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On the Impact of Spatial Momentum


  • Robert Schoen

    (Pennsylvania State University)


Momentum, the population growth that occurs after a fall in fertility to replacement level, has long been appreciated as a factor in the future population growth of many countries. This paper argues that another aspect of growing populations - their high proportion rural - is also a source of significant growth, and refers to the additional growth attributable to geographical redistribution as spatial momentum. Using simplifying assumptions, a model for analyzing spatial momentum is developed based on population composition, rates of growth, and levels of interregional migration. Calculations are then done using (i) hypothetical populations exhibiting a range of plausible demographic behavior, and (ii) the population of Mexico, 1970. The results show that spatial momentum can have a substantial impact on ultimate population size under commonly encountered circumstances.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Schoen, 2002. "On the Impact of Spatial Momentum," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 6(3), pages 49-66, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:6:y:2002:i:3

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. A Rogers & F Willekens, 1978. "The Spatial Reproductive Value and the Spatial Momentum of Zero Population Growth," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 10(5), pages 503-518, May.
    2. A Rogers & F Willekens, 1978. "The spatial reproductive value and the spatial momentum of zero population growth," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 10(5), pages 503-518, May.
    3. repec:cai:popine:popu_p1986_41n3_0609 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Martin Brockerhoff, 1999. "Urban Growth in Developing Countries: A Review of Projections and Predictions," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 25(4), pages 757-778.
    5. Shapiro, D. & Tambashe, B.O., 1999. "Fertility Transition in Urban and Rural Areas of Sub-Saharan Africa," Papers 9-99-1, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
    6. Young Kim & Robert Schoen & P. Sarma, 1991. "Momentum and the growth-free segment of a population," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 28(1), pages 159-173, February.
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    More about this item


    population growth; population momentum; spatial momentum; urbanization;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General


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