Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 April 2011
Over the course of the twentieth century, Southeast Asia's population will have grown from 80 to 530 million. Much of this extraordinary growth is due to the very rapid decline in mortality over the second half of the century, but the socioeconomic and political attributes of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Southeast Asian societies also contributed to rapid population growth, especially in the settlement of frontier rice-growing regions. Although fertility transitions are underway in almost every country in the region, the population of the region will probably double in size before growth ceases sometime in the middle of the twenty-first century.
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Conference of the Northwest Regional Consortium for Southeast Asian Studies, 30 September to 2 October, 1988 at the University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon. The paper has been extensively revised while the author was a Fellow at the Centre for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (Stanford, California) during the 1993–94 academic year and supported, in part, by grants from the National Science Foundation (SES-9022192) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD21267). I am indebted to Peter Xenos, Norman Owen, and especially to Anthony Reid for their pioneering scholarship on the historical demography of Southeast Asia that inspired this essay. I am also grateful to George Immerwahr for his assistance and to the anonymous reader for a very constructive critique of an earlier version of this paper.
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