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The Demography of a Learned Society. The Académie des Sciences (Institut de France), 1666-2030

  • Henri Leridon
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    Most academies are closed societies: members are admitted by election and remain until their death, and the total population usually remains constant over a given period. The demography of a closed body of this kind is simple: the annual intake is strictly determined by the annual ?exits?, i.e. deaths, which is an exogenous variable. As a result, the rate of intake and the length of service in the institution are fully related, and also depend on age at election. In a context where the length of life is increasing (via the fall in mortality at ages above 60), the mean age of the population can only rise ? unless the Academy elects ever younger members, which, in turn, reduces the rate of renewal. A more efficient solution is to set an age at which a seat is declared vacant. This article begins with a summary of the main mechanisms at work in a stationary population. We then provide a brief overview of the history of the Académie des Sciences between 1666 and 2001 and a reconstruction of the evolution of its population (1,039 members over this period). After some comparisons with other academies, we conclude with the results of 30-year projections based on different hypotheses for changes in entry and exit rules ? in particular the changes resulting from the amendments to the statutes adopted in 2002.

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    Article provided by Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED) in its journal Population (english edition).

    Volume (Year): 59 (2004)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 81-114

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    Handle: RePEc:cai:poeine:pope_401_0081
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