Abstract

The Jesuits' political, social, and economic régime had a profound impact on the Guaraní demographic system. In the relatively long period of peace and stability, between the early 1640s and the early 1730s, the population increased from 40,000 to more than 140,000. In spite of high mortality and recurrent epidemics introduced from abroad, the Jesuits' emphasis on early and monogamous unions maintained the birth rate at the maximum level under normal conditions, generating a large enough surplus of births relative to deaths to compensate for deªcits during years of crisis. The expulsion and departure of the Jesuits in 1767/68, however, set in motion a process of irreversible decline, and led to the diaspora of the missions' population.

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