The Academic Training of Applied Demographers: History, Evolution, and a Description of the First Ph.D. Program in Applied Demography

  • Steve H. Murdock
  • Mary Zey

Applied demography has grown substantially as a subfield of demography and may, in fact, claim to be the largest single specialization represented in such organizations as the Southern Demographic Association and the Population Association of America (Swanson et al. 1996, Swanson and Pol 2003). In fact, one might legitimately debate whether applied demography or demography is the base discipline since the development of demography has been driven as much by attempts to address pragmatic issues as it has been to address alternative philosophical or conceptual debates. Thus Malthus work although often seen as an attempt to address the broad theoretical link between population and resources was also an attempt to address the practical question of whether government attempts to limit poverty could be successful in the long term. Similarly the voluminous body of research in fertility of the post World War II era was driven as much by an attempt to manage the explosive population growth in developing countries as it was by a desire to understand the basic determinants of fertility change (Bogue 1969), and the current increased emphasis on demography and health and mortality is a product, at least in part, of the recognition of the implications of aging populations and of governmental support of research on health brought forth by public and political recognition of these demographic realities (Pol and Thomas 1997, Sanderson and Sherbov 2007). Finally, it might be argued that one of the major demographic data entities in the United States, the U.S. Bureau of the Census, is an applied demographic entity with its major data collection elements being justified by policy and administrative requirements rather than purely scientific ones.


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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steve H. Murdock
    • 1
  • Mary Zey
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of SociologyRice UniversityHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Demography and Organization StudiesUniversity of Texas at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA

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