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Aristotle and Open Population Thinking


  • Philip Kreager


Aristotle's "Politics" contains the most extensive consideration of actual populations to survive from Antiquity. Population, for Aristotle, is a logistics of memberships. The size, fertility, and other properties of a state's population are determined by relationships among the several subpopulations that it comprises. This approach gives rise to a comprehensive logic that addresses many policy concerns of modern demography, yet within fundamentally different ideas of quantification and structure. Some of this logic fits easily with current demographic thinking. Relations among sub-populations, for example, play a crucial role in population change because they are conduits of communication and reflect differences in education. Aristotle's method stands in contrast to modern demographic thinking, however, in treating migration, inequality, and the mutability of population memberships as primary processes of population change. Given that interest in this conjunction of issues is now central to the demography of globalization, there is added reason to consider Aristotle's insights as complementary to modern population studies. His principal case study, the constitution of Athens, illustrates the development of his thought. Copyright (c) 2008 The Population Council, Inc..

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  • Philip Kreager, 2008. "Aristotle and Open Population Thinking," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 34(4), pages 599-629.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:popdev:v:34:y:2008:i:4:p:599-629

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yves Charbit, 2002. "La Cité platonicienne : histoire et utopie," Population (french edition), Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED), vol. 57(2), pages 231-260.
    2. William Kandel & Emilio A. Parrado, 2005. "Restructuring of the US Meat Processing Industry and New Hispanic Migrant Destinations," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 31(3), pages 447-471.
    3. Arjan de Haan, 1999. "Livelihoods and poverty: The role of migration - a critical review of the migration literature," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(2), pages 1-47.
    4. David Coleman & Robert Rowthorn, 2004. "The Economic Effects of Immigration into the United Kingdom," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 30(4), pages 579-624.
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    Cited by:

    1. Philip Kreager, 2014. "On the History of Malthusian Thought: A Review Essay," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 40(4), pages 731-742, December.

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