Testing the Malthusian model: Population and storage at Housepit 54, Bridge River, British Columbia

Anna Marie Prentiss, Thomas A. Foor, Ashley Hampton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Considerable debate exists concerning drivers of social change in human societies. One perspective asserts that demographic and economic conditions play a critical role in conditioning human organizational decision-making. Another argument suggests that human agency conditioned by innovative thinking outside of demographic and economic pressures is the more fundamental source of change. The Bridge River site, British Columbia is an optimal locality to explore variable effects of subsistence economy and demography on social change. Previous research indicates that Malthusian processes played important roles in demographic, socio-economic, and political change. This paper presents a test of the Malthusian model drawing data on storage capacity and population size from a single long-lived house within the Bridge River village. Results suggest that household occupants likely experienced two Malthusian periods, persisting through the first but abandoning the house and village during the second. An important implication is that economic and demographic conditions have critical impacts on social process but that specific episodes of collective action also remain dependent upon human agency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-550
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
StatePublished - Apr 2018


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