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population geography

  The study of the ways in which spatial variations in the distribution, composition, migration and growth of population are related to the nature of places. A concern with spatial variation has been the geographer\'s distinctive contribution to population studies and comparison is frequently made with demographers, who are much more interested in patterns of birth, death and marriage per se, neglecting the influence of migration and spatial variations in general. Within the wider discipline of geography, population study has long ranked prominently, research at a variety of scales covering a very wide scope. Many university departments offer a separate course in population geography, and much relevant research and teaching is also subsumed under urban, social or historical geography. Yet increasingly, and encouragingly, the boundaries between geography and other disciplines interested in population matters — economics, sociology, history, psychology and biology as well as demography — are blurred. Thus, it is no longer accurate to think of the population geographer as being concerned exclusively with distribution and description, since recent years have seen an interest in, for example, theory and explanation in regional and national levels of fertility and mortality, detailed patterns of disease diffusion and advanced modelling of interregional population growth. Nevertheless, there is still more concern with migration and spatial variation than with other matters. The field has recently been enriched by the publication of the new International Journal of Population Geography (from 1995), though work related to population geography has appeared regularly in all major geographical journals.

The study of population has a long, varied and distinguished history (see Malthusian model) and the evolution of population geography as a sub-branch of the discipline reflects changes in the focus and methodology of geography itself, as well as in the nature of demography and population studies more generally, and also reflects a number of different national traditions. The origins of population geography date back to the German and French schools of human geography of the second half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Kosinski, 1984). There was a particular concern with population mapping and with the relationship between population and the environment. It was not, however, until after the Second World War that the sub-discipline began to take shape fully, following the publications of George (1951) in France (reflecting that country\'s renewed emphasis on demographic research more generally) and Trewartha (1953) in the United States. Other countries such as Germany, where demography had been discredited by its association with Nazi policy, were slower to follow though there was significant progress in the Soviet Union, Japan, India and elsewhere (see Clarke, 1984). Trewartha\'s paper (1953) in particular is usually seen as something of a bench-mark, since he expressed a \'conviction that the neglect of population geography constitutes a fundamental weakness in the general approach to modern geography\'. For him, \'population is the point of reference from which all the other elements are observed and from which they all, singly and collectively, derive significance and meaning. It is population which furnishes the focus\' (Trewartha, 1953, pp. 6 and 14). His \'tentative system of content and organisation\' for population geography defined the field broadly, including historical population geography, the dynamics of population growth, distribution, migration, population structure and socioeconomic characteristics.

The post-war resurgence, which was also a reflection of the increased availability of demographic sources and of the very obvious relevance of population issues in both the developed and the less developed worlds, spawned a number of texts between the late 1950s and early 1970s (for example, Beaujeu-Garnier, 1956-8; Clarke, 1965; Demko, Rose and Schnell, 1970) which gave population geography a firm place in the university curriculum in many countries. Geographers took a broad view of the importance of population with a particular, though by no means exclusive, emphasis on patterns of population change and structure and their global diversity. Migration played a central role. The field was bolstered by an improved institutional environment, including the activities sponsored by the Commission on Population Geography of the International Geographical Union (especially from the late 1950s), the Population Geography Study Group of the Institute of British Geographers (from 1963) and the Population Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers (from 1980). Population geographers have had some, though more limited, involvement with multi-disciplinary groups such as the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population.

These early geographical approaches were quite different from (and indeed had rather little effect upon) demography itself and from the 1970s it was increasingly argued that geographers needed to focus more clearly on, and benefit from, demographic method. Thus texts such as Woods (1979) and later Woods and Rees (1986) began to focus on spatial demography with much more emphasis on the central demographic phenomena of fertility and mortality and rather less on migration. For Woods (1979, p. 3) the intention was \'to merge spatial demography and population geography\' around a core of theory derived from demography (Woods, 1982). This coincided with the greater use of quantitative methods in human geography with texts such as Rees and Wilson (1977) focusing on the use of population accounts and models for spatial demographic analysis and Congdon and Batey (1989) bringing geographers, demographers, planners and statisticians together in the pursuit of regional demography. For some this attachment to the methods of demography represented a narrowing of the field, although standard texts such as Jones (1981) and Noin (1979) still drew a wide canvas and publication in the field was both buoyant and very varied throughout. Nevertheless, when reviewing the available texts, Clarke (1984, p. 2) considered that they did not reflect \'the immense variety of peoples, cultures and countries as well as of approaches, attitudes and policies to population phenomena\'.

