Why a long-term perspective is beneficial for demographers
Although many contemporary demographers pay attention to historical demography, there is often a surprising lack of appreciation of the demographic circumstances and systems of the past, suggesting an implicit assumption that they are not relevant to the present or that the methods, data, and questions addressed by historical and contemporary demographers are different. This paper provides an overview of historical demography as published in Population Studies and how this has developed over time. Drawing on this, I demonstrate that historical and contemporary demography use similar data sources and identical methods, and they often address comparable questions. I argue that an appreciation of demographic patterns and processes is beneficial for all demographers, even those who work on the most recent time periods, and that better integration of historical and contemporary demography would be beneficial to both. The paper also considers three challenges for historical demography as it moves forward.
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