Volume 50, Part 3, 1996

Authors and titles
John Hobcraft The first fifty years - a tribute to E Grebenik p 301
E Grebenik Editor's note p 303
John C Caldwell Demography and social science p 305

This paper attempts to define the field of demography, identify the demographer, assess the extent to which demography is a social science and relate it to the other social sciences. It examines how changes in the outside world affect what demographers do and what they publish. As befits Population Studies' 50th anniversary, the role of journals, and especially of this journal, is examined. The early role of the journal and of its long-time two editors in defining the field is discussed. The interface between demography and the other social sciences is examined, as is the extent to which demographers publish in journals other than specialist population ones.

Author Nathan Keyfitz
Population growth, development and the environment

When Population Studies was founded in 1946 a main preoccupation of demographers and of the public was the prospective decline of the British population, and the falling off of its quality because on the average a poor family had more children than a better-off one. Over the course of the 50 years interests have shifted to the ageing of populations as births decline and mortality improves; immigration, immigrants being welcomed for the decades after the war, and subsequently facing hostile political pressures; environmental degradation and the spread of new diseases. The fall in the birth rate, required both for development and for protection of the environment, is spreading from the original industrialised countries of Europe and America to Asia, somewhat more slowly to Latin America, slowest of all to Africa.

Author Dudley Kirk
The demographic transition

Demography is a science short on theory, rich in quantification. Nevertheless, demography has produced one of the best documented generalisations in the social sciences: the demographic transition. What is the demographic transition? Stripped to its essentials it is the theory that societies progress from a pre-modern regime of high fertility and high mortality to a post-modern regime of low fertility and low mortality.
The cause of the transition has been sought in the reduction of the death rate by controlling epidemic and contagious diseases. Then, with modernisation, children become more costly. Cultural changes weaken the importance of children. The increasing empowerment of women to make their own reproductive decisions leads to smaller families. Thus there is a change in values, emphasizing the quality of children rather than their quantity. In short, the fertility transition is becoming a universal phenomenon, in which every country may be placed on a continuum of progress in the transition.

Author D J Van de Kaa
Anchored narratives: the story and findings of half a century of research into the determinants of fertility

This paper reviews half a century of research into the determinants of fertility. It is argued that the quest for the determinants of fertility behaviour and change during that period can best be interpreted as the development of a series of sub-narratives from different disciplinary perspectives and orientations. These are normally based upon the initial narrative of the demographic transition and usually take the form of a verbal theory illustrated by a 'box and arrow' diagram. On occasions formalisation has been attempted. Different parts of the initial narrative have been highlighted at different times depending on policy interest, improvements in technical skills, availability of data, changes in social setting, and the degree of satisfaction with the dominant sub-narrative of the day. There is every reason to believe that the research process identified will continue and will lead to a further accumulation of knowledge. In fact, all important variables have probably already been identified. That it will, ultimately, lead to a single, consolidated narrative fully satisfactory for all settings and for all time, is, however, highly unlikely.

Author John Cleland
Demographic data collection in less developed countries, 1946-1996

The evolution over the last 50 years of data collection systems in less developed countries is assessed. The progress made by civil registration systems has been extremely disappointing. Except in Central and South America, their role in providing vital rate estimates is still very limited. In contrast, the promulgation of regular population censuses has been a success, particularly in Africa. The relative merits and demerits of different types of demographic surveys are described. To some extent multi-round designs have given way to single-round surveys, such as the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS). DHS-style enquiries are particularly suitable for evaluation of interventions but are less appropriate if the main aim is to measure vital rates.

Author William Brass
Demographic data analysis in less developed countries, 1946-1996

This paper reviews the development of indirect techniques of estimating vital rates in the developing world from census and survey data. The methods considered include the following: the exploitation of age distributions using the 'own children' method to estimate age-specific fertility rates by characteristics of the mother; the P/F ratio method for estimating current fertility and its extensions; the calculation of parity progression ratios to detect changes in family-building patterns following the adoption of contraception early in the transition process; methods for estimating childhood and adult mortality, including maternal mortality, from data on the survival of close relatives; the derivation of life tables from such estimates; and the correction of death rates using 'growth balance methods'. The paper concludes with a section on possible future improvements in estimation techniques.

Authors Ansley Coale and James Trussell
The development and use of demographic models

In this review, we first examine two classical demographic models - conventional life tables and stable populations - and a modern generalisation of stable population theory; we then discuss mathematical models of conception and birth. These models involve purely mathematical relations in formal demography as opposed to empirical regularities. Next we consider model age schedules of mortality, nuptiality, marital fertility, fertility and migration that are explicitly based on such empirical patterns. We close this empirical section with a discussion of model stable populations, which are based on model life tables. We next examine the use of demographic models in forecasting future mortality, nuptiality, and fertility and in population projection. Following a discussion of microsimulation models, which gives us the opportunity to mention model age schedules of post partum amenorrhoea and of sterility, we close with observations about the purposes and uses of demographic models.

Author John Hobcraft
Fertility in England and Wales: a fifty year perspective

This paper provides a detailed account of fertility levels and trends in England and Wales since 1938, with a briefer coverage of a much longer time-span. This paper is concerned both with the measurement of fertility and with understanding the observed fertility behaviour. We lament and correct the failure of demographers to apply measurement tools available since the 1950s to the analysis of fertility in England and Wales, with a particular emphasis on adjustment of period measures and period parity progression ratios and show how some of the grosser errors of analysis and interpretation might have been avoided by earlier use of these approaches. We also relate these estimates to more recent ones. Once a clearer account of trends has been established, the paper goes on to reinterpret and explain the baby boom and baby bust. The conclusion looks at future prospects for fertility.
pp. 485-524

Author Samuel H Preston
Population studies of mortality

Population Studies has become the principal outlet for demographic research on mortality. Many of the advances in the measurement of mortality in data-poor countries were reported in its pages. It has also published most of the influential articles which attempted to make a broad-scale assessment of the sources of mortality change.

These include special attention to developments in England an Wales and Sri Lanka. Capitalising on the widespread availability of demographic surveys, articles in the 1980s featured careful analyses of the demographic correlates of child mortality. Such studies have passed the point of diminishing returns, and declines in child mortality have focused increased attention on conditions among adults.

Unfortunately, demography has not developed the means for measuring and analysing adult mortality in underdeveloped countries that are equivalent in their power to methods for studying child mortality.

Author Oasamu Saito
Historical demography: achievements and prospects

Historical demography as a separate discipline came into existence when family reconstruction was first developed for the analysis of a pre-transition population. This paper assesses the significant achievements made in this field of population studies since then. Attention is also paid to equally significant findings obtained from aggregative analysis based on back projection, and to a large body of research results for the period of the demographic transition.

In the last part of the paper, new research directions are discussed. Data issues as well as methodological ones are raised. Special attention is given to newly emerging Asian historical demography where different source materials require different methods and techniques, which in turn are expected to broaden the scope of the so far disproportionality fertility-oriented field. Finally, discussions are extended to economic, cultural and institutional aspects of the subject, with a plea not to isolate demographic analysis from other branches of historical research.
pp. 537-553