What Is The Meaning of Demography?

What Is Demography?

Demography is a science of population analysis. It is a discipline of the study of the human population. It studies systematically the size, structure, density and composition of people. Today demography is being considered as a systematic branch of knowledge. It is a multi sociology, geography, anthropology etc. The term ‘demography’ has been derived from two Greek words “Demos’ & “Grapho’. Demos means the people and grapho means to write.

Thus the term demography impulses people to write about the people. The term “Demography” was used for the first time by Achille Guillard, a french scholar in the year 1855. He has used the term ‘demography’ in his book “Elements de statistique humaine on demographic comparee’. But systematic study of the human population is of recent origin. Demography as a scientific study of the human population emerged as a discipline in England in the middle of the 17th century. The credit in this regard will go to John Graunt, an English haberdasher. He is regarded as the father of demography.

Definitions Of Demography

Scholars have defined demography in the following ways.

W.G. Barckley, “Demography does not deal with the behaviour of individuals but only with the aggregates of people or even part thereof. The numerical portrayal of the human population is known as demography.

Prof R. Cox, “Demography is the study of statistical methods of human population involving primarily the measurement of the size, growth & diminution of the numbers of people, the proportion of living being born & dying within the same area or region and the related functions of fertility, mortality & marriage.

Thompson & Lewis, “The population studies is interested in population, size, composition & distribution and changes in the aspects through time and different causes of these changes.

“Frank Lorimore, “In broad sense demography includes both demographic analysis and population studies. A broad study of demography studies both qualitative & quantitative aspects of population.”

Scope of Demography

Generally scope implises the subject matter or area of study. Demography is at present a popular concept. Its popularity is increasing day by day. The study of population is a multi science discipline. Today demography is being considered as an independent branch of knowledge. In the beginning, demography was concerned only with the enumeration of population.

Today the scope of demography or population studies is quite wide. There is no unanimity among the scholars regarding the scope of demography or population studies. Some scholars have given their view that the scope of demography or population studies is very wide. They have given a more comprehensive view in defining demography. Others have given a narrow view regarding its scope. They have delimited the scope. Regarding the scope of demography or population studies the scholars have been categorised into three groups. Those who have given a wider view regarding the scope of demography are called macro-demographic groups.

On the other hand the scholars who have given narrower views are called micro-demographic groups. Besides these two groups another group of scholars who have given a balanced view on demography & population studies are included in the third group.

What Is Macro Demography?

Scholars like W.E. Moore, Herbert spencer, Frank-Lorimer, Vance, Ryder etc. are the exponents of macro demography. They have suggested the scope of demography is very wide or comprehensive. They are called micro demographers. Macro demography emphasises on the studies like the causes of slow or rapid birth and death rates, population growth, sex rates and health conditions etc.

According to the scholars there is a correlation between the populations and the socio economic and cultural conditions of the country. They have emphasises on some social issues like marital status, composition of the family, caste, religion, education, literacy, urban growth etc, are included in macro demography.

According to Prof. Donald J. Bogue, “Macro demography is the mathematical and statistical study of the size, composition in these aspects through the operation of the five processes of natality, mortality, marriage, migration or social mobility.”

At the same time macro demography also includes economic issues like employment of masses/standard of living, production, consumption, correlation between population & economic development etc.

What Is Micro Demography?

Micro Demography gives emphasis on the individual and the family as a unit of society. These two are small units of society & need intensive study. Micro demography is the narrower view of population studies or demography. According to Donald. J. Bogue, “it is the study of the growth distribution and redistribution of the population within a community, state, economic areas or other local area. This includes both, numerical and compositional aspects and is performed by using meaningful subdivisions of community or local areas.”

Micro demographers give their opinion that the scope of demography is very narrow & limited.

What Is Balanced view of Demography?

Besides the above two groups of scholars, the third group gives a balanced view of demography. Various exponents of this group are Lewis, Thompson, Bogue, Frank Lorimer etc. They have accepted both the views of macro & micro demographers. Lewis & Thompson have said within the subject matter & scope of demography: we can study death, birth and actual rates of growth, information about female population, their education, health condition, marital status, mortality, fertility distribution of population according to village and their classification according to their occupation.

Today the scope of demography & population studies is quite wide. It is being considered as an independent branch of knowledge. The study of population is a multi science discipline. Then other subject matters of demography include.

Size of Population

The population of a particular area can be studied in the form of size. The total number of individuals residing in a particular area at a particular time is considered as the size of the population. It differs from one to another area. Different factors which affect the size of population of a particular area are socio-economic conditions, cultural and moral values, health & sanitation facilities etc.

Demography tries to study how many people live in a particular area at a given time. The facts relating to the size of population, its comparison with the previous period and population projection are also studied by the demographers of a particular area.

Composition of population

Another subject matter of demography is the composition of population. It includes measurable characteristics of the population such as sex, marital status, education, religion, caste, health, race composition, linguistic composition, and density population. The pattern and causes of the change in the composition of the population is studied in demography.


One of the important subject matters of demography is distribution. It means the spread of population in different areas. Number of populations in different areas or regions are not the same. It varies from region to region. This in population it studied in demography. The distribution of population can be studied by dividing the population and finding out the ratio of people living in rural, industrial and non industrial areas etc.

Distribution of population is concerned how people are distributed among and within the world, continents, developed developing and lower developed countries, the change that takes place in their numbers & proportions in different categories and the different socio-economic and political causes which are responsible for such changes.

Population change

Another subject matter of demography is population change. It is studied in demography population change implies the change in the number of inhabitants of a region & area during a particular period & time. The change relates to increase & decrease in number of inhabitants.

Fertility and Mortalit

Both fertility and mortality are important subject matters of demography. Fertility refers to the occurrence of birth which is an important field of population studies. Fertility is expressed in terms of birth rate, birth order, family size. sterility and contraception etc. On the other hand mortality is measured by crude death rate and infant mortality rate.


Migration like fertility and mortality holds a prominent place in an analysis of population change in any area. Migration means change of place of liking for almost a long stable period.

Population policy

The last but not least subject matter of demography is population policy. At present it is related to the development of a country. Population policy is different from nation to nation. Population policy implies its philosophy & guiding principles. It includes the policies related to population control, family planning & welfare maternal & child health care etc.


In the conclusion we may point out here that demography at present is a developing concept. Its scope is increasing day by day. Today demographers have tried their best to touch various angles of population study. New areas of research, application of new methodology have widening the scope of demography.

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