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 This open access volume contains a selection of resulting papers, some previously unpublished, some published but not readily accessible. 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 in the statement and manipulation of theoretical ideas, as well as for numerical computation.
Publisher: Springer International Publishing AG
Number of pages: 200
Weight: 4557 g
Dimensions: 235 x 155 mm
Edition: 1st ed. 2018
"Tom Burch's monograph can be viewed as a summary of the thoughts that he has assembled on population theory after many years of careful consideration, and he ties them not only to theory but to modelling and explanation, as well as to teaching. This monograph is an important, seminal contribution to the field of demography that is extremely well-written and organized." (Samuel H. Preston, Canadian Studies in Population, Vol. 45 (3-4), 2018)
"The book is a reflection on how to strengthen demography as a discipline and bridge the divide between formal and substantive or social demography. The book is highly recommended to anyone interested in the future of our discipline. Burch's message is of particular interest to junior demographers who wish to identify niches where innovation is needed most to develop demography into a complete science with a sound and coherent theory, a set of techniques, and data." (Frans Willekens, European Journal of Population, Vol. 34, 2018)