Model-Based Demography: Essays on Integrating Data, Technique and Theory

Model-Based Demography: Essays on Integrating Data, Technique and Theory

By Thomas K. Burch
Book Description

Late in a career of more than sixty years, Thomas Burch, an internationally known social demographer, undertook a wide-ranging methodological critique of demography. This open access volume contains a selection of resulting papers, some previously unpublished, some published but not readily accessible [from past meetings of The International Union for the Scientific Study of Population and its research committees, or from other small conferences and seminars]. Rejecting the idea that demography is simply a branch of applied statistics, his work views it as an autonomous and complete scientific discipline. When viewed from the perspective of modern philosophy of science, specifically the semantic or model-based school, demography is a balanced discipline, with a rich body of techniques and data, but also with more and better theories than generally recognized. As demonstrated in this book, some demographic techniques can also be seen as theoretical

models, and some substantive/behavioral models, commonly rejected as theory because of inconsistent observations, are now seen as valuable theoretical models, for example demographic transition theory. This book shows how demography can build a strong theoretical edifice on its broad and deep empirical foundation by adoption of the model-based approach to science. But the full-fruits of this approach will require demographers to make greater use of computer modeling [both macro- and micro-simulation], in the statement and manipulation of theoretical ideas, as well as for numerical computation.

This book is open access under a CC BY license.

Table of Contents
  • Cover
  • Frontmatter
  • 1. A Model-Based View of Demography
    • 1. Demography in a New Key: A Theory of Population Theory
    • 2. Data, Models, Theory and Reality: The Structure of Demographic Knowledge
    • 3. Computer Modeling of Theory: Explanation for the Twenty-First Century
    • 4. Computer Simulation and Statistical Modeling: Rivals or Complements?
    • 5. Does Demography Need Differential Equations?
  • 2. Some Demographic Models Re-visited
    • 6. Theory, Computers and the Parameterization of Demographic Behavior
    • 7. Estimating the Goodman, Keyfitz and Pullum Kinship Equations: An Alternative Procedure
    • 8. The Life Table as a Theoretical Model
    • 9. Cohort Component Projection: Algorithm, Technique, Model and Theory
    • 10. The Cohort-Component Population Projection: A Strange Attractor for Demographers
  • 3. Teaching Demography
    • 11. Teaching Demography: Ten Principles and Two Rationales
    • 12. Teaching the Fundamentals of Demography: A Model-Based Approach to Fertility
    • 13. On Teaching Demography: Some Non-traditional Guidelines
  • 4. Conclusion
    • 14. Concluding Thoughts
  • Backmatter
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