full version Definition, Nature, Scope And Importance Of Demography Essay

Definition, Nature, Scope And Importance Of Demography

Category: Social Issues

Autor: monstr_55 27 March 2010

Words: 2933 | Pages: 12

Definition, Nature, Scope and Importance of Demography

The term �demography’ is derived from two Greek Words, �Demas’ the people and �Grapho’, to draw or write. Thus its meaning is to draw or Write about people.
The credit for fusing together the two Greek words and coining the term demography goes to Achilles Guillard in 1855 wrote his book. �Elements de statistique humaine en demographic camparee’. In fact John Graunt is the real founder of demography, who in 1762 wrote the book “Natural. and poliica1 observation made
upon the bills of Mortality”.
Definition of Demography

As regard definition of this term, the economists, geographers, social scientists and others have defined it in their own way that suits their convenience and view point. Obviously some definitions have adopted a narrow outlook on the subject while some have made its scope very wide. Some of the important definitions which have been given in this regard are discussed below.
The Multilingual Demographic Dictionary defines demography as the “Scientific study . of human populations, primarily with respect to their size, their structure and their development.”. (U.N. 1958: 3)
The Multilingual Demographic Dictionary, however, differentiates between various aspects of demography by defining separately demographic statistics, economic demography and social demography; the latter two imply the “study of relations between demographic phenomena on the one hand and economic and :social phenomena on
the other”.
Another limited view Of demography is taken by Wrong who defines it as the statistical description and analysis of human populations.
According to Peter R.Cox“Demography is the study of statistical methods of human population involving primarily the measurements
of the size, growth and diminution of the numbers of the people ,the proportions of living being born or dying within the same area or region and the related functions of fertility, mortality and marriage”
Thompson and Lewis: “The population student is interested in a population’s size, composition and distributions; and in changes in these aspects through time and the causes of These changes. Ultimately he is interested in these changes because they are related to, human welfare.”
The emphasis was on the study of(1) the, size of population, (2) the composition of population, and (3) the distribution of population.
According to Von Mayor: “Demography is the numerical analysis of the state and movement of human population inclusive of census enumerations and registration of vital processes and of whatever qualitative analysis can be made of the state and movement of population on the basis of fundamental census and registration data.”
This definition traces historical origin of demography’s a subject and shows its close link with statistics. -Although Von Mayor himself did not mention about any demographic theory, yet he has explicitly stated the importance of such theories in the subjects Demography can thus be regarded as a kind of biological book keeping, a continuous inventory and analysis of human population and its vital processes. .
Some other writers have taken a more’ comprehensive view in defining the discipline of demography which covers more clearly its nature and score For example, Hauser and Duncan define it in the following manner: �Demography is the study of size, territorial distribution, and composition of population changes therein, and the components of such changes, which may be identified as natality, mortality, territorial movement (migration), and social mobility (change of status).”
In this definition, composition of population implies (1) such traits as age, sex, race, and ethnic origin (the biological or fixed traits), (2) such life cycle attributes as educational level and marital and household status; and (3) such variable characteristics as occupation, socio-economic status, income, etc.

Other Definitions

1.�Frank Lorlner: “In broad sense demography includes both demographic analysis and population studies. A broad study of .demography studies both qualitative and quantitative aspects of population.”
2.Donald.J. Bague: “Demography is the mathematical and statistical study of the size, composition, and spatial distribution of human population and of changes over time in these aspects through the operations of the five processes of fertility, mortality, marriage, migration and social mobility. Although It maintains a continuous descriptive and comparative analysis of trends, in each of these processes and in their net result, its long run goal is to develop theories to explain the events that it charts and compares”

3. W.G Barckley “Demography does not deal with the behavior of individuals but only with the aggregates of people or even part thereof. The numerical portrayal of human population s known as demography”

4. G.A Harrison and A.J. Boyee “Populations are not merely conglomerations of individuals but rather, although to different degrees, ordered coherent systems, which have an entity greater than that of the sum of the individuals of which they are composed.”
5. H.Stenford: “In its most formal sense demography is a very technical and highly mathematical study of the vital statistics of human population(especially birth, death and migration) as well as of the characteristics of population structure (including age, sex and
marital status) as they contribute to an understanding of population change.’

It is clear from the above definitions that demography is a dynamic and developing discipline and it can be studied either from its technical aspects which involve statistical analysis of the population size and its composition and factors responsible for its growth and its distribution (which is a narrow view of the subject), or from the societal aspects which are concerned with the relationship between demographic processes on the one hand and, social, economic, political. biological and ecological factors on the other.


From the definitions we can observe that there were no unanimity of views among the different writers. Those who want to enlarge the scope can be called the Macro demographic group and those who maintain narrow view can be put in the micro demography group.

