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A Global History of Historical Demography

Half a Century of Interdisciplinarity

Edited By Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux, Ioan Bolovan and Sølvi Sogner

At the XXIst World Congress of the International Committee of Historical Sciences (ICHS/CISH) in 2010 in Amsterdam, the International Commission for Historical Demography (ICHD) decided to write an overview of its own history. Fifty years had gone by since the CISH XIst World Congress in Stockholm 1960, when historians took the first tentative initiatives to create a wholly new interdisciplinary commission for historical demography, a meeting place for a budding discipline where researchers in letters and science could meet, exchange ideas, cultivate and develop a new field. This book is the outcome of that decision.

Demography, past, present and future is a common concern for all inhabitants of this planet. The variation is great, however, with regard to sources, social and political conditions, state of the art, technological development, national and local initiatives. In the course of half a century many changes take place. Keeping abreast of the gigantic streams of information and innovation in the field is demanding, even more so for a discipline with global dimensions and ambitions. The book makes fascinating reading, and preparing it has been a rewarding and thought provoking experience. The thirty-seven articles in the book represent as many different stories.

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23. Family Demography in Traditional Chosŏn Korea: Survival Strategies of Families


Family Demography in Traditional Chosŏn Korea

Survival Strategies of Families

Kuentae KIM1


In the twentieth century, Korea experienced a rapid growth of its population. A tight birth control policy had been implemented from the 1960s throughout the 1980s for fear that the state would be saddled with a large population. The birth control policy in South Korea was effective in reducing the numbers of newborn babies from over 1 million births in 1960 to less than 500,000 births in 2011. By contrast, there has been a big increase in the senior population (people aged over 70 years) since the 1960s. The senior population grew from 380,000 in 1960 to amazingly 3.8 million in 2011,2 posing a graver problem than that of the new-born population in the 1960s and the 1970s.

As noted, population problems in Korea have been posed as a serious social issue since the 1960s; however, interest in demographic studies came about rather recently. In the field of Korean historical demographic study, a milestone was reached in 2003, when the computerized CD-Rom database of the Tansŏng household registers (hojŏk) was published by the Daedong Institute of Korean Studies, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul Korea. Korea possesses its share of surviving sources for conducting historical demographic research, such as hojŏk and genealogies (chokpo). A brief introduction to such demographic data sources in Korea is in order.

The practice of compiling the...

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