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Primitive Society and its Vital Statistics


IN order to form a picture of the state of society at any time or place, some knowledge of the density and the distribution of population is very much to be desired, and may even be said to be almost indispensable. In its absence the picture can have no clear outline. If, in addition, something can be said about marital conditions and about vital statistics (and in particular about the expectation of life), such details are very illuminating. It is a matter for comment that historians and anthropologists seem so often to be unaware of the importance of the matter. It is true that it is only for recent times and for certain peoples that the information is at all complete; but there is much information of some interest, and yet there is a failure to see its importance and to use it. If anyone doubts this, let him examine some history textbooks, and notice how seldom the heading ‘population’ occurs in the index. For compilers of anthropological textbooks there is the excuse that the information has not been summarised hitherto, and therefore, such as it is, is not easily available. But this does not excuse the anthropologists, who have seldom given the matter much attention when in the field, and have never attempted to gather together the facts that are known.

Primitive Society and its Vital Statistics.

By Prof. Ludwik Krzywicki. Pp. xiii + 589. (London: Macmillan and Co., Ltd., 1934.) 20s. net.

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