1-2 of 2 Results

  • Keywords: population size x
Clear all

Article

Saskia Hin

People’s life courses are shaped by the complex interactions of contextual factors, of individual behavior, and of opportunities and constraints operating at the macro level. Demography studies these processes with a focus on particular transitions in the life course: birth, leaving home, marriage, and other transitions in civil status (divorce, remarriage, and transitions into widowhood), the birth and survival of offspring, migration, and finally the end of the life cycle—death.

Initial work on the ancient world focussed primarily on macro-level data, trying to establish overall trends in population development on the basis of census figures and other population estimates. This approach has received further impetus with the advent of survey demography (see Population Trends). More recently, attention has turned to single events in the life course. Core demographic studies have attempted to establish patterns and rates of marriage, fertility, migration, and mortality. Others have taken a complementary approach with a stronger focus on qualitative data. These support investigation of sociological, cultural, and economic aspects of demographic phenomena. The remainder of this article focusses on a concise evaluation of current understanding of marriage, fertility, migration, mortality, and population trends in the ancient Greco-Roman world.

Article

Saskia Hin

Roman population size and population trends have been debated for long by proponents of low and high counts; these have recently been joined by proponents of a middle count. Each is based on a different interpretation of the enigmatic Roman census figures. Different understandings of patterns of death and disease, of marriage, of childbearing, and of infanticide follow on from these interpretations. Recent studies have added new perspectives, drawing on archaeological finds, and have started to pay more attention to migration flows.

There are two different kinds of questions historians might wish to ask about the population of the Roman world: How large was it or any of its constituent parts? And what were the patterns and tendencies of birth rates, death rates, and migration rates, with their implications for overall growth or decline?

Five sources of information offer imperfect answers to the first kind of question: census figures, mostly but not exclusively, for the Roman Republic and early Empire, where they served for taxation, military recruitment, and political purposes; figures relating to the feeding of (part of) the population of the city of Rome; occasional references to the population of particular cities or areas, usually without any possibility of knowing on what they were based; figures for the carrying capacity of different areas of the Roman world in the earliest post-Roman periods for which reasonably reliable figures exist; and, finally, archaeological survey evidence that provides indications of change in land use, and implicitly of population change over time.