Human Population: What Are the Limits?

A Conversation with Paul Demeny

From the Environmental Review Newsletter Volume Two Number Eleven, November 1995


The world population is now approximately 5.7 billion people, most of whom live in developing countries. It is thought that as the developing world becomes more industrialized and urban, that people will have fewer children, and the world population should peak around 12 billion early in the next century. The reduction in birth rate due to the shift from an agrarian to an urban, industrial/service economy, occurred first in Europe, then North America and Japan, and most recently in East Asia; that is, the process seems to be independent of culture and geography.
     We spoke with Professor Paul Demeny of the Population Council, a private research and technical assistance organization based in New York. Dr. Demeny came to the U.S. from Hungary in 1956, received the Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University in 1961. He became a full professor in 1969 at the University of Michigan and established the Institute on Asia and Pacific Matters at the East West Institute at the University of Hawaii in 1971. He was vice president and director of the Center for Policy Studies at the Population Council until 1988, and is now a distinguished scholar there.
     Professor Demeny established the quarterly journal, Population and Development Review, in 1974. The journal seeks to advance knowledge of the relationships between population and socioeconomic development and provides a forum for discussion of related issues of public policy. Subscriptions cost $32.00 for one year. The journal can be reached at Population and Development Review, One Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza, New York, New York 10017. Phone (212)339-0514

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