Thursday, November 5, 2009

Nature and Scope of Demography


Definition of Demography

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.”

However, most of the population studies are conducted in the field known as Micro-demography. The two fields help each other, For example, death rate is studied both from the macro and the micro standpoint. Similar is the case concerning birth rate, fertility, migration, etc. The field of demography includes the subjects which are discussed in world population conferences since 1954. The two conferences of 1954 and 1965 discussed the subjects: fertility, death rate, migration, genetic composition, future probabilities, population and means of subsistence, techniques of population measurement and training of the demographers. Other subjects included in the scope of demography are: distribution of population, qualitative aspect of demographic data, family planning, growth of population, demographic aspects of housing and the demographic aspect of saving and investment. The scope of demography has further increased after 1965. The computer techniques are the contribution of this decade. In the words of Peter R. Cox: “Computer techniques, using stimulation, have been developed in order that stochastic variability can be provided for in various stages. This is a rapidly growing area of demography, and prospects of future progress are almost as important as the work already done.”

1 comment:

  1. The brief overview was great and covered a large scope even to a person who has never heard about demography can get something. Good job.
    PETER NAIBEI
    UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI KENYA

    ReplyDelete