The reproductive revolution and sociology of reproduction

Julio Perez Diaz, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona
John MacInnes, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

We can think of demography’s object of study as a ‘system’ sustaining a population over time even though its individual human components are mortal and continuously change. The system’s efficiency is the relation between ‘input’, (lives with which it nourishes itself) and ‘output’, the volume of lives it sustains at any given time. The demographic transition can be understood as the result of a quantum leap in this system’s efficiency. What we thus label the reproductive revolution resembles other historical productivity revolutions, from the Neolithic onwards; in which the volume of labour needed in some sector of production has shrunk due to fundamental technical or social innovation. Because it is expressed in transversal measures, demographic transition theory doesn’t adequately grasp this revolution and its consequences. Generational indicators of reproduction are better and help reveal its far-reaching consequences for understanding both gender change and the impact of population ‘ageing’.

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Presented in Session 94: Interpretations of population history