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Demographic and Environmental Developments Review for AP World History

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Mar 4, 2011

Review questions for this study guide can be found at:

Demographic and Environmental Developments Review Questions for AP World History

The Population Revolution in the West

In the middle of the eighteenth century, the population of Western Europe increased dramatically. Among the causes of this increase were the end of episodes of epidemic disease and the improved diets resulting from increased consumption of potatoes. Infant mortality rates decreased, whereas larger numbers of healthy adults resulted in a higher birth rate. Larger populations provided a ready labor supply for the new factories.

Industrialization also contributed to patterns of migration. Substantial numbers of people, especially young adults, migrated from the country to the city in search of employment in factories, upsetting the makeup of the traditional Western family. Another pattern of migration involved the movement of the middle class away from the central city to emerging suburbs.

After 1850, urbanization continued in the West; in Great Britain and other Western countries the majority of the population resided in cities. Accompanying a drop in death rates was a lowering of birth rates. Families no longer felt as great a need to produce large families to serve as laborers on family farms. Contributing to falling death rates were more hygienic practices used during childbirth following Louis Pasteur's discovery of the germ theory of disease in the 1880s.

Population Growth in the Non-Western World

Population growth was not restricted to the Western world. In the nineteenth century, the population of Latin America doubled. The cultivation of the sweet potato in China increased population to levels that stressed the country's economy and resources, demonstrating a need for improvement in agricultural methods and technology in China. Also in the nineteenth century, Japan experienced a population explosion because of improvements in nutrition and medical care. Like China, Japan felt the strain in natural resources caused by its growing population. The increased consumption of the potato in the nineteenth century also produced significant population increases in Russia.

Urban Populations and Environments

Sudden population growth was only one of the problems encountered by industrialized urban areas in the West and in Japan. Water supplies were contaminated by human sewage and industrial waste. The dark skies resulting from coal-produced smoke hovering over industrial cities contributed to frequent cases of rickets, a disease of the bones caused by underexposure to sunlight.

Patterns of Migration and Immigration

Migration in the period between 1750 and 1914 took on various forms. Western Europeans continued to colonize and settle regions of the Americas, India, Africa, the Pacific, and Southeast Asia well into the eighteenth century. Settler colonies not only brought about rivalries between Europeans and native peoples but also, as in the Columbian Exchange of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, exposed indigenous peoples to European diseases. Among the victims of European diseases were the Maoris of New Zealand, whose population was reduced by about one third, and native Hawaiians, over half of whom fell to diseases such as tuberculosis and syphilis. The decimation of the Hawaiian population created a need for imported workers; in the late 1800s, workers from China and Japan arrived in the Hawaiian Islands.

The need for labor in various regions of Latin America in the late nineteenth century produced a flood of immigration from Europe to Brazil and Argentina. Many of the newcomers to Brazil were immigrants from Portugal and Italy who came to work on Brazil's coffee plantations. Some of these Italian immigrants returned to Italy part of the year to work the crops there, but others remained in Latin America permanently, adding a European flair and a new diversity to Brazil and Argentina. In the early years of the twentieth century, Russians, Germans, and Jews also contributed to the immigrant population of Latin America. Many of the Jewish immigrants were refugees from pogroms, or mass persecutions, of Jews in Russia.

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