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Population Trends In Tokugawa Japan: 1600–1868

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Chapter Summary

Tokugawa Japan has been frequently described as a model of Malthusian trap, with population stagnation, abortion and infanticide. Poverty and misery have been labeled to this society due to this stagnation. Rather, through the new views, it was decisive pre-condition to Japan's success of industrialization. Demographically, there was nothing of stagnation, but several dimensions by time and space. The first phase, the 17th century, was characterized by very high population growth with urbanization. The second, the 18th century, had a stagnation when looked at national population. But, if it is examined locally, stagnation might have happened by chance, offsetted by totally different trends of local population. The third, the early 19th century, obviously told us steady population increase nationwide, followed by modern growth. From 1800 onward, population growth became a national phenomenon, although it was interrupted by epidemics, national population had begun long-term growth which continued as modern population growth.

Keywords: abortion; industrialization; infanticide; Malthusian trap; national population; population growth; population stagnation; Tokugawa Japan



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