For Findlay and Graham(1991, p. 150) the consequence of the narrower focus on demographic measures had been to lessen the impact of population geography on the discipline as a whole and to remove it from some of the debates current in human geography in the 1980s and 1990s: \'debates about gender, humanism, realism and postmodernism, which are so much part of human geography at the present time, have only the faintest of echoes in population geography\'. There has thus been a call for a greater awareness of social theory in population geography (White and Jackson, 1995) which mirrors calls for a wider theoretical and empirical base in demography itself, with a more critical view of established data sources and theories (Ogden, 1998). Thus Greenhalgh (1996, p. 27) notes that \'reflexivity about the politics of demographic praxis is notably lacking in the field … Neither the global political economies of the 1970s, nor the postcolonialism and postcolonialities of the 1980s and 1990s, nor the feminisms of any decade have had much perceptible impact\' (see feminist geographies; post-colonialism). There is also a conscious attempt to provide a more robustly critical approach to sources and to reinforce a \'mixed methodology\' that combines, for example, the quantitative data from the population census with qualitative analysis from in-depth interviews or other non-statistical sources.

However geographers have chosen to define the scope of the field at particular moments, fertility, mortality and migration are at the root of any studies of population growth and composition. So for any area: pt+n= pt + Bt,t+n — Dt,t+n + NMt,t+n where given a population at time t(pt), that population after a period of time t to t + n(pt+n) will be the result of increase due to births during the period (Bt,t+n), decrease due to deaths (Dt,t+n) and either increase or decrease due to net migration (NMt,t+n). The study of overall population growth has concerned geographers working at a number of scales and it is worth remembering that world population grew from 2500 million in the early 1950s to 6000 million in October 1999. Some have been interested in, for example, the history of world population growth and the relative prospects for both developing and developed countries; others have devoted attention to the experience of individual countries and regions. Patterns of growth through space and time (see demographic transition) have always been considered fundamental to the understanding of the wider geographical processes of urbanization, industrialization and the use of resources. There has been a continuing interest in the links between the physical and human environments, for example the impact of disasters. The study of the principal elements in the demographic equation, fertility and mortality, has not been neglected (see medical geography). Attention has been devoted in particular to highlighting the spatial dimension of patterns and their links with environmental or social conditions, e.g. the study of the spatial incidence of mortality and disease (see Howe, 1976; Cliff and Haggett, 1992) or fertility (see Gould and Brown, 1996) or combining demography and geography to produce persuasive portraits of countries (for example, Coleman and Salt, 1992) or continents (Noin and Woods, 1993; Hall and White, 1995). Demographers themselves have taken an interest in international and national patterns of demographic change which have clear geographical implications (for example, Coale and Watkins, 1986). Geographers have also taken an interest in historical population geography (though this is a field which deserves much fuller attention, see Ogden, 1986), reconstructing patterns of fertility and mortality, as well as household and family formation, through techniques such as family reconstitution and the detailed manipulation of past census, registration and ecclesiastical records (Woods, 1992).

Yet the element in the above equation to which geographers have given most attention is migration: estimating net and gross flows at all scales; looking at relationships of direction and distance (see distance decay); building models of interregional flows (Stillwell and Congdon, 1991); and analysing economic and social causes and consequences. Studies of migration have included international movements, rural-urban, urban-urban and intra-urban flows as well as seasonal and diurnal movements. Migration has further been seen as an integral part of the study of the social geography of the city (see urban geography), though the study of the consequences of migration, for example issues connected with ethnicity (Peach, 1996) and community, have increasingly tended to be treated outside the confines of population geography sensu stricto. Geographers have also sought to make contributions to migration theory and method. They have made use of myriad statistical sources and become competent statisticians; and their concern with recent and contemporary conditions has led them to rely greatly on, and make sophisticated use of, national censuses. Geographers have looked at migration in a broader perspective, using for example creative literature (King et al., 1995) or a renewed (though not new) biographical approach through questionnaires or in-depth interviews to establish the meaning of migration and the experience for the individual.

The resultant patterns of population distribution and density have long been an object of geographical inquiry. Densities have been discussed in relation not only to general environmental conditions but also with respect to agriculture and economic potential (see population density). At a broad scale there has been concern with population growth, distribution and resources, e.g. in the countries of the Third World, and increasingly with projections of these relationships. Population geography has also spread its net more widely to encompass population composition and structure. This ranges from studies of age and sex structure (Rodgers, 1992) and its implications for demographic and economic change, to studies of marital status, occupation, education and religious beliefs. The importance of gender relations has been explicitly recognized (for example, Chant, 1992; see gender and geography). The contemporary analysis of population change and structures has been discussed by geographers specifically in the context of public policy (see Champion, 1993, for Britain) and a recent text (Plane and Rogerson, 1994) has the specific sub-title \'with applications to planning and business\'. Yet, much of social, economic and cultural geography neglects population issues: some social geography of the city, for example, shows too little awareness of the profound changes taking place in the way people live in terms of family, household, patterns of sexual partnership, morbidity and mobility in particular areas. The interest in, for example, the world city or in issues of Identity and sexuality would benefit from a better understanding of the wider demographic processes at work in contemporary society and their geographical diversity across the globe (Ogden, 1998). At least some of these issues are not new but their importance needs reasserting.

