Population and Demography

I'm a social demographer. More specifically, I view myself as a health demographer. Health demography is a relatively new subspecialty in demography, concerning itself with the interplay between population forces and issues of health care availability and accessibility.

This page is intended to provide a general overview of the field of demography and to provide links to demographic resources on the Web.

Introduction to Demography

Without doing too much disservice to the field, demography can be defined as, "the scientific study of human population." Of course, this definition is so broad that it doesn't really seem to say much.

Demographers are interested in nearly every facet of human population, from the "classic" demographic concerns (fertility, mortality, and migration) to broader social issues (e.g., status attainment, household and family structure, environmental impact). In short, there are very few issues that concern humans that aren't also of at least some interest to demographers.

Demography can be divided into two general areas: formal demography and social demography. Formal demography concerns itself primarily with mathematical modeling of human population trends, such as population projections. Formal demographers serve as a vital source of information about where we are headed as our birth rates, death rates, and migration rates vary. Social demographers are concerned with the intersection of population and other "social" factors, such as race, age, and sex (gender, more specifically).

Demographers come from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds: anthropology, economics, geography, and sociology to name just a few. Most important, however, demography is an interdisciplinary field -- the best demographers are capable of employing ideas and techniques from other disciplines.

Demographic Resources

Maintained by Don Matteson
Copyright © 1999 Don Matteson.