The term demography has been derived from two Greek words meaning Demos or the people to draw or write. Thus literally speaking, demography is concerned about writings concerning the people. The following definitions of demography will help in the understanding of its meaning:
“Demography is the scientific study of the size, territorial distribution and composition of population, changes therein, and the components of such changes, which may be defined as natality, mortality, territorial movement (migration) and social mobility (change of status).”
This definition of demography is not sufficiently wide. In fact the field of demography changes according to time, place circumstances. This point has been particularly raised by Warren S. Thompson and David T. Lewis in their book Population Problems (1965).
Nature of Demography
Explaining the scientific nature of demography, Irene Taeuber has pointed out, “With improved data, new techniques and the precise measurement of the demographic transition that is occurring, demography has become science rather than literature”. This was also emphasized by John V. Grauman when he said, “Demography is both an abstract science and applied technology.” Demography today uses scientific methods, the most important of which is analysis. As S.N, Agarwala said, “Demography deals with population dynamics and composition, which covers a wider area……We are shifting from demography to population studies.”
Scope of Demography
The scope of demography has been classified into two sections: Macro-demography and micro-demography. While the former includes studies of systems, cultures and societies on a large scale, the later study the individual and the family as a unit of society. Thus the later study has smaller units and it is conducted intensively. In the words of Donald J. Bogue, “It is the study of the growth, distribution and redistribution of the population within a community, state, economic area or other local area. This includes both numerical and compositional aspects and is performed by using meaningful subdivisions of community or local areas.”