2013 SJTU Summer Short Course: Social Demography

Social Demography

Shanghai Jiaotong University
Summer Short Semester 2013

Course description at Shanghai Jiaotong University website: http://summer.jwc.sjtu.edu.cn/web/sjtu/XJXQ/198690.htm


This is an overview class intended to familiarize students with key concepts, major debates, and recent research in population and social demography. The focus will be on contemporary trends in marriage, childbearing, divorce, migration, and health and mortality. Issues discussed will be a balanced mixture of topics of academic interest, contemporary relevance, and policy concern. Along the way, methods and data sources used in the study of population and social demography will be introduced. Readings will include academic publications that are examples of classic or recent work in key issues of population or social demography. Students should come away with the class with an awareness of the range of issues considered in population studies and social demography, a basic understanding of relevant data and methods, and an ability to read articles related to population in an informed and critical fashion.

The emphasis will be on trends and patterns in demographic behavior in the contemporary United States, in historical and comparative perspective.


Cameron Campbell, camcam@ucla.edu


The class will meet twice a week for four weeks. Each class meeting will last for three hours. The first half of each class meeting will be devoted to lecture relevant to the topic and assigned readings. After a break, the second half will be devoted to class discussion and student presentations of optional readings.


  • Attendance – 10% Attendance will be taken at each lecture.
  • Discussion – 10% Part of each class meeting will be reserved for discussions of the lecture and the assigned readings. Students are also welcome to initiate discussion or ask questions during lecture, without waiting for the time dedicated to discussion.  Students will be expected to participate in discussion.
  • Research project (written) – 35% Students will complete a research paper describing and interpreting patterns and trends in demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of an ethnic group, state or other geographic region (city etc.), or other well-defined subpopulation, using data from IPUMS USA (http://usa.ipums.org/usa/). Characteristics of interest may include age and sex distribution, marital status, childbearing, and educational attainment. For the paper, students will carry out tabulations at the IPUMS website, produce tables or graphs, and write accompanying text that refers to relevant literature to interpret observed trends. The text should be about 5-7 double-spaced pages of text.
    • Tables, graphs, and references follow at the end and do not count toward the page requirement.
    • All papers must have a reference section
    • Please begin familiarizing yourself with the IPUMS website as soon as possible. In addition to visiting the main IPUMS USA page (http://usa.ipums.org/usa/), please make sure to visit the main page for the Online Data Analysis system (ODA) that you will be using to do the calculations for your research paper: http://usa.ipums.org/usa/sda/. There is also a short set of instructions for using the ODA at: http://usa.ipums.org/usa/resources/sda/sdainstructions.pdf
    • If you are especially interested in economic characteristics of your population of interest, you may also want to consider using Current Population Survey (CPS) data: http://cps.ipums.org/cps/. The Online Data Analysis system for the CPS is available at: http://cps.ipums.org/cps/sda
    • The detailed prompt for the research project is available separately.
    • You may work together on your projects in teams of 2 people.  For team projects, the length requirement is multiplied by the number of team members.  Thus, a paper from a team of two should be 10-14 pages.
  • Presentation on research project  – 15% Students will make short presentations on their research papers at the last two class meetings.
  • Assignments – 30% Assignments will introduce students to various web resources for population and demography.  Assignments should be handed in to the TA at the beginning of the class on the day that they are do.  See the class schedule later in the syllabus for descriptions of the assignments.


Haupt, Arthur.  2004.  Population Handbook.  Fifth Edition.  Washington: Population Reference Bureau.  http://www.prb.org/pdf/PopHandbook_Eng.pdf



Lecture 1 – 7/2/2013

Sources for the study of social demography
Population growth over the long term
Population studies and the social sciences


  • McFalls, Joseph.  2007.  “”Population: A lively introduction.  Fifth Edition.”  Population Bulletin.  62(1).  Link
  • Haupt, Chapters 1 and 2

Optional, not required

  • Preston, Samuel H.  1993.  “The Contours of Demography: Estimates and Projections  Demography.  30(4):593-606.  JSTOR
  • Keyfitz, Nathan. 1975. “How do we know the facts of demography?” Population and Development Review 1(Dec):267-288. J.



Lecture 2 – 7/4/2013

Demographic behavior in the past
Marriage and childbearing before the 20th century: East-West comparisons
Household and family before the 20th century
Mortality and fertility decline, and demographic transition


Optional, not required

  • Campbell, Cameron and James Lee. 2010. “Fertility control in historical China revisited: New methods for an old debate.” History of the Family. 15:370-385. doi:10.1016/j.hisfam.2010.09.003.


