Another collaborative paper is now under review — this one a lengthy discussion of the future of demography called “From the past to the future of demography”. There were four of us on this one: myself, Jakub Bijak, Daniel Courgeau and Robert Franck. We submitted it to Population and Development Review — first we have to undergo a two-month-long preliminary review process, followed by a full review that could take several more months! Hopefully the demography community finds it to be worth the wait 🙂
This paper aims to contribute to the debate on the future of demography. First we call attention to the developments of the discipline since the XVIIth century, and we describe its four successive paradigms related to the period, cohort, event-history and multilevel perspectives. We argue that these paradigms are complementary and that demography, since its beginnings, has subscribed to the classical scientific research programme launched by the promoters of modern science. Next we examine how simulation modelling may respond to three main challenges: how to overcome complexity in social research; how to reduce its uncertainty; and how to reinforce its theoretical foundations. We sketch a new paradigm for demography, system-based modelling, looking at interactions between various population systems. We then show how this new paradigm might conform to the classical scientific research programme, in order to take advantage of its benefits. We conclude with a tentative programme for the future of demography.