"The Domesday account of York seems to suggest that by 1066 the city had perhaps as many as 1875 households, with a population probably approaching 10000." (That's 5.33 people/household.) [James Campbell, The Anglo-Saxons]
"Not until the beginning of the 20th century did Europe's urban populations finally become self-sustaining: before then, constant immigration of healthy peasants from the countryside was necessary to make up for the constant deaths of city dwellers from crowd diseases. [Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel]
"As late as the eighteenth century, Russia's urban inhabitants comprised only 3 per cent of the total population, and even this figure is deceptive because the majority of Russian city dwellers traditionally have consisted of landlords and peasants who grew their own food." [Richard Pipes, Russia Under the Old Regime]
Atlas of World Cultures has a wealth of information about a representative sampling of the world's cultures (present and past). For example, over half of the surveyed cultures prohibit marriage to a first cousin. Metal working is almost always performed exclusively by males (with one exception). 111 of the 563 cultures had hereditary slavery, 68 non-hereditary slavery, and 49 had slavery but its nature was not specified in the source literature.

Here's a summary of settlement patterns:

Migratory Bands 52
Seminomadic Communities 82
Semisedentary Communities 53
Impermanent Settlements 14
Dispersed Neighborhoods 52
Hamlet Clusters 48
Nucleated Villages or Town 243
Same, with outlying homesteads 20
[George Peter Murdock, Atlas of World Cultures]

Growth Rates

Population growth "rates as high as 3.4 percent per year have been observed in modern times when people colonized virgin lands, such as when the HMS Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian wives colonized Pitcairn island." [Jared Diamond, Guns, Germs, and Steel]
“In ordinary years, people died at rates around 25 to 35 per 1000 per year (the death rate was a little lower than the birth rate), but every few years epidemic, famine, violence — or all three — killed larger numbers, pruning back population growth. These crises were usually local or regional in scope. ... Cities remained particularly dangerous places, where people died faster than others were born, sustained only by in-migrants from surrounding villages. ... in general this was the outline of the demographic regime in agrarian socieites before 1700. In the sixteen centuries before 1700, world population grew, on average, by about 12 percent per century.” [J. R. McNeill and William H. McNeill, The Human Web]

Copyright ©2003 David Dunham. Last updated 2 Nov 03.

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