Toward a New Conceptualization of Settlements for Demography


  • Graeme Hugo,

    1. Graeme Hugo is Professor of Geography, Department of Geographical and Environmental Studies, and Director, National Centre for Social Applications of GIS, University of Adelaide, South Australia.
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  • Anthony Champion,

    1. Anthony Champion is Professor of Population Geography, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.
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  • Alfredo Lattes

    1. Alfredo Lattes is former president, Centro de Estudios de Población (CENEP), Buenos Aires, Argentina.
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It has long been recognized that where people live and work can be a relevant factor in helping to explain demographic behavior, yet the treatment of location in censuses and surveys remains surprisingly crude. Emphasis is still being given to the urban–rural dichotomy based on definitions that most countries around the world introduced 40 to 50 years ago and have modified little since. Given the increase in the complexity of settlement systems in recent decades in less developed as well as in more developed contexts, this simple classification is no longer adequate for examining the role of settlement in demographic processes. The time has come to rethink how settlement should be differentiated in population data collection and analysis. Contemporary technologies and methodologies make it possible to analyze spatially referenced data in ways that are more rapid and sophisticated than could have been imagined when the conventional approach was devised.