Anthropological Demography and Life History



FALL 2011, T R 9:30-10:45pm



Office: 2059 HSSB; Phone: 893-2202†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

Office hours: T R 11-noon, or by appointment

Class website:


Texts: 1) Yawkey, D. Anderton, D., Lundquist, J.H. (2001) Study of Human Populations. Third Edition. [YAL]

2) Packet of readings (available here online - no need to buy a reader!)

3) GRAD students: Preston, S. 2001. Demography: measuring and modeling population processes. Blackwell Publishers.

(Order from


Course requirements: [TOTAL 340 points]

1) Take-home exam (two-thirds-term). (100 pts)

2) Final Research project. (75 pts);     Click here for link on general guidelines for writing research papers.

3) Homework problems. (100 pts)

4) Readings: Each class will usually have one or two articles or book chapters that you should read before coming to class. It is critical that you read these to be able to participate in class discussions! Pop quizzes. (45 pts)

5) Attendance/Class Discussion. (20 pts)

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Course objective:

This course introduces students to anthropological applications of demography and life history theory. Demography is the study of population structure and dynamics, as revealed through birth, death, and migration processes. Life history theory (LHT) is the study of the timing of development, reproduction, and mortality throughout the life course. LHT is a core component of evolutionary biology and uses demographic methods because evolutionary ďfitnessĒ is a product of mortality and fertility. We will study the methods of these disciplines, and apply them to understand important issues relevant to anthropologists and biologists. We will focus on ecological approaches to the study of population dynamics in small- and large-scale societies, proximate mechanisms influencing birth and death processes, the human population bomb, and policy implications associated with changing patterns of fertility, mortality and consumption. This course is an upper-division class most appropriate for students in biological anthropology, scientific cultural anthropology, environmental studies, biology, human geography and economics. Graduate students are welcome to join the class but are expected to read more, will have different homework, and must produce a higher quality final project.


Course prerequisites:

1)      Students should have taken ANTH 5 or 7, 123MG or an equivalent course.

2)      Students must not be afraid of numbers or their graphical representation. You will be using math (mostly algebra) in this course. Competency in algebra is required, and in calculus a plus! You will also experience many graphical representations of data. Most of the homeworks will require you to engage in quantitative analysis with the goal of answering a question. Finally, this class emphasizes scientific reasoning and evolutionary logic!

3)      No slackers please.


Class policies (READ VERY CAREFULLY):

1)      The readings and lectures complement one another, but do not duplicate each other. You must attend the lectures and do the readings to do well in the class.†No one has received an A in this class who did not regularly attend class.

2)      Attendance is essential to gain a full understanding of the course content. Your education is your responsibility. In order to get the most out of this class: attend lectures, do the reading, and thoughtfully complete the exams and exercises.

3)      If you ever have questions I encourage you to visit me during office hours, or we can set up an appointment. Iím always eager to help students in need but you must take the initiative to meet with me. Also, I donít answer big questions by email, and will not respond to emails sent the night before an assignment is due.

4)      Arriving on time to class is also critical. Students should arrive on time to class. Arriving late is a disruption to other students and to the professor. Two latenesses count as an absence from class. One unexcused absence is allowed. If you must be absent from class, you must notify me before the class when you will be absent. If you are going to be absent, you are responsible for finding out what you missed from other classmates. Saying you were not in class and therefore didnít know about an assignment or exam will not be accepted as an excuse. No exceptions. No make-ups are allowed if notification occurs AFTER the exam or assignment was turned in. Without notification all absences are counted as unexcused. Unexcused absences can result in grade reduction (A to A-, B+ to B, etc.).

5)      You are encouraged to be self-reliant and to take good notes. This will help you study for the mid-term.

6)      The exam and project must be returned at the scheduled time. Each late day will result in 10 points reduction.

7) Students should be aware of University policies on plagiarism. Plagiarism in any form can result in temporary expulsion. And remember that Wikipedia and non-scholarly websites are not valid bibliographic sources for papers written in this class.

8) Turn your cellphones off before class. Absolutely no texting allowed in class. No Facebook or other social networking sites!

9 )   The class schedule is flexible and WILL change. Do not panic. I will insert movies and guest lectures, as needed. For these reasons, the dates given below are only tentative. Readings and homework assignments for the next couple of classes will always be repeated at the beginning of class.



