A Computational View of the Field of Demography

Giovanna Merli, Duke University
James Moody, Duke University
Seth Sanders, Duke University
Ashton Verdery , Pennsylvania State University
Mark Yacoub, Duke University

With the increasing cross-fertilization between demography and other disciplines as well as changes in external demand factors, the boundaries of demography have become porous and the field has met some challenges to maintain visibility. In this paper, we use bibliographic information from all articles in the journals Demography, Population Studies and Population and Development Review published to date to survey the changing contours of the field of demography over the last 70 years. We rely on a computational text-network approach to build a similarity network of papers based on common words and cited references with which we build spatial contour maps that allow us to identify how traditional topics, authors, departments or journals span the intellectual space. Using this approach, we will assess changes in the field’s intellectual cohesion, the topical areas that are growing or shrinking, how these changes correspond to integration with other disciplines, and discuss prospects for the continued scientific importance of demography as a standalone research field and for its public visibility.

See extended abstract

 Presented in Session 27. Data and Methods