Macro Demography
Views of Spencer, Vance, Ryder,Lorimer,Moore, etc., fail within the category of macro demography. Under macro demography the writers have studied the causes of slow or rapid grow of birth rate, death rate, population growth, sex ratio and health conditions,etc.
Many economic issues like unemployment, income condition of the masses, standard of living, labour conditions and living standard, production, consumption, saving-habits, correlation between population and economic development are all part of Macro Demography Study
Social problem’ like marital status, composition of the family, growing trend about t caste, religion, education, etc , form part of macro demography. Geography can also be studied with the help of macro demography For example problems of migration, urbanization, etc form part of macro demography.

Micro Demography

According to the narrow view we study demography as small units like individual, family, group etc In fact these units constitute the primary elements of macro analysis For instance if we study the fertility rate of women in Rewa or Bhopal, it forms part of
micro demography. On the other hand, if we study the fertility of women for the whole of India or Madhya Pradesh, and Rewa and Bhopal divisions are included as units of the same, then the study will fall within the macro analysis. According to Prof. Bogue
“Micro Demography is the study of the growth, distribution and redistribution of the population within community, state, economic area or other local area. This included both numerical and composition aspects and is performed by using meaningful subdivision of community of local areas.”


These schools of thought have presented a balanced view of the nature and scope of demography. According to Thompson and Lewis “under demography we can develop the understanding of population variables like fertility, mortality, information about female population their health condition, marital status, distribution of population according to villages and their classification according to their occupation, and also to collect and study information about social and economic condition”
These days it is accepted that demography Is the study of human society and has very little to do with individualistic human problems. It takes the V use of figures and arithmetic’s. In the World Population Conferences held by the United Nations organization in 1954 and 1968 the fo1loing topics were discussed (1) Fet1ity (2) Mortality, (3) -Migration, (4) Genetic-composition,- (5) Future prospects, (6) Population and resources, (7) Techniques of measurement, (8) Training of demographers, 9) Distribution of popu1aion, (10) Family planning, (11) Population projection, (12) Demographic aspects of housing, education, saving and investment.
According to Whipple the subject matter of demography comprises of:
(I) Geneology, Ancestory and their records
(2) Human Eugenics.
(3) Registration of vital events
(4) Census of Population
(5) Biometrics dealing with the study of structure, growth and strength of human body
(6) Path metrics dealing with the knowledge. of disease and anatomy

In short, in the subject matter of Demography we study the following

(1) Size.
The number of people living in a given place at a given time, its comparison with previous period and the future projection are important elements of size of population Facts like these are sought by industrial concerns, schools, universities, hospitals as well as by demographers and other social scientists More complex issues like
the rate of change and the trends shown by these rates are also part of this aspect. The causes of change like natality, mortality and migration are analyzed with the use of biological, social, economic and cultural variables.

(2) Composition of Population.
Composition of population covers alt the measurable characteristics of the people who form a given population. The most widely used characteristics are age and sex. If other things remain the same, the population with a long proportion of men and women in the early reproductive years of 18 to 35 years of age would have high crude birth rates. Productive man power will be high in a community that has a large proportion of total population between the ages of 15 and 65. Rural and urban residence, marital status, occupation, education, religion, etc., are some other characteristics in the composition of population. According to Thompson and Lewis “The student of population is interested not only in the composition of population at a given moment of time but also in the changes �taking place in the composition, the cause of these changes and their effect on community life”

(3) Distribution of Population

Under it we study how are people distributed in the world in the categories labeled advanced urban industrial regions. The changes taking place in the numbers and proportions in different categories and their -causes are also important.
Issues-of internal distribution of population like rural farm and’ rural non-farm communities and different kinds of urban communities are also dealt under the caption distribution. Basically changes are taking place in the distribution of �population by’ the cumulative effect of differences in mortality, birth and net migration rates.’ To understand the size, composition and distribution of population, demographers must study natality, mortality and migration and finally he must search the social significance of statistics he has studied under these headings.

(4) Labour Force

Labour force constitutes an important field of economic study. Labour force falls into two classes, viz., economically active labour force and economically dependent or inactive labour force. Under the category of economically active labour force falls employed as well as involuntarily unemployed labour force. In economically inactive labour force comes housewives, students, fixed income recipients, etc. Labour force study consists of gainful worker concept, status of labour, time reference, duration period, etc.
The principle measures of labour force analysis or economic activity include crude activity rate or crude labour force, participation rate, the age, sex, labour ;force participation rates, the general labour force participation rate, the standardized labour force participation rates, etc. The labour force. Participation rates are studied separately for male workers as well as female workers In addition; demographers undertake national as well as international studies concerning employment and different kinds of unemployment like under-employment, disguised unemployment, rural unemployment, frictional unemployment, structural unemployment, etc.

