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Famine, demography and endemic poverty

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  • S. R. Osmani

    (University of Ulster)

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    Abstract

    This paper investigates the possible long-term effects of famine on endemic poverty. Four alternative hypotheses are considered-one Malthusian and three post-Malthusian. The Malthusian hypothesis regards famine as a temporary escape valve from extreme privations, from the point of view of the survivors of famine. By contrast, the first post-Malthusian hypothesis views famine as having been the principle perpetuator of endemic poverty in the pre-modern world. The next hypothesis takes the extreme opposite view that famine has no significant long-term effect on poverty. The final hypothesis covers the middle ground and contends that even though famine may not be the principal perpetuator of poverty, it does have the potential of accentuating endemic poverty. The paper argues in favour of the final hypothesis and elaborates on the channels-some demographic, some economic, and some social-through which the long-term adverse effects of famine are likely to be transmitted.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of International Development.

    Volume (Year): 8 (1996)
    Issue (Month): 5 ()
    Pages: 597-623

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:8:y:1996:i:5:p:597-623

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    Web page: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/5102/home

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    1. Corbett, Jane, 1988. "Famine and household coping strategies," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 16(9), pages 1099-1112, September.
    2. Phelim Boyle & Cormac GrĂ¡do, 1986. "Fertility trends, excess mortality, and the Great Irish Famine," Demography, Springer, vol. 23(4), pages 543-562, November.
    3. Ronald Lee, 1980. "A Historical Perspective on Economic Aspects of the Population Explosion: The Case of Preindustrial England," NBER Chapters, in: Population and Economic Change in Developing Countries, pages 517-566 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Fogel, Robert W, 1994. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 369-95, June.
    5. Richard H. Steckel, 1995. "Stature and the Standard of Living," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1903-1940, December.
    6. Robert W. Fogel, 1989. "Second Thoughts on the European Escape from Hunger: Famines, Price Elasticities, Entitlements, Chronic Malnutrition, and Mortality Rates," NBER Historical Working Papers 0001, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. O'Rourke, K., 1989. "Did The Great Irish Famine Matter?," Papers fb-_89-17, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
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