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Historical Background

Important Concepts

Basic Demographic
Concepts and Historical Background

Data collection in demography also known as census.

A census is a procedure of systematically acquiring and
recording information about the members of a given population.
It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular
The term is used mostly in connection with national population and
housing censuses; other common censuses include agriculture,
business, and traffic censuses.
The United Nations defines the essential features of population and
housing censuses as "individual enumeration, universality within a
defined territory, simultaneity and defined periodicity", and
recommends that population censuses be taken at least every 10
United Nations recommendations also cover census topics to be
collected, official definitions, classifications and other useful
information to coordinate international practice.
Early census sees a few countries, notably The Netherlands, Denmark,
Norway, Sweden, and Finland, maintain a system of continuous
registration of their population for administrative purposes.

The system was started in Sweden as a church institution in the

seventeenth century and it has been most successfully developed.

Each community within the country keeps a permanent record of the

characteristics needed and is informed, by registration, of changes
as they occur.

Population registers are valuable for information regarding internal

migration and play as a basis for sampling for special studies, but
they are expensive to maintain and may easily become defective.
There are three fundamental precautions must be taken of before
proceeding to the analysis and interpretation of demographic
statistics takes place.

First: a clear and precise understanding of the descriptive terms that

are used.

Second: the quality of the observed data should be ascertained;

they may have errors, for example, by inaccuracy in count, by
inaccuracy in reporting and recording, and by faults in processing or

Third: in the case of data that have been derived by computation,

the process should be studied critically.

In other words, all sources of error and of unwarranted conclusions

from the data on hand should be recognized.
Some of the Earlier Contributors

Scholar Contribution
Ibnu Khaldun (1332-1406) Father of demography
John Graunt Primitive form of life table
Edmond Halley Actuarial table in life insurance
Richard Price 1st text book in life
contingencies (1771)
Ibn Khaldun
Who is Ibn Khaldun?
He was a 14th-century Arab scholar.

Born in Tunisia (1332-1406).

Worked in Tunisia and Morocco as a government administrator and

scientific advisor until he was jailed for political intrigue against king.

When released, he settled in Egypt and became a teacher and


His best known book The Muqaddimah (also known as

the Muqaddimah of Ibn Khaldun or Ibn Khaldun's Proleistory ) written
by him in 1377 which records an early view of universal history
including demography.
Although scholars recognize the contributions of Ibn Khaldun to sociology and
philosophy, little attention is paid to his writings in demography.

Ibn Khaldun was the 1st to recognize the importance of examining

socioeconomic development from a demographic perspective.

Many of his writings dealt with the impact of population on socioeconomic


Ibn Khaldun estimated that only 1/4 of the world's area was inhabited;
modern day estimates are that 30% of the earth's surface is inhabited.

He divided the inhabited areas of the then known earth into 7 regions and
observed that the population was distributed unevenly in these areas.

In his writings he identified most of the factors recognized today as the major
determinants of population distribution, e.g., climate, topography, soil quality,
and a number of socioeconomic factors.
According to Ibn Khaldun, moderation in geographical conditions promoted
population growth and population growth promoted prosperity.

He identified the study of this process leading to prosperity as the science of

Omran, and noted that populations distribute themselves into agglomerations
in order to enjoy social contacts and to satisfy their needs through the
development of harmonious patterns of exchange and occupational

Ibn Khaldun classified populations as rural and urban and further categorized
rural populations into settled agriculturalists, semisedentary livestock raisers,
and less settled camel herdsmen and urban populations into small towns,
medium cities, and large cities.

Prosperity increased as the size of the population agglomerations increased.

In the larger population clusters, basic necessities, e.g., food, were produced
in great quantities due to the harmonious patterns relationships between the
residents and the industrious nature of the people.

Consequently, the price of basic necessities was low. Luxury items were not as
abundant. These items were, therefore, expensive.
John Graunt
Who is John Graunt?
John Graunt (24 April 1620 18 April 1674) was one of the first demographers.

Born in London, the eldest of seven or eight children of Henry and Mary
Graunt. His father was a draper who had moved to London from Hampshire.
In February 1641, Graunt married Mary Scott, with whom he had one son
(Henry) and three daughters.

Graunt, along with William Petty, developed early human statistical

and census methods that later provided a framework for modern
demography. He is credited with producing the first life table, giving
probabilities of survival to each age.

Graunt is also considered as one of the first experts in epidemiology, since his
famous book was concerned mostly with public health statistics.

His book Natural and Political Observations Made upon the Bills of
Mortality (1662 Old Style or 1663 New Style) used analysis of the mortality rolls
in early modern London as Charles II and other officials attempted to create
a system to warn of the onset and spread of bubonic plague in the city.