(5) Population Policy

The need of proper population policy has come to occupy an indispensable adjunct o. population of planning. Population growth. Impinges on the socio-economic development of the country Population policy study embrace, Items like the philosophy and guiding principles of population policy, the magnitudes of the prob1em, organizational structure of policy frame, services and supplies, education and motivation family planning targets, family planning progress and achievement family planning expenditure, births averted and effect on birth rate, etc
Family planning programmes are evolved according to the local requirements Suggestions are offered by world organizations from time to time.


A science is a systematic body of knowledge dealing with cause and effect many definitions of science are given, of which some are given here
According to Green “Science is a way of investigating According to Karl Pearson “The unity of science consists alone in its method, not in its nature.” As Beisanz, G and Beisanz M. put it “It is approach rather than content that is the test of science.”
Scientific Method

Scientific method is a systematic study of a subject matter within a given scope. The problem to be dealt with should be clearly defined before starting work on a scientific system. Scientific method consists of well defined steps which are as follows:
(l)Observation: The starting point of scientific Systems is to minutely observe the subject matter under study. This study is conducted with the help of exact instrument of observation.
(2) Recording: The next step in scientific system is to make a careful record of the observation without any personal bias.
(3) Classification: This is the most important step of the scientific method. Under it the collected materials are properly classified and organized. As Karl Pearson states: �The classification of facts, the recognition of their sequence and relative significance is the function of science.” Classification should show the mutual relation of the elements.
(4) Generalization: The next step in scientific system is to generalize or to find a common rule on the basis of semblance in the classified matter. The common rule is called a scientific principle. In the words of Maclver “Such a law is simply another name for a carefully described and uniformly recurring sequence of conditions”.
(5) Verification: A scientific system is incomplete without verification of the generalizations. Verification of the scientific principles is necessary to preserve the scientific nature of the study.

Basic Requisites of Science

The special features of science are enumerated below:
(1) Scientific method: Scientific method is the basic ingredient to enable a subject to be called a science.
(2) Representing facts: Science studies facts. Its subject matter is based on these facts.
(3) Universal: Scientific principles can be applied at all places they are invariably true in all countries and at all times.
(4) Possibility to verify: Scientific rules can be examined at any time and their veracity could be established.
(5) Cause and effect relation: Science tries to discover cause and effect relations of the subject matter under study.
(6) Prediction: Scientific analysis can be used to predict on the subject matter Science knows that �what will be’, can be decided on the basis of �what is’, on account of the immutable and universal nature of cause and effect law.

Demography g a Science
Application of scientific yardsticks to demography reveals that it possesses all the basic elements of a science. This truth can be shown as under:
(1) Demography employs scientific method: All methods of social Demography are scientific. .To begins with. Facts are assembled through observation. Afterwards they are presented systematically and then classified and finally common principles made on the
Basis of accepted facts.
(2) Demography makes factual study: Demography comprises of Factual studies concerning population with census as the, principle method of study. Census study is based on factual enumeration of the people.
3) Demographic principles are universal: The rules of demography are proved in all countries so long as the circumstances are the same.
(4) Demographic principles can be verified: Demographic principles are true even if they are subjected to repeated scrutiny. Their veracity can be confirmed at all times.
(5) Demography defines cause and effect relations: Social demography discovers cause and effect relationship in events, social reactions
And in social facts It seeks to explain what and why of events
(6) Demography can predict: Cause-effect relationship helps the demographer to make guess work of the future and predict about Social relations events, etc can decide �what will be’ on the Basis what is’, i.e. Basis of cause arid effect relationship.
John. V Gramman said “Demography is both an abstract
Science and applied science and applied technology”
The scientific nature of demography was also emphasized by Irene Taeuber who stated: “With improved data, new techniques and - the precise measurement of the demographic transition that is occurring, demography has become a science rather than literature.” Demography employs scientific methods, the foremost of which is analysis S .N Agarwala rightly said “Demography deals with population statistics. Population studies deal with analytical interpretation of Population �dynamics and composition, which �covers a wider area. We are shifting from demography to population studies.”
The scientific nature of demography is revealed through its aims
The major aims of demography are as under:
(1) Achievement-of know1ecie of the size, organization and distribution of population related to the field of study.
(2) Description of past evolution of population in a given are and its distribution in different fields.
(3) Enquiry into trends of population and its relationship with the Different aspects of social organization in an area.
(4) Advance projection and prediction of future demographic Trends and evolution and its possible consequences.
It is crystal clear that demography performs all functions characteristic of a science such as �cause and effect relation and predict about future. It employs scientific methods of observation and analysis. It is factual as well as universal. It is veridical. It establishes cause and effect relationship. Its laws are verifiable generalizations.