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The Hypothesis of the Mobility Transition

Wilbur Zelinsky
Geographical Review
Vol. 61, No. 2 (Apr., 1971), pp. 219-249
DOI: 10.2307/213996
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/213996
Page Count: 31
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Abstract

Analysis of the modernization process that has spread throughout the world in recent decades can be greatly enriched by viewing it within the framework of the theory of the demographic transition. This is a family of interrelated phenomena: the vital transition, which is concerned with the dynamics of fertility and mortality; the mobility transition, which encompasses change in the character, rate, and significance of migration and circulation along with vicarious movements undertaken by means of communication; and other transitions not yet formally described. Five successive phases are postulated for the mobility transition. Four phases have already been experienced, most notably in Western Europe and northeastern North America, and a fifth is predicted for the immediate future. The available evidence tends to support the hypothesis and to confirm the supposition that the diffusion of sequential phases outward through space and forward through time has appreciably accelerated in recent years.

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