A New Estimate of the Hawaiian Population for 1778, First European Contact

February 13, 2:30pm - 4:30pm
Mānoa Campus, Saunders 244 Add to Calendar

A high level of uncertainty surrounds the size of the Hawaiian population at the time of first European contact in 1778. Estimates range from less than 300,000 to 800,000. While some estimates have more of an empirical base than others, none of them is done using “backcasting,” a demographic forecasting method run in reverse from known data. Using a commonly used technique for this purpose, the 1910 count of Native Hawaiians by age in Hawai’i is taken back to 1770 in decennial cycles. Interpolating between the 1780 and 1770 estimates yields an estimated 683,200 Hawaiians in 1778. It is not surprising that uncertainty would surround the number of Hawaiians at the time of first European contact in the year 1778. No known census of this population at that time exists and without a full count, the only recourse is to estimate the size of this population. Even the estimates based on data and for which methodological descriptions are available, however, represent attempts to reconstruct the Hawaiian population in 1778 using information available at the time of European contact or earlier. These estimates include the use of counts of houses in villages visited or observed by the Europeans, their estimates of average household size, and extrapolation of these estimates to all of Hawai’i. It appears that post-contact data in the form of 19th and 20th century census data has not been used in a retrospective extrapolation, a “backcast,” to estimate the size of the Hawaiian population at first contact. The post-contact information used in this study is in the form of US Census Bureau counts of the Native Hawaiian population in Hawai’i by age (and sex) in 1910, 1920, and 1930. David A. Swanson received his PhD in Sociology from UH Mānoa. He is a Professor of Sociology at the University of California-Riverside.

Event Sponsor
Graduate Student Sociological Association, Sociology Colloquium Series, and funded (in part) by the Student Activity and Program Fee Board, Mānoa Campus

More Information
Jonathan Dial / Joy Lacanienta, 956-7693, socdept@hawaii.edu, http://www.sociology.hawaii.edu/index.html

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