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Keywords:

  • demographic transition theory;
  • demography;
  • family change

Demographic analysis seeks to understand how individual microlevel decisions about childbearing, marriage and partnering, geographic mobility, and behaviors that influence health and longevity aggregate to macrolevel population trends and differentials in fertility, mortality and migration. In this review, I first discuss theoretical perspectives—classic demographic transition theory, the perspective of the “second demographic transition,” the spread of developmental idealism—that inform demographers' understanding of macrolevel population change. Then, I turn to a discussion of the role that demographically informed data collection has played in illuminating family change since the mid-20th century in the United States. Finally, I discuss ways in which demographic theory and data collection might inform future areas of family research, particularly in the area of intergenerational family relationships and new and emerging family forms.