Course: Introduction to Demographic Methods

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Course Description

This course introduces the basic techniques of demographic analysis. Students will become familiar with the sources of data available for demographic research. Population composition and change measures will be presented. Measures of mortality, fertility, marriage and migration levels and patterns will be defined. Life table, standardization and population projection techniques will also be explored.

Course Objectives

After completion of this course, the student will be able to identify appropriate sources of data, perform basic demographic analyses using various techniques and ensure their comparability across populations. The student will also be able to produce population projections and interpret the information gathered by the different demographic methods.

To attain the course objectives, the instructor will:

  • Identify and compare the advantages and disadvantages of the different sources of demographic data.
  • Present appropriate techniques to ensure comparability of the measures across population.
  • Describe basic demographic indicators and elaborate on their computation and interpretation.
  • Introduce population projection calculations and analysis.
  • Competencies to be demonstrated by the student:
  • Identify the different sources of data and describe the advantages and disadvantages of each.
  • Define and differentiate the demographic concepts, terminology and formulas.
  • Discuss the key assumptions underlying techniques and tools.
  • Describe the distribution of a population using various demographic characteristics.
  • Construct a Lexis diagram.
  • Perform direct and indirect methods of standardization.
  • Construct and analyze simple and abridged life-tables.
  • Describe the relations and calculate indicators in a stationary population
  • Derive the mathematical relationships in a cohort life table.
  • Estimate the rate of change in a population
  • Project a population using appropriate equations and assumptions.
  • Recognize and analyze typical demographic patterns arising from the data.


It is essential that the student be familiar with algebra. Although not required, an understanding of elementary probability is recommended (see discussion in chapter 3 of �Fundamentals of Biostatistics � Fourth Edition� by Bernard Rosner. Duxbury Press). Calculus will also be useful to the student.


Shyrock S, Siegel JS, Stockwell EG. The Methods and Materials of Demography. Academic Press. 1976.

Course Requirements

At the end of each module, a set of review questions is made available. The questions are an additional learning tool testing your understanding of the concepts and measuring your progress.