Relation of Demography with Other Sciences

After reading this article you will learn about the relation of demography with other sciences.

1. Sociology:

Demography is a science related with population. It studies different aspects of population like its size, density, effects of birth rate, death rate, migration, etc.

Sociology is the study of social activities of man and social relations formed out of that. There are many aspects common to demography and sociology, such as size of population, illiteracy, family planning, etc. The size of population is studied under demography, but the size of population affects the social, cultural, economic and moral aspects of the society.

It thus makes itself essential for sociology to consider problems of population. While studying the qualitative aspects of human beings, demography takes ample information from sociology regarding illiteracy, juvenile delinquency, beggar problem, etc. Thus, both demography and sociology are mutually related to each other.

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Kingley Davis points out the following areas of study which require a combined knowledge of demography and sociology: fertility, population changes, structure of labour force, social organisation, family with regard to demographic behaviour, and internal and external migration.

Similarly, Broom and Selznick regard demography as one of the nine elements of sociological analysis such as social organisation, socialisation, social stratification, primary groups, associations, collective behaviour, culture, ecology and population.

Along with the above similarities between them, there are also some differences between the two. First, marriage, migration, family, etc. are studied under both, but sociology studies these as parts of a social institution and finds out its effects on social life. On the other hand, demography while studying these subjects takes into account their contribution to the structure of population and its size.

Thus sociology studies social relationships while demography studies social relations related to population. Second, sociology is a social science of ‘what is’ and demography is a social science of ‘what ought to be’. Third, sociology describes social relations qualitatively, whereas demography is concerned with quantitative relations of demographic phenomena using various methods of measurement.

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2. Economics:

Economics studies the problems arising out of the economic activities of the individual and society, while demography is concerned with the structure of population and demographic factors related to that.

Economics and demography are mutually related to each other. Demography studies regional distribution of the population. The regional distribution of population deeply affects the economic activities and economic factors of the society.

In this way, information gathered by the demographers proves useful to the economists. In the same way, economics also helps to provide useful information to demography. For determining the size of the population, demographers must know the size of production and consumption of goods and services, which come under the study of economics.

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Population growth in developed countries having abundant capital and scarcity of labour has led to their high per capita GNP. But in an under-developed country, high population growth leads to declining productivity, low per capita income, mass unemployment, low rate of capital formation and low growth rate of the economy. As pointed out by Bowen, “Population growth, size and distribution cannot be discussed rationally except in the context of economic growth or change.”

There being many fields, which are common to both the sciences, still there are some differences between the two. First, economics studies production as an economic activity of man, also keeping in view demand and supply.

On the other hand, demography studies production to know its overall effect on the quality of the population. Second, demography studies birth rate to see its effects on the size of population, while economics studies birth rate to know its effect over labour market, price, production, consumption, demand and supply, etc.

The scope of economics is very wide as compared with demography. Infact, demography is now a part of the study of economics.

3. Social Biology:

Social biology is a branch of biology. It studies the biological activities of man, living as a member of the society. It studies the origin of living beings, the place of human beings, the origin of different species, reproduction, hereditary processes, etc.

Demography, on the other hand, is the study of population-oriented activities like birth rate, death rate and quality of population. Besides, it also studies the size and structure of population, changes in population, etc.

Like other social sciences, social biology has mutual relations with demography. For example, demography studies the reproducible aspects of population and for this, theories and principles of social biology are helpful to a large extent.

Demography also helps social biology in its field of study. It studies the effect of differences in birth rates over the physical and mental qualities of the population. On the basis of this, the foundation of the science of reproduction was laid in England by Galton in social biology. Both the sciences are complementary in nature.

As is the case with other social sciences, social biology also differs from demography. Marriage is the subject matter of both the sciences but demographers see the role of the age of marriage in the growth of population, while social biology finds out the effect of marriage, relation between different castes on reproduction and their traits.

Social biology is concerned with the study of reproductive process of the human body while demography studies the reproducible aspects of human beings. Lastly, social biology is a natural science having uniform laws applicable to all human beings. But demography is a normative science in which we expect the birth rate, death rate, life expectancy, etc. to be high or low depending upon a country’s economic conditions.

4. Geography:

Geography studies the geographical features of the earth, such as climate of different parts, natural resources, people and their economic lives. Previously, we used to study physical and biotic features in geography, but now in the present era, the importance of human ecology has increased a lot.

In other words, the importance of population studies has increased. In geography, we study the distribution of population, keeping in view the economic, social and cultural aspects.

As pointed out by Ackerman, “Recent geographers have taken the cultural features of the earth, analysed them generically and genetically in their space relations and established co-variant relations of cultural features with each other and with those of the physical and biotic environment. These distributional features are common to both demography and geography.”

The population census is always done in a definite geographical area. In the population census, the study of differential and similarity of demographical aspects of different geographical areas is made. Moreover, both geographers and demographers analyse population census.

The analysis of demographic data is done to focus the geographical differential between the developed and under-developed countries. Geographers study the birth rate, death rate and migration rate. Geographers also study ethnic distribution, races, health, ages and sex.

We also study population dynamics in geography which is called human geography which includes “location and characteristics of population, spatial pattern in population distribution, and inter­relationship between population and other elements of geographic environment.” Thus demography provides the essential feedback for the study of geography.

However, there is one basic difference between demography and geography. Physical geography is concerned with natural resources, climate, forests, rivers, etc. which cannot be controlled by man. On the other hand, demography is concerned with such variables as birth rate, death rate, migration rate, etc. which can be controlled by man.

5. Human Ecology:

There is a close relationship between demography and human ecology. Human ecology is mainly concerned with population and environment. It deals with the relations and interrelations between nature in general and human nature in particular.

From the ecological point of view, people live and exploit, and change and develop environmental resources. That is why Hutchinson and Dewey characterise human ecology as “nothing else but bio-demography.”

There are a number of areas of study which show close relationship between human ecology and demography. Human ecology studies many demographic problems like fertility and mortality, uses demographic data and techniques.

For instance, life tables are studied in both human ecology and demography. Human ecologists use demographic variables as dependent or independent variables in research. On the other hand, demographers use methods, principles and concepts of human ecology in formulating hypotheses. According to P. W. Frank, “Ecology provides specific theoretical statements about human population.”

Despite the interrelationship between human ecology and demography, there are a few differences between the two. Human ecology derives its conclusions about death rate, birth rate and immigration based on the study of species like ants, flies, rats, etc. which are not applicable on human beings. Further, cultural and social institutions which form an important part of demography are outside the purview of human ecology.

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