Poor underprivileged countries face a long period of high population increase, while poverty and natural resource limits provide growing constraints to the management of population increase. Demography appears increasingly to turn to the study of populations well underway in the fertility transition. The "development optimism" implied in this shift needs to be set against the evidence of rapidly growing inequalities, between and within countries. The question needs to be raised whether fertility reductions will reach replacement levels everywhere.

Das Gupta's recent contribution on the role of institutional and socio-political change for the demographic transition appears to offer a very viable framework for further research on historical Europe as well as current non-European states. However, it needs to be extended in the direction given by Castells' theories on the process of social exclusion in the information age in order to incorporate situations where fertility stabilises well over replacement level. The social implications of such a scenario are a challenge to both science and politics.


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pp. 23-35
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