Introduction to IPUMS

Assignment 1

Please review the topics in the syllabus.  Which topic do you find most interesting?  Why?  What related to that topic would you most like to learn about?  One single-spaced page.

Lecture 3 – 7/9/2013

Marriage and Cohabitation
Trends in age at marriage and non-marriage in Asia, North America, and Europe
Socioeconomic, racial and ethnic differences in marriage
Interracial marriage, educational homogamy, and other aspects of partner choice
Emerging trends: living together apart


Optional, not required


Ideas for topics for the final paper.

Assignment 2

Review the variables available for analysis at the IPUMS website.  Make sure to look at variables available for the Decennial Censuses (1850-2010) and in the American Community Survey (annually since 2000).  After you have examined the site to see what is available.  Write a page identifying a topic you would like to work on for your final paper and listing the variables that you plan to make use of.

Lecture 4 – 7/11/2013

Racial and socioeconomic differences in childbearing in the U.S.
Non-marital childbearing and childrearing
Changing age patterns of childbearing
Ultra-low fertility in Europe and Asia


Optional, not required

The West


The Rest of the World

Assignment 3

Prepare two tables at the IPUMS website using variables that you are interested in. For this exercise, I strongly encourage you to learn how to recode variables, and use filters to limit the observations included in the calculation.  Recoding variables allows you to regroup values so that for example instead of having a separate row for every year of age, you can have age groups 20-24, 25-29 etc.  If you can do all of this for this exercise, completing the project should be straightforward.  Make sure to pay attention to handling of missing values.

Make sure to read the description of the final project carefully for detailed instructions on handling variables.  Pay special attention to the discussion of recoding variables, handling missing values, and restricting observations by use of filters.

For the first table, carry out a cross-tabulation of one variable against another, with appropriate restrictions on cases and so forth.  By cross-tabulation, I mean that you should select one variable of interest as a row variable, and another variable of interest as a column variable, and use the IPUMS website to prepare a table that summarizes the distribution of one of the variables as a function of the other variable.  For example, you might choose RACE as a column variable, and YEAR as a row variable, and prepare a table that presents the percentage of the population in each race category by year.  Such table might present the % white, % black etc. in 1850, 1860, and so forth.  Hopefully you can pick a different combination of variables based on your interests.  Most likely you will choose AGE or YEAR as a row variable, and something like education, race, or some other substantive variable as a column variable, and then calculate row percentages so in each year, you can present the % of the population in each of the categories of interest.  Of course you might choose some other combination, like race and education.

Make sure to apply appropriate restrictions (see the prompt for the final project for details of using filters) so that your calculation makes sense.   If you are looking at education, you will almost always want to restrict to people old enough to have finished their education, that is people 25 and above.  If you are looking at something related to marriage, you will want to restrict to people old enough to marry, that is 16 and above.  And so forth.

For the second table, use the comparison of means, to calculate the mean of one variable according to the values of two other variables chosen as row and column variables.  Here is an explanation that I prepared for using comparison of means to calculate percentages/proportions.  For example, you can use comparison of means to calculate the percentage of people who have ever been married, according to their age and level of education.  You would choose age as a row variable, education as a column variable, and then compute the mean of a recoded marital status variable to get the proportion married.  Of course you could also compute the mean of some other variable, like number of children, or income.  You may need to recode so that the mean actually makes sense.

Lecture 5 – 7/16/2013

Divorce and Union Dissolution
Trends in divorce rates: the leveling of divorce in North America, rising divorce rates in East Asia
Racial and socioeconomic differences in divorce
Implications of divorce for couples and for children


Optional, not required

Assignment 4

Select two or three of the optional readings in the syllabus that are all on a related theme, and write a review and comparison.  What hypotheses do the authors seek to test?  What data and methods do they use?  What are their conclusions?  Which of the readings do you find most convincing?  If you were to carry out a similar analysis in China, what would you focus on?

Lecture 6 – 7/18/2013

International migration
Domestic migration, residential segregation, and neighborhood formation


Lecture 7 – 7/23/2013

Health and mortality


Lecture 8 – 7/25/2013

Research project presentations

Final project due


Information for non-SJTU students about registering for the class

Class-related resources