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From the vantage point of the late 1980s, what passes for orthodoxy in American demography is a perspective founded on two basic assumptions: rapid population growth in non-industrial societies is a significant problem, and providing contraceptives to peasant couples can lower fertility prior to industrialization. The emergence of this perspective within American demography during the 1950s and the rise of revisionist views more recently are examined. Orthodoxy's emergence is attributed to two sets of factors: first, the inability of demographic transition theory to explain several postwar demographic trends; second, the manner in which the Cold War, decolonization, and the influx of funds for fertility control changed American demographers' approach to the study of population trends. The recent rise of revisionism is attributed both to orthodoxy's difficulty in digesting the favor- able economic and demographic trends of the 1970s and to the changes in the political and funding environments within which American demographers work.


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Copyright 1988 Wiley and Population Council.

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Population and Development Review

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Hodgson, Dennis. "Orthodoxy and revisionism in American demography." Population and Development Review 14, no. 4 (December 1988), pp. 541-569.

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