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August 22, 1966

The Changing Faces of the United States

Author Affiliations

From Harvard University, Center for Population Studies, Cambridge, Mass.

JAMA. 1966;197(8):638-642. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110080078025

Many demographic trends are of importance to physicians. Some of them, physicians can do very little about. Others are dependent on medical action and medical care. In this sense, there is a genuine cybernetic relationship between demographic trends and the medical profession in the United States.

The most obvious example of this relationship is, of course, death rates among our population, and particularly age-specific death rates (the proportion of our people of a particular age who die at that age).

The death rates and the age-specific death rates affect the number of doctors, the nature of medical research, and the character of medical care. As our age-specific death rates tend to level off, or even increase, as they have during the last few years in certain upper-age groups, the problems of the physician become more difficult.

Birthrates are also, to a limited extent, a responsibility of the physician. The number