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This means that approximately three-fifths of stone age children could not have lived to reproductive age if the estimated rate of less than .001 percent population growth was to be maintained.

Shouldn't 'was to be' be replaced with 'had been', as past perfect is used with modal constructions like 'could have', 'would have' etc ?

1 Answer 1

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It's not ungrammatical, but a longer quotation and a link to the source might show whether the meaning is sound.

Consider:

John said "If we are to maintain the growth rate, we must X."

Now report what he said in the past:

John said that if the growth rate was to be maintained, they must X.

In that second sentence "was to be" is grammatical.

That is one example, but another possibility is that "was to be" refers not to someone's intention, but to testing the soundness of a theory.

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  • 'another possibility is that "was to be" refers not to someone's intention, but to testing the soundness of a theory' - this is how I read it. Feb 18, 2023 at 11:05
  • @MichaelHarvey, Context:-Although a life span of 32.5 years may seem very short, the reproductive potential even of women who live only to Angel’s 28.7 years of age is quite high. If a stone age woman had her first pregnancy when she was sixteen years old, and a live baby every two and a half years thereafter, she could easily have had over five live births by the time she was twenty-nine. This means that approximately three-fifths of stone age children could not have lived to reproductive age if the estimated rate of less than .001 percent population growth was to be maintained.
    – Rayhan
    Feb 19, 2023 at 12:00
  • @Rayhan ... and? Feb 19, 2023 at 12:01
  • @MichaelHarvey, I have edited the comment.
    – Rayhan
    Feb 19, 2023 at 12:03
  • @Rayhan - what is the purpose of your comment? It is not clear. Feb 19, 2023 at 12:05

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