Population in Europe and elsewhere displayed a long-term cyclical pattern in which phases of sustained growth alternated with stagnation or absolute decline. Demographers recognise three major cycles of population growth, which are conventionally termed ‘ancient,’ ‘medieval,’ and ‘early modern,’ before the onset of the so-called ‘modern rise of population’ in the later 18th century. The size and structure of any population are determined in the first instance by two factors: migration and ‘natural increase,’ the balance of births and deaths whose relative importance usually depends on geographical scale. The vital processes of ‘fertility’ and ‘mortality’ represent, in an abstract form, all the things ‘going on’ in a population that make its members more or less likely to experience associated vital events. Models of pre-industrial population and economy include the ‘classical,’ ‘hearth,’ and ‘ecological’ models.
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