The opportunities and challenges for population geography in the new millennium are threefold: first, building on a sound grasp of demographic principles to strengthen population geography by engaging more fully in wider methodological and theoretical debates in human geography; second, not far removed from Trewartha\'s statement of nearly 50 years ago (though expressed in a different vocabulary and against the background of a hugely expanded literature in social theory), to demonstrate to other branches of human geography a renewed awareness of the extent to which demographic phenomena underpin social structure and change; and third, to communicate a heightened appreciation of the importance of a spatial perspective to other disciplines concerned with population issues. (PEO)

References and Suggested Reading Alonso, W., ed., 1987: Population in an interacting world. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press. Beaujeu-Garnier, J. 1956-8: Géographie de la population, 2 vols. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Champion, A., ed., 1993: Population matters: the local dimension. London: Paul Chapman Publishing. Champion, A. and Fielding, A., eds, 1992: Migration processes and patterns, volume 1: Research progress and prospects. London: Belhaven. Chant, S., ed., 1992: Gender and migration in developing countries. London: Belhaven. Clarke, J.I. 1965: Population geography. Oxford: Pergamon (2nd edn., 1972). Clarke, J.I., ed., 1984: Geography and population — approaches and applications. Oxford and New York: Pergamon. Cliff, A. and Haggett, P. 1992: Atlas of disease distributions. Oxford: Blackwell. Coale, A.J. and Watkins, S.C., eds, 1986: The decline of fertility in Europe. The revised proceedings of a conference on the Princeton European Fertility Project. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Coleman, D. and Salt, J. 1992: The British population. Patterns, trends and processes. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Congdon, P. and Batey, P. 1989: Advances in regional demography. Information. Forecasts. Models. London: Belhaven. Daugherty, H.G. and Kammeyer, K.C. 1995: An introduction to population, 2nd edn. New York and London: Guilford. Demko, G.J., Rose, H.M. and Schnell, G.A. 1970: Population geography: a reader. New York: McGraw-Hill. Findlay, A.M. and Graham, E. 1991: The challenge facing population geography. Progress in Human Geography 15 2: 149-62. Gentileschi, M.-L. 1991: Geografia della popolazione. Rome: La Nuova Italia Scientifica. George, P. 1951: Introduction à l\'étude géographique de la population du monde. Paris: Institut D\'Etudes Démographiques. Gould, W.T.S. and Brown, M.S. 1996: Research review 2: fertility in sub-Saharan Africa. International Journal of Population Geography 2 1: 1-22. Greenhalgh, S. 1996: The social construction of population science: an intellectual, institutional and political history of twentieth-century demography. Comparative Studies in Society and History 38: 26-66. Hall, R. and White, P., eds, 1995: Europe\'s population. Towards the next century. London: UCL Press. Howe, G.M. 1976: Man, environment and disease in Britain: a medical geography of Britain through the ages. London: Penguin; New York: Barnes and Noble. Jones, H.R. 1981: Population geography, 2nd edn 1990. London: Paul Chapman. King, R., Connell, J. and White, P., eds, 1995: Writing across worlds. Literature and migration. London: Routledge. Kosinski, L. 1984: The roots of population geography. In J.I. Clarke, ed., 1984: Geography and population — approaches and applications. Oxford and New York: Pergamon, 11-24. Lutz, W., ed., 1990: Future demographic trends in Europe and North America. London and New York: Academic Press. Noin, D. 1979: Géographie de la population. Paris: Masson. Noin, D. and Woods, R. 1993: The changing population of Europe. Oxford: Blackwell. Ogden, P.E. 1986: Historical demography. In M. Pacione, ed., Historical geography: progress and prospect. London: Croom Helm, 217-49. Ogden, P.E. 1998: Population geography. Progress in Human Geography 22 2: 105-14. Peach, C., ed., 1996: Ethnicity in the 1991 census. Volume 2. The ethnic minority populations of Great Britain. London: HMSO. Plane, D.A. and Rogerson, D.A. 1994: The geographical analysis of population. With applications to planning and business. New York and Chichester: Wiley. Rees, P.H. and Wilson, A.G. 1977: Spatial population analysis. London: Edward Arnold. Rodgers, A., ed., 1992: Elderly migration and population redistribution. A comparative study. London: Belhaven; Stillwell, J. and Congdon, P., eds, 1991: Migration models: macro and micro approaches. London: Belhaven. Trewartha, G.T. 1953: A case for population geography. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 43 2: 71-91. Reprinted in Demko, G.J., Rose, H.M. and Schnell, G.A. 1970: Population geography: a reader.New York: McGraw-Hill, 5-26. White, P. and Jackson, P. 1995: Research review 1: (Re)theorising population geography. International Journal of Population Geography 1 2: 111-23. Woods, R.I. 1979: Population analysis in geography. London and New York: Longman. Woods, R.I. 1982: Theoretical population geography. London and New York: Longman. Woods, R.I. 1992: The population of Britain in the nineteenth century. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Woods, R. and Rees, P., eds, 1986: Population structures and models. Developments in spatial demography. London and Boston: Allen and Unwin.



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