Sociology, 1969) b) The Limits to Growth : a review ( Demography, 1973) c) Globalization, family structure and declining fertility (Review of Radical Political Economics, 2003) d) Demographic history and theory as guides to future population growth (Genus, 2004) e) Clash of Civilizations or demographic realignments? (Asian Population Studies, 2005) 129

2 Conclusions Reference This book, consisting of a collection of articles from the last four decades, explores the complex relationship between socio-economic development and demographic conditions. The focus is development economics, whose main purpose is identifying reasons for different stages of development in different parts of the world in order to improve living conditions in less developed countries. In other words the key question was why some countries are rich and others are poor?. There is a vast literature on this, with a common explanation being that there is a strong association between socio-economic underdevelopment, resource scarcity and rapid population growth. The notion of surplus soon emerged in the economic development debate. It is relevant in considering the possible link between these three elements and provides a conceptual underpinning for most of the book. Surplus is a broad concept and includes different interpretations and theoretical paradigms. However, in this context, one of the most important aspects is linked to savings. As the author asserts: Savings was, in effect, a kind of surplus over and above the substance requirements of the economy. Savings are needed to provide investments, which made economic improvements possible; population growth may reduce the investable surplus leading to an arrest in economic growth. Rapid population growth may lead to 1) a decrease of investments due to an increase in public expenditure on basic needs and 2) a reduction in fixed capital and land per worker. Together, these point to the need to reduce the rapid population growth in some parts of the world through appropriate programs and policies and the importance of understanding the complex interactions between mortality, fertility, and socio-economic development. Initial efforts to address the demographic conditions of less developed countries have focused on reducing mortality, mostly through the importation of new drugs and medical technologies. The success in lowering mortality achieved in many countries led to rapid population growth. Subsequent attempts to reduce fertility, which necessitate behavioral and societal changes, encountered much greater difficulties. The author asserts that efforts to affect population growth through policy could be shown to have a theoretical foundation in the existing major demographic paradigm transition theory. In other words, assuming the existence of continuous adjustments to achieve a balance between resources and population, he suggests the transition theory as the most suitable theoretical framework to understand population changes in relation to development issues. As the author says: the paper in this volume suggest strongly that there is a tendency for population, land and other resources to fall into a kind of equilibrium relationship given the underlying technology at both macro and micro levels. And further, that any disturbance 130

3 to this equilibrium sets in motion forces tending to restore a new balance. But, the sustainable equilibrium is not always a particularly desirable one. Therefore, as mentioned, papers in this book explore the linkage between levels of economic development, available resources and population growth, with particular regard to less developed countries. The main research question focuses on identifying the root causes of economic underdevelopment in order to in turn implement effective policy interventions. The book is divided into three parts, each with the aim of deepening one aspect of this complex framework of relationships: 1) the possible consequences of rapid population growth in terms of economic production; 2) the interaction between the stage of socioeconomic development and fertility levels; and 3) the theory of demographic transition as a general reference framework. The first section of the book examines the concept of surplus labour, particularly in agriculture, as an expression of excess workforce (due to rapid population growth) compared to the resources and fixed capital available. It also analyzes one of the main extents of surplus labour known as disguised unemployment. The latter term is used in development economics to indicate the absence of gain in terms of output derived from the use of the surplus labour due to population growth, given the limited resources and the lack of technological progress. The study highlights the existence of many kinds of disguised unemployment in relation to different underlying causes. For example, the inadequate level of output per worker may depend on the poor nutritional and health conditions of the workforce or on inadequate motivations and low aspirations. It can also depend on seasonal variability of employment in that sector. The argument pursued is that the different causes and conditions creating this phenomenon require targeted interventions. For example, the second paper in this section deals with work sharing as a possible solution in traditional agricultural settings in order to cope with the pressure of growing population density. Then, after a careful analysis of different types of existing surplus, an extension of the Esther Boserup model, exploring the connections between population growth, technologies, surplus and development, is proposed. Finally, in the fifth paper, the concepts and the theories discussed in the whole section are applied to the concrete case study of East Pakistan (Bangladesh) during , as it exemplifies the conditions mentioned above (such as rapid population growth, traditional agriculture etc). The second part of the book analyses the factors that influence fertility. As we know, strong population growth in developing countries is due to a rapid decrease in mortality which has not been accompanied by an equally rapid reduction in fertility. Hence there is a need to address fertility in order to rebalance population growth, since that in turn affects agricultural productivity and employment. In this section different types of interventions are reviewed. The first two articles analyze different approaches to address fertility decline. The first paper deals with attempts in England during the nineteenth cen- 131

