Fertility, Family, and Human Migrations

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The aim of this course is to introduce students to the relationship between demographic change, economic growth, and human well-being. Nothing is more fundamental to our experience whether as individuals, as family members and in society, as death, birth, and our physical place in the world. While those basic features of human life have remained a constant feature of our existence, the nature of the economic and social forces that determine the character of these interactions have changed considerably over time. The topics covered in the course illustrate examples of how human societies have wrestled with demographic problems both in history and at present. We study these topics through an extensive set of readings and lecture material covering theories, methods and evidence thought to be relevant by economists and demographers. Some of the topics we cover include: freedom and empowerment of women in developing countries, demographic change in traditional societies; human migration; the demographic transition; changing family dynamics; the economic determinants of well-being; and the role of public policy in promoting more sustainable human communities. While the emphasis of the course is on historical examples, the course will be motivated by related problems in the modern global economy. By the end of the term, students should expect not only to have a greater knowledge of demographic change, but to have also gained some understanding of the application of economic theory and methodology to problems and debates about the relationship between human population dynamics, economic growth and the standard of living.
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