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Biodemography: An Introduction to Concepts and Methods

Biodemography: An Introduction to Concepts and Methods PDF

Author: James R. Carey, Deborah Roach

Publisher: Princeton University Press


Publish Date: January 7, 2020

ISBN-10: 0691129002

Pages: 480

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

Demography is the taproot of an interdisciplinary tree containing multiple branches whose demographic topics range from health, disease, marriage, and fertility to anthropology, population biology, paleontology, history, and education. Our book now adds a new branch to this tree— biodemography.
We have two major goals for this book. The first is to collate, merge, integrate, and synthesize the key lit er a ture from two epistemological domains concerned with demog-raphy. The first domain is the taproot itself; that is, mainstream human demography. This domain constitutes a field that straddles the social and formal sciences and serves as the primary pedagogical foundation for our book. The second domain is the emerging branch of demography that makes our book biodemography. That is the lit er a ture concerned with demographic concepts on or related to biology, includ-ing ecol ogy and population biology of plants and animals, biogerontology, epidemi-ology, and biomedicine as well as the more applied areas such as wildlife biology, invasion biology, pest management, and conservation.
Our second goal is revealed in the book’s subtitle, Introduction to Concepts and Methods, where our aim is to include the conceptual under pinnings for all demo-graphic methods. Whereas the conceptual aspects serve as the basic ideas and then situate these ideas into demographic contexts, the methodological components pro-vide a complementary operational framework. For example, life tables are useful for summarizing the actuarial properties of cohorts. But without a deeper appreciation of the under lying concepts of mortality, survival, risk, life- years, and life expectancy, life tables themselves are dry accounting tools at best and simple “cookbooks” at worst. Likewise, observing the ergodic dynamics of stable population theory using Leslie matrix population projections deepens an understanding of the formal math-ematical properties that underlie these projections.

One goal we do not have for this book is to make any attempt to match, much less supersede, the scope or mathematical sophistication of any of the number of truly remarkable textbooks, reference books, handbooks, or book series in main-stream ( human) demography. Rather, we strongly recommend that readers seek out these sources in order to both deepen and broaden their knowledge of demographic concepts and methods. A particularly deep source for demographic information is the awe- inspiring 140- chapter, four- volume series titled Demography: Analy sis and Synthesis— A Treatise in Population edited by Graziella Caselli, Jacques Vallin, and Guillaume Wunsch (2006a). Other excellent sources of demographic concepts, mod-els, methods, and techniques include two textbooks, one by Samuel Preston, Patrick Heuveline, and Michel Guillot titled Demography: Mea sur ing and Modeling Popu-lation Pro cesses (2001) and the other by Dudley Poston and Leon Bouvier titled Population and Society: An Introduction to Demography (2010). The book by Ken-neth Wachter (2014) titled Essential Demographic Methods is an excellent source for clear, succinct pre sen ta tions of basic demographic concepts. Nathan Keyfitz’s book Applied Mathematical Demography, the third edition of which was coauthored with Hal Caswell, is a trea sure trove of demographic models and ideas (2010). Excel-lent edited books on demography include the 22- chapter book edited by Jacob Siegel and David Swanson titled The Methods and Material of Demography (2004) and the 28- chapter Handbook of Population edited by Dudley Poston and Michael Micklin (2005). The book by Frans Willekens titled Multistate Analy sis of Life Histories with R (2014) is one of a number of excellent more specialized books in the Springer Series on Demographic Methods and Population Analy sis, which is edited by Kenneth Land.

Organ ization of the Book

There are 11 chapters that we separate into two parts. The first part (chapters 1–7) consists of chapters covering more traditional (albeit biologically oriented) demo-graphic content that is considered standard fare among mainstream demographers. Chapter 1 contains the demographic basics and foundational concepts, such as life course, rates, and Lexis diagrams. Chapter 2 contains life table concepts and meth-ods, including construction of period, cohort, and abridged tables. Chapter 3 covers the basics of mortality, including its importance in demography, derivation of the force of mortality, mortality metrics, the main mortality models, demographic hetero-geneity, and se lection. Chapter 4 contains basic information on reproduction, rang-ing from age- specific and lifetime birth metrics to reproductive heterogeneity, parity progression, and fertility models. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 cover population concepts and methods. The first of these introduces stable population theory, including Lotka and Leslie models; the next introduces stage- based matrix models, including the Lefkovitch model, and considers life table– stable theory congruency; and the last considers extensions of stable theory, such as two- sex and stochastic models.

In the second part (chapters 8–11) we move from the foundational concepts of demography to topics focused on areas that are either more specialized, more bio-logically relevant, more novel, or more idiosyncratic. This content includes chapter 8 on human demography, which summarizes vari ous aspects of human demography as well as includes topics that are often not covered in books on general human demography, such as family demography and kinship. This is followed by chapters 9 and 10 on applied demography. Chapter 11 then contains descriptions of, and solu-tions to, demographic questions that we refer to as “demographic shorts.” These narratives include a wide range of demographic concepts that are novel, heuristic, inherently in ter est ing, thought provoking, or too mathematically complex for other chapters, but they are nonetheless relevant to our larger goals.

We complete the book with four appendixes, including appendix I on data visual-ization for demographic data, appendix II on demographic storytelling, appendix III that pre sents ten visualization rules of thumb, and appendix IV on data management.

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