Toward a Comprehensive Demography: Rethinking the Research Agenda on Change and Response
Article first published online: 22 JUN 2011
© 2011 The Population Council, Inc.
Population and Development Review
Volume 37, Issue 2, pages 219–239, June 2011
How to Cite
Charbit, Y. and Petit, V. (2011), Toward a Comprehensive Demography: Rethinking the Research Agenda on Change and Response. Population and Development Review, 37: 219–239. doi: 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2011.00409.x
- Issue published online: 22 JUN 2011
- Article first published online: 22 JUN 2011
This essay drafts a new interdisciplinary agenda for research on population and development. Starting from Kingsley Davis's 1963 formulation of change and response, Davis's analytical categories are broadened to include inertia as well as change and to encompass both demographic and non-demographic responses at the micro, meso, and macro levels. On that basis the essay proposes what can be called a comprehensive demography, an approach drawing principally on micro-level methodologies like those employed in anthropological demography. Like anthropological demography, comprehensive demography questions the rationality of actors, emphasizes cultural infuences, and stops short of the postmodernist extremes of anthropology. But it also takes explicit account of higher-level social, economic, and political factors bearing on demographic behavior and outcomes. The conclusion raises some epistemological issues. Illustrative examples are offered throughout to demonstrate the feasibility of the approach, mainly referring to sub-Saharan africa and the Caribbean and often drawn from the authors' own fieldwork.