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  • Surviving Old Age in an Ageing World. Old People in France, 1820-1940 - J. Bourdieu, L. Kesztenbaum
  • Malthus and Three Approaches to Solving the Population Problem - D. Rutherford
  • The Road to Successful Adoption. A Survey in France - C. Villeneuve Gokalp
  • Familial and Environmental Influences on Longevity in Historical Quebec - R. Mazan, A. Gagnon
  • Too Poor to Marry? Urban Employment Crisis and Men’s First Entry into Union in Burkina Faso - A.-E. Calvès


  • Did the Prevalence of Disability in France Really Fall in the 1990s? A Discussion of Questions asked in the French Health Survey - E. Cambois, J.-M. Robine, P. Mormiche



Malthus and Three Approaches to Solving the Population Problem

Donald Rutherford

Throughout his writings, especially in the six editions of his Essay on Population, Malthus’ extended discussion of his population principle - the fundamental tendency towards divergence between population and subsistence growth rates - suggests several solutions to the problem he defined. To clarify the nature of his theory, detailed conceptual analysis is essential. The four human roles of worker, utilitarian, procreator and consumer identified by Malthus need to be assessed to explain the behaviour of the human population. Subsistence, like human behaviour, is a complex idea. It takes different forms, ranging from basic food to luxuries, and is rendered obscure in Malthus through his use of many different expressions for it. The concept of subsistence is analysed in this article within the eighteenth century framework of the four stages of economic growth and largely uses a population model for a single country rather than for the whole world. The conclusion to this enquiry is that although Malthus admits that an advanced country is able to deal with population growth through industrial specialization and food importing, he rejects this solution in favour of an approach based on a balanced economy.

Familial and Environmental Influences on Longevity in Historical Quebec

Ryan Mazan and Alain Gagnon

Data from historical populations provide an excellent context for examining the familial and environmental components of survival to old ages. Using data from the Registre de population du Québec ancien produced by the Programme de recherche en démographie historique of the University of Montreal, we investigated the relation between the survivorship of individuals and the longevity of their siblings, their parents and their spouses in a population of French-Canadian colonists born between 1625 and 1704. We also introduced factors to take account of environmental and social conditions. We used the average age at death of siblings surviving past age 50 and simulated the "sibling" effect that was not influenced by sibship size. Using Cox proportional hazards models, we found a highly significant sibling effect. Each additional year in average age at death of siblings reduced the risk of death by 2.1% for males and 1.6% for females. There is also some evidence that shared social and environmental conditions, both in childhood and in adult life, influence this relationship.


Surviving old age in an ageing world. Elderly people in France, 1820-1940

Jérôme Bourdieu - Lionel Kesztenbaum

Compared with other European countries, population ageing began particularly early in France. That trend affected both societal organization and family ties. Examining changes in asset ownership by the French between 1820 and 1940 reveals that the proportion of people who died leaving no estate increased, and increased at every age. Taking this dual observation as a starting point, this paper seeks to analyse the strategies employed by older people to survive through old age, utilizing three types of resources: personal economic resources, family resources and state resources. The analysis shows the heterogeneity of this older age group and hence of the survival strategies deployed. Savings are a solution only for a minority; they enable access to other resources and in particular offer an alternative to continued employment. It is also shown that pensions, which were introduced gradually, facilitated more widespread access to savings. Lastly, the growing share of older people in the French population was accompanied by the increasing role of state support.


Too poor to marry? Urban employment crisis and men’s first entry into union in Burkina Faso

Anne-Emmanuèle Calvès

Using a detailed event history survey carried out in Burkina Faso in 2000 (EMIUB), this article studies the effect of deteriorating urban employment conditions in the 1990s on men’s first union formation. The results show that young city-dwellers’ first entry into union is significantly delayed and the manner of union formation has also changed. Periods of cohabitation are more frequent among men in the most recent cohorts (1965-1974), some wedding ceremonies are now postponed or called off, and the entire matrimonial process is tending to last longer. Whereas for the oldest cohorts (1945-1954) the date of first marriage was not a matter of money, among the youngest, obtaining a paid job is crucial to forming a first union. The results also show that as urban employment is increasingly informal, inequalities with respect to marriage are emerging among young men in the most recent cohorts according to the type of work they do.


The Road to Successful Adoption - A Survey in France

Catherine Villeneuve-Gokalp

An INED survey was conducted in ten French départements on 1,851 personal files of individuals who ended adoption procedures in 2001 or 2002. It was supplemented by a postal questionnaire. The survey results shed new light on the organization, duration and outcome of adoption procedures in France, on the demographic and social characteristics of adoption candidates, and the influence of these characteristics on the adoption outcome. One candidate in two finally adopted at the end of a procedure that lasted on average three years. The others did not obtain mandatory prior approval, sometimes because their application were rejected (8%), but more often because they gave up along the way (16%). One candidate in four obtained approval but did not adopt a child, either because there was no match for them or because they abandoned the project, discouraged by the long wait and difficult procedure. The candidates were mostly childless couples, sterile, and socially and economically privileged. The social services tend to favour these categories in the approval procedure, which contributes to a self-exclusion process among candidates who anticipate a negative result. There are sharp differences between départements but, contrary to popular opinion, they tend to concern the dropout rate or ease of access to international adoption rather than the approval decision itself.


Did the Prevalence of Disability in France Really Fall in the 1990s?
A Discussion on French Health Surveys

E. Cambois, J.-M. Robine, P. Mormiche

In 2002-2003, the French Health Survey included - for the third time since 1980 - a general question on impairments and disabilities in daily life". The responses obtained suggest that the prevalence of disability has fallen far more rapidly in the past decade than in earlier periods. Indeed, the drop exceeds the most optimistic scenarios. Our study devotes special attention to changes in the survey protocol and their possible influence on comparability of the latest results with those of previous surveys. The analysis shows that the general question in the 2002-2003 survey mainly records severe activity restrictions and proven (and thus relatively rare) disability situations, whereas the wording was designed to identify "basic limitations" as well, which are far more common. This selection was more pronounced in the latest survey than in its predecessors. In conclusion, the impairments and disabilities question does not provide continuity with the time series begun in 1980, but it yields additional information on the various types of functional problems via that situations of social disadvantage that it more specifically brings to light.

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