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Macfarlane, A. D. J. (1972) Population and Economy in Central Nepal: A Study of the Gurungs. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This study of the Gurungs, a mountain tribe of central Nepal, analyses the way in which population growth occurs and its effects on economy and society. Thus it continues the work of Bernard Pignede's Les Gurungs. The population of the Gurungs has increased about five-fold during the last hundred years; at present rates it will increase at least eight-fold in the next century. The way in which this occurs is examined through analysis of the age/sex structure, fertility and mortality patterns. The social factors affecting demographic rates, for example attitudes to children, army service, marriage customs, the treatment of disease, are outlined. It appears that in all demographic and medical features the Gurungs occupy a position half way between the 'ideal type' Asian society and western industrialized countries. The age pyramid is not very steeply tapered, men and women marry relatively late, fertility and mortality rates are low for Nepal. As yet there do not appear to be marked differences between different sub-groups in the population, though the installation of a water pipe in the village is already giving an advantage to some villagers. During the last hundred years the economic system of the Gurungs has entirely altered from one based on trading and pastoral activities to heavy dependence on arable farming and army services. The possibility of future expansion to meet continues population growth is considered by analysing the various resources of forest, land, labour and non-productive goods. Family budgeting is then closely examined in order to see how particular households deal with the problems of earning a living; which have deficits, which have labour surpluses; which are malnourished. The question of whether population pressure is leading to greater inequality, and the enormous effects of army employment on Gurung society are among the topics discussed. Land tax records are used to see how landownership has changed over the last eighty years. The general conclusion is that the outlook is bleak. Unless effective population control is introduced, unemployment, inequality landlessness, malnutrition, erosion, and a number of as yet barely recognized problems will grow very rapidly. Finally population will be stabilized by a rise in the death rate.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:23

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