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The Population Debate in Historical Perspective: Revisionism Revisited


  • Kelley, Allen C.


There appeared to be a dramatic shift of thinking from an alarmist and pessimistic assessment of the consequences of population growth prevalent before 1985, to a more balanced and eclectic assessment thereafter. It is argued that this shift, sometimes denoted as "revisionist thinking," is due less to a shift amongst economic demographers, and more to the elevation of economists' views vis-a-vis those of demographers, biologists, and others. The impact of the 1986 National Academy Report was profound, causing a careful consideration of the 1971 NAS report, discovered to be badly flawed in its presentation. Revisionism is re-defined to emphasize less the bottom-line results and more the methodology of evaluation, where a long-run perspective is espoused and (positive) feedbacks of initial adverse impacts of population growth are highlighted.

Suggested Citation

  • Kelley, Allen C., 1999. "The Population Debate in Historical Perspective: Revisionism Revisited," Working Papers 99-09, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:duk:dukeec:99-09

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    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • B2 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925
    • N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
    • N31 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913


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