Sex and Age Structure 1625–1980


Map Code: Ax00691

The distorted demography of early colonial Virginia reflected the harshness of frontier settlement. In the 17th century, male migration exceeded female by a ratio of 6:1, and most male migrants were in their 20s. High mortality rates from hunger, disease and Indian attack often disproportionately affected women. Efforts were made to redress the balance: in 1620, 90 ‘young, handsome and honestly educated maids’ were shipped to Virginia. However, the real redress came from natural increase. By 1770. most of the population were in secure territory, and by the European standards of the day were generally well fed and prosperous; birth rates were very high, death rates low, and male/female ratio imbalances had disappeared. The demographic structures for the early and late 20th century, show a relatively standard transition from an industrial to a post-industrial society, with greater life expectancy and falling birth rates, which were nevertheless higher than the European average.

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