4 tury to reduce population growth. The scholar rejects the idea that the fertility transition in Britain took place without any government interventions. He argues that the spread of Malthusian population principles led to a different perception of the cost of childbearing between the cultural and political elite. Despite the absence of a single homogeneous population policy, several measures were enacted, including the dismantling of family allowances of the Poor Laws and encouragement of emigration. Many of these policies were based on a system of disincentives and had a negative impact. They might also have stimulated an increase in abortions, infanticides and in the use of contraception, though it is not possible to prove it with any certainty. The second paper shows the indirect effects that economic policies have had on the reduction of fertility in Thailand. The introduction of a rice export tax there transferred both material and human capital from agriculture to industry, setting in motion a process of urbanization. Urbanization has important socio-cultural implications and promotes changes in behavior and attitudes, including those related to the desired family size. In the third paper, the role of female autonomy in reducing fertility is considered. While it is recognized that patriarchal and male-dominated societies contribute significantly to keeping fertility high, on the other hand, female autonomy (although important) is not in itself a sufficient condition to ensure fertility decline. Fertility is therefore the result of a complex interactions between different demographic, social, economic and cultural factors. As argued in the fourth article of this section, the proximate determinants model of fertility is of great relevance in understanding the fertility transition. At the end of this section (fifth paper) the scholar suggests that family planning can not be effective unless there is a certain degree of development in society. The primarily prerequisite for fertility decline is a widespread acceptance of its necessity, which occurs only after a certain stage of modernization has been reached. In this perspective the scholar divided less-developed countries with high fertility into three groups. The first group consists of countries that have already taken the path towards modernization and in which contraception has started to be accepted and practiced. There, family planning policies helped accelerate a drop in fertility. Countries in the second group have some form of modernization, though it is still not widespread. In these countries, efforts should be concentrated on reducing mortality (which is one of the most important reasons for large families preference) and on information and awareness campaigns. A third group is represented by countries at a very early stage of modernization, in which family planning interventions would be useless. In these contexts it is essential to provide basic infrastructure, including transport, health and education. In summary, the second section of this book points out that fertility, besides being determined by a set of proximate variables, is also influenced indirectly by a set of secondary variables such as social attitudes toward fertility and fam- 132

5 ily size, land-holding patterns, gender issues, the overall stage of socio-economic development etc. In order to affect fertility, population policies need to consider a complex context of interdependence. Finally, the third part of the volume suggests that the demographic transition theory is the most generally useful approach for understanding the past and also the future of population in relation to development change. In other words, the transition theory is the key to understanding and interpreting the continuous adjustment between population, resources, technologies, socio-economic conditions and political interventions. Given this perspective, the author concludes by asserting that new transitions and developments will take place in the future, giving further meaning to this underlying theoretical scheme. In the first paper of this section, in addition to providing a detailed description of the transition theory, the scholar reviews some of the most important population theories. The second paper deals with the theory of limits to growth, proposed by the Club of Rome as an alternative to the transition theory, emphasizing its limits in explaining the evolution of populations. The third article stresses the importance of globalization in bringing about relevant social and cultural changes, including those related to desired family size?. I this view, market-based capitalism tends to weaken the role of the traditional family in favor of more individualistic values of self-realization, leading to a general decrease in fertility. The fourth paper in this section points out how the western transition was not a isolated phenomenon. It was one of many transitions that have occurred since the ancient era. More will occur in the future. They are merely an expression of the continuous adjustments between population and resources and of the dynamic linkage between demographic conditions and development. Therefore, from this perspective, the transition theory is of increasing importance in understanding and interpreting the past, the present and the future of world population. This latter section of the book ends with a reflection on the existing conflicts in the world. The authors argue that most of these conflicts are the result of different demographic dynamics and unequal distribution of resources on the planet. Migration flows, although creating serious tensions, are a solution to the demographic and economic imbalances existing between different geographical areas. However, in the future, globalization, technology transfer and economic improvements in less developed countries will also be mitigating factors. This optimistic vision may require a very long time to actually be realized. The strength of this book lies in having combined several disciplines and in having simultaneously directed the research towards a policy-oriented purpose. Furthermore, this book provides us with a comprehensive overview of development issues within the framework of globalization. However, perhaps it might have been more appropriate to include these considerations in a more homogeneous framework. MARINA ZANNELLA 133

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