Demography/HDFS Dual Degree

What is demography and how does it relate to scholarly research in HDFS?

Demography is a scientific discipline which studies the size, composition, and territorial distribution of individuals and families (micro-demography) and populations of areas (macro-demography of neighborhoods, cities, states, rural-urban areas, etc.), and the dynamic processes which explain individual/family and area population change – fertility, health and mortality, internal and international migrations, family transitions, population aging, and social mobility.

There are several fields of study in Human Development and Family Studies in which demographic science can add value to individual development and family processes scholarship. Examples include:

  1. Life course developmental literature and research agendas can be articulated with the family transition literature and population event-history methodology and modeling in demography.
  2. The impacts of neighborhood, community, county/city, rural-urban, etc. population composition and institutional characteristic contextual effects on individual development and family processes research often involves population science scholarship and multi-level population modeling and spatial demography analysis.
  3. Family policy issues and research usually involve the analysis of large, nationally representative population data sets to permit the generalization of family research results to identifiable policy target population groups.
  4. Key demographic processes such as changing childbearing, immigration, health and mortality, and employment/poverty events are highly salient predictors of inequalities in patterns of individual development and family processes.
  5. Comparative national (i.e. U.S. vs. other developed or developing countries) studies of work-family or aging impacts on individual development trajectories and family processes involve population composition arguments and analysis strategies.

For more information about the Demography program, visit Penn State's Population Research Institute.