Monday, September 10, 2012

The Black Death

This article puts they kibosh on the idea that an ever-growing population is the key to prosperity. The Black Death perversely meant a brighter future for the survivors:
Having previously analyzed more than 600 skeletons of people who died during and after the Black Death, DeWitte turned her attention this summer to studying the remains of some 300 people who lived in the 11th and 12th centuries before the Black Death. Comparing the life span of people who lived before and after the blight, she expected to see a post-Black Death population that lived longer. The more complete the skeletons she studies, the more information she has about the people and their health at the time they died.

"I found that a significantly higher number of people were living to really old ages after the Black Death. Many people lived beyond the age of 50 and particularly above the age of 70," DeWitte said. "I honestly was surprised by how dramatic the difference was in their survival. I've analyzed risks of mortality within the pre-and post-Black Death populations, and the preliminary results suggest lower overall risks of mortality after the Black Death."

DeWitte attributes the longevity of the population to two things: The Black Death's selectivity in targeting people who were frail and in poor health and a rise in living standards after the Black Death that resulted in better diet and improved housing.

 "We see this pattern in modern populations. With improvements in diet, medical care and hygiene, you tend to see decreases in death from infectious disease," DeWitte said. "Many people who survived the Black Death did so because they were basically healthier and their descendants were probably healthier. Because so many people died from the Black Death, wages increased for the people who survived. People of all social classes were eating better food, which would have had strong effects on health."
Decoding the Black Death: Anthropologist Finds Clues in Medieval Skeletons (Science Daily)

So who benefits from the ever-growing population? The people on the top of the pyramid, that's who. Now you know the real reason why right-wing authoritarian movements oppose abortion and birth control. Notice also how keeping unhealthy people alive has meant that we cannot construct mega-hospitals fast enough and it's eating our economies alive.

1 comment:

  1. Europe had other diseases going around back then... like malaria.

    Maybe the decrease in population cut the spread of other deadly diseases.


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