Population and Environment

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 359-387

First online:

The arithmetic of growth: Methods of calculation

  • Albert A. BartlettAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, University of Colorado

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This is a tutorial on the relations between population data and the rates of growth that are calculated from the data. For the calculation of rates of growth, discrete and continuous compounding will be compared so that the reader can see the reasons for using the mathematics of continuous compounding, which is the mathematics of exponential growth. Some properties of exponential growth are developed. Semi-logarithmic graphs will be discussed as a device for representing the size of growing populations and for analyzing the nature of the growth. Illustrative examples will be worked out in order to emphasize applications and utility.