Counting on a model method

Demography
June 1, 2001

This volume is likely to become the definitive text on formal demography. Samuel Preston has been influential in most areas of the discipline, and this text not only covers his own contribution in a systematic way but it is also based on a graduate course that has been taught at the University of Pennsylvania. The first half covers basic demographic concepts - mortality, fertility, population projections and stable population theory.

The authors have integrated theoretical and practical app-roaches by including worked applications of the methods covered, which improves understanding and establishes the relevance of the techniques.

The second half of the book includes a range of topics associated with the work of Preston, including non-stable population models, mathematical models of population processes, and indirect methods for demographic estimation and detection of errors. Preston's work integrates a number of areas formerly treated as distinct, and this section systematises and simplifies earlier publications and provides the best current text in the area of demographic modelling.

The authors state that although algebraic and calculus notation are used, "calculus is often preferred for its compact notation and for its far more extensive body of theorems, having direct applicability to population processes". This is followed by the introduction of the Preston-Coale variable r approach, which is hard to appreciate without knowledge of calculus. The full benefit is available only with knowledge of calculus.

Students who work through the volume will have a comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge of the subject and the tools to apply to new areas.

Michael Murphy is professor of demography and convenor of the department of social policy, London School of Economics.

Demography: Measuring and Modelling Population Processes. First Edition

Author - Samuel H. Preston, Patrick Heuvaline and Michel Guillot
ISBN - 1 55786 214 1 and 451 9
Publisher - Blackwell
Price - £55.00 and £16.99
Pages - 291

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