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Demography in a new key


  • Thomas K. Burch

    (University of Victoria)


The widespread opinion that demography is lacking in theory is based in part on a particular view of the nature of scientific theory, generally known as logical empiricism [or positivism]. A newer school of philosophy of science, the model-based view, provides a different perspective on demography, one that enhances its status as a scientific discipline. From this perspective, much of formal demography can be seen as a collection of substantive models of population dynamics [how populations and cohorts behave], in short, theoretical knowledge. And many theories in behavioural demography - often discarded as too old or too simplistic - can be seen as perfectly good scientific theory, useful for many purposes, although often in need of more rigorous statement.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas K. Burch, 2003. "Demography in a new key," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 9(11), pages 263-284, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:9:y:2003:i:11

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:cai:popine:popu_p1977_32n1_0154 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Francesco C. Billari & Alexia Prskawetz & Johannes F├╝rnkranz, 2002. "The cultural evolution of age-at-marriage norms," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2002-018, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
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    More about this item


    demographic models; demographic theory; methodology; philosophy of science; population theory;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General


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