Vital Statistics of a Primitive People


    A STUDY of the vital statistics of the lowland Sěnoi (Sakai) of Perak, Malay Peninsula, by H. D. Noone (J. Fed. Malay States Mus., 15, 4; 1939) is of interest in its bearing on the effect of the interracial and cultural contacts of a primitive people on their chances of survival. A generation ago it was regarded as a matter of time only before the then dwindling pagan tribes of the Malay Peninsula would disappear. The observations which Mr. Noone now records, however, suggest that in the group under notice recuperative forces are at work, which enable them at least to hold their own against the effects of Malayan contacts and the adoption by some of their number of the tenets of the Mahommedan faith. In the course of an economic and demographic survey in 1936, Mr. Noone found that in fourteen groups with a population estimated at 1,600 the number of children born to the average lowland Sěnoi married woman is 4·15, the model family also being four, but with a tendency to increase. The size of the family which occurs so many times as to contribute potentially more to a future generation than any other is five. With this figure as a characteristic, there is ground for hope for the future.

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    Vital Statistics of a Primitive People. Nature 145, 97–98 (1940).

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