Estimated Date Class Lecture Readings
Sept 22 1. Introduction - Why study demography?

YAL Ch. 1; Roth Ch. 1 ; 7 billion?

Sept 27 2. Models, methods, and concepts; life history theory

YAL Ch. 2; Hill 1993; GRAD: Metcalf & Pavard 2007

Sept 29 3. Censuses, age/sex profiles, sex ratio

YAL Ch. 4; <see relevant links on simulations below!>; GRAD: Preston Ch. 2

Oct 4 5. Paleodemography Walker 1995; Wood et al. 1992; GRAD: Wright and Yoder 2003; Konigsberg and Frankenberg 1994 (optional)
Oct 6 6. Measuring Fertility YAL Ch. 7; GRAD: Preston Ch. 5
Oct 11, 13 7. Natural fertility populations Wood 1990; GRAD: Strassman & Warner 1998; Valeggia & Ellison 2009
Oct 18 8. Issues I: Family planning

Remez 1999; Bankole and Singh 1998; Martin and Juarez 1995 ; GRAD: Ezeh 1993

Oct 20, 25 9. Issues II: Demographic transition and below-transition fertility Kaplan et al. 2002; Borgerhoff-Mulder 1998; why we quit college; GRAD: Luttbeg et al. 2000

Oct 27

10. Films: Population Transition in Italy and Marriages Made in Heaven  
Nov 1 11. Issues III: Teenage Pregnancy Geronimus 1996; global teen preg (optional) GRAD: Kramer 2009
Nov 3, 8 12. Survivorship and mortality profiles, life tables YAL Ch. 5; GRAD: Preston Ch. 3, 4
Nov 10, 15 13. Morbidity and health, epidemiological transition YAL Ch. 6; Armelagos et al. 2005 ; Feinlab 2008; GRAD: Gage 2005
Nov 17, 22 14. Population growth and regulation Krebs Ch. 12; YAL Ch. 3; Cohen 1995; Wood 1998; GRAD: Hamilton et al. 2009
Nov 29 15. Issues IV - Population growth Bongaarts 1994; Schneider 1999; Pop'n decline?; Pop'n and environment; GRAD: Olshansky et al. 2005; Preston 2005
Nov 29 TAKE-HOME EXAM - due in one week  
Dec 1 17. Film: Six Billion and Beyond  
  18. Stable population theory Hinde Ch. 12, 13
  19. Issues V - Women's rights Low 2005; Olenick 1998

Dec 6

Presentation of Final Projects 8-11am

  Note on Final Project: You have several options for a final project: (1) ~10 pg paper on a demography-related topic; this should still attempt to answer a research question but will involve using others' analyses and results rather than doing primary analysis yourself; (2) quantitative analysis of existing dataset(s) that attempts to answer a non-trivial demography-informed research question; (3) conduct your own survey and analyze results meant to answer a research question. If doing option 2 or 3, you'll need to write up a scientific report (Question, Method, Results, Discussion). Topic should be pre-approved by Nov 15.

Brief List of Internet Demography Resources (This is just to get you started... EXPLORE!!!)

2010 World Population Data Sheet



Demography journals [need UCSB or proxy server]

(Demography, Population and Development Review, International Family Planning Perspectives, Population Studies, Population and Environment, etc.)


  Demographic Research [free access]


Data analysis and datasets


Google Public Data Explorer


US Census Bureau

US Census Bureau International Database - e.g. Pop'n Pyramids


National Survey of Families and Households


Demographic and Health Surveys


UNESCO Institute for Statistics


Human Mortality Database


Agta Demographic Database


Rob Walker's Comparative Human Life History Database


GIS and Population Science at UCSB


Census Bureau - International Database

Carolina Population Center Virtual Data Library

Gapminder "unveiling the beauty of statistics for a fact-based world view"  


Demography Meta-links:


Internet Resources for Demography

Internet Guide to Demography and Population Studies

Penn State ís Population Research Institute


Center for Demography-UC Berkeley


U. Wisconsin Center for Demography and Ecology


U Michigan Population Studies Center


Cal State Fullerton World Population Sources



World and U.S. Population Clocks


Population Connection


AIDS simulation of demographic effects


Population Reference Bureau