Darwin and Lotka
Population was the subject of two major conceptual developments in the second quarter of the 20th century. Both were inspired by evolutionary biology. Lotka developed a mathematics of evolution in human and other species by analogy to thermodynamic models. His theory followed demographic practice in treating populations as closed units, commonly macro-scale, and in inferring underlying processes of change from aggregate outcomes. In contrast, the evolutionary synthesis – a collaborative product of research in experimental and population genetics, natural history, and related fields of biology – followed Darwin in insisting that close observation of small-scale population processes and local environments is necessary to understand population change. Because gene-environment interactions rely on expanding and contracting networks of individuals, the populations in question are by nature open. Despite the apparent conflict between these positions, the synthesis broke new ground in the history of population thought by showing how the two approaches could be combined. Demography, however, moved away from evolutionary and population biology as a source of theory in the early post-war era, and this conceptual redevelopment of population was scarcely remarked upon. More recently, the tremendous development of genetics has recalled demographers’ attention to evolutionary theory as an inescapable element of modern population thought. This paper provides a historical introduction to mid-20th-century developments in Darwinian population thinking, and the implications of its dual conceptualisation of population for demography. Its potential importance extends beyond the problem of gene-environment interactions to many aspects of social network analysis.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Morris, Martina (ed.), 2004. "Network Epidemiology: A Handbook for Survey Design and Data Collection," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199269013, April.
- Hillard Kaplan & Michael Gurven, 2008. "Top-down and bottom-up research in biodemography," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(44), pages 1587-1602, September.
- FFF1Christoph NNN1Bühler & FFF2Hans-Peter NNN2Kohler, 2003. "Talking about AIDS," Demographic Research Special Collections, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 1(13), pages 397-438, September.
- Hans-Peter Kohler & Jere R. Behrman & Susan Cotts Watkins, 1999. "The structure of social networks and fertility decisions: evidence from S. Nyanza District, Kenya," MPIDR Working Papers WP-1999-005, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
- Malthus, Thomas Robert, 1798. "An Essay on the Principle of Population," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number malthus1798.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:21:y:2009:i:16. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Editorial Office)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.