Population Number

Population Number

Population, the number and characteristics of the inhabitants of an area. The scientific study of population and its movements could not begin until reliable statistical data became available. The provision of such figures requires an efficient government al machine capable of organizing their collection. Few reliable population figures exist for any period before the eighteenth century. Statistical information is of two kinds; first, censuses attempt to enumerate every member of the population alive at a given point of time and collect information about sex, age, occupation, etc. In English-speaking countries censuses take place generally every ten years. Census statistics are not alone sufficient for a detailed study of population movement; in the absence of migration, population increases by births and decreases by deaths, and in many parts of the world births are closely associated with the number of marriages. Continuous figures of births and deaths need to be available if changes in numbers are to be studied in detail. It is also desirable to have figures of migration. In many countries births, marriages and deaths have to be registered for administrative and legal purposes, and the vital statistics' are derived from them.

Large areas of the world still have no census and no vital statistics. China constitutes the biggest gap in modern knowledge, since it has been estimated to contain one-sixth of total world population. For many other areas data are scanty and unreliable; the U.N. estimate for world population in 2002 was over 3,000 million; but this estimate must be treated with caution. Knowledge of the present population of the world is precarious, but what is known of the history of population is even more so. In general there are no trustworthy figures for any part of the world before 1750 and recourse must be had to partial figures or indirect evidence. The figures that exist show that world population has been growing at an accelerating rate since 1650.

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