Though the system was never truly created, Graunt's work in studying the rolls
resulted in the first statistically based estimation of the population of London.
The erudition of the Observations led Graunt to the Royal Society,
where he presented his work and was subsequently elected a fellow.

Initially, members of the Royal Society wanted nothing to do with

Graunt, uncomfortable with the idea of a haberdasher being

Fortunately for Graunt, Charles II, who was King Of England at the
time, ignored their objections and brought Graunt into the society.

Upon entering into the Royal Society, Graunt decided to convert

to Catholicism at a time when Catholics and Protestants were
struggling for control of England and Europe.

Due to his association with the religion, he was accused of taking

part in the Great Fire of London and as a result was dismissed from his
employment at a water company.

With no financial support, Graunt lived the rest of his life in poverty,
dying of jaundice and liver disease at the age of 53.
Graunts Life Table
Edmond Halley
Who is Edmond Halley?
Halley was born in Haggerston, Shoreditch, England.

His father, Edmond Halley Sr., came from a Derbyshire family and was
a wealthy soap-maker in London.

As a child, Halley was very interested in mathematics.

He studied at St. Pauls School, and then, from 1673, at The Queens
College, Oxford.

While an undergraduate, Halley published papers on the Solar

System and sunspots.

In 1693 Halley published an article on life annuities, which featured

an analysis of age-at-death on the basis of the Breslau
statistics Caspar Neumann had been able to provide.

This article allowed the British government to sell life annuities at an

appropriate price based on the age of the purchaser.
Halley's work strongly influenced the development of actuarial

Halley developed the first life table based on sound

demographic data and discussed several applications of his
life table including calculations of life contingencies.

The problem of annuities was considered by Halley on three

lives and talked about reversionary annuity on the youngest
life age after the older lives ages.

Moreover, he turned his attention to a joint life annuity on two

lives and used a rectangle with length and height to represent
lives age.

The construction of the life-table for Breslau, which followed

more primitive work by John Graunt, is now seen as a major
event in the history of demography.
Halleys Actuary Table in Life Insurance
Richard Price
Who is Richard Price?
Richard Price (23 February 1723 19 April 1791) was a British moral
philosopher and preacher in the tradition of English Dissenters, and a
political pamphleteer, active in radical, republican, and liberal causes
such as the American Revolution.

He fostered connections between a large number of people, including

writers of the Constitution of the United States.

He spent most of his adult life as minister of Newington Green Unitarian

Church, where possibly the congregant he most influenced was early
feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who extended his ideas on
the egalitarianism inherent in the spirit of the French Revolution to
encompass womens rights as well.

In addition to his work as a moral and political philosopher, he also wrote

on issues of statistics and finance, and was inducted into the Royal
Society for these contributions.

As for his contribution in demography, Richard Price was credited

with the first textbook on life contingencies published in 1771.
Concept Meaning

Sex ratio Sex ratio is the ratio of males to females in a population.

Dependency ratio Dependency ratio is an age-population ratio of those typically

not in the labor force (the dependent part) and those typically in
the labor force (the productive part). It is used to measure the
pressure on productive population.

Employment rate Employment rates are calculated as the ratio of the employed to
the working age population. To calculate this employment rate,
the population of working age is divided into two groups: those
who are employed and those who are not. Working age is
generally defined as persons in the 15 to 64 age bracket although
in some countries working age is defined as 16 to 64.

Unemployment rate The percentage of the total labor force that is unemployed but
actively seeking employment and willing to work.
Concept Meaning

Human Poverty Index The Human Poverty Index (HPI) was an indication of the standard
(HPI) of living in a country, developed by the United Nations (UN) to
complement the Human Development Index (HDI) and was first
reported as part of the Human Development Report in 1997.

Extreme poverty Extreme poverty was defined in 1996 by Joseph Wresinski, the
founder of ATD Fourth World as:
the absence of one or more factors enabling individuals and
families to assume basic responsibilities and to enjoy fundamental
rights. The situation may become widespread and result in more
serious and permanent consequences. The lack of basic security
leads to chronic poverty when it simultaneously affects several
aspects of peoples lives, when it is prolonged and when it
severely compromises peoples chances of regaining their rights
and of reassuming their responsibilities in the foreseeable future.

Population density Population density is the number of people per unit of area
usually per square kilometer or mile (which may include or
exclude cultivated or potentially productive area). Commonly this
may be calculated for a country, city, country, another territory or
the entire world.
Suppose that a country (or other entity)
contains Populationt persons at time t. What is the size of the
population at time t + 1 ?

Populationt + 1 = Populationt + Natural increaset + Netmigrationt

Natural increase from time t to t + 1:

Natural increaset = Birthst Deathst

Net migration from time t to t + 1:

Netmigrationt = Immigrationt Emigrationt