Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1996


An Introduction to Population (2nd edition)

Helen Ginn Daugherty and Kenneth C.W. Kammeyer
London: Guildford Press
0 89862 616 1 (hb)
344 pp.

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The second edition of An Introduction to Population provides a clear, well-written and informative introductory text-book for population studies, particularly for students from other disciplinary backgrounds taking options in population studies, many of whom will have no prior knowledge of the subject. To engage students' interest in population studies, the authors are primarily concerned with answering questions raised by the study of population, rather than providing a description of demographic statistics. The focus of the book is therefore directed towards contemporary issues in population studies and how these interrelate with economic, political, sociological and psychological factors.

The overall structure and presentation of the book is very good and appropriate for an introductory text-book. The text is well laid out and though there are not many illustrations, those used are clear. Summaries are given at the end of each chapter and a glossary of terms provided, though all terminology is defined in the main text. The book may be loosely divided into three parts. The first chapters examine ways of thinking about population, including: the history of demography; the collection of demographic data; population structure; and different approaches to the analysis of demographic variables. In particular, formal demography, identified as the analysis of demographic variables independent of non-demographic factors, is distinguished from population studies. Two approaches to the latter are identified: type I in which non- demographic variables are used as the explanatory framework for demographic variables; and type II which reverses this methodology. Family demography is also distinguished as an emerging field in population studies. The book primarily deals with type I approaches to population studies, and it is within this framework that demographic processes of migration, fertility and mortality are examined in the middle section of the book. All three chapters in this section are primarily descriptive, with very little discussion of demographic techniques.

The main text refers only to the calculation of crude rates and age standardization, with life table calculations detailed in an appendix. While this has the advantage that is will not put off less quantitatively inclined students, it also restricts the book as a basic text- book, as the coverage of demographic methods is limited. The final two chapters, on world population growth and population politics and policies, assimilate the ways in which migration, fertility and mortality interact to generate population growth. The first of these chapters introduces demographic transition theory and outlines the main themes of current demographic thought to explain population growth in the past, present and future, with a special focus on population growth in China. The last chapter continues the theme of population politics, outlining various approaches to population policy, focusing on India, Iran, Singapore and US immigration policy. Though the text remains fairly objective, these chapters do incline towards a positive view on population growth and policies, concluding that where there is a political will, population policies can make a difference.

The issues raised throughout the book are documented by illustrative examples. As the book is primarily intended for students undertaking population courses in the USA, many of the cases studied are from the US. For example, the 1990 US Census is discussed in the chapter on data collection and US immigration policy is outlined as an illustration of population policy in a developed country. However, the focus of the book is no way restricted to the US and, where appropriate, the authors do refer to case studies from both developed and developing countries. Though not a criticism of the book per se, the overall American bias may restrict its use outside of the USA. The book is also up-to-date in its coverage of population issues, including references to the 1994 Cairo World Population Conference. The bibliography also focuses on recent literature, especially by North American demographers.

This book, therefore, has much to offer as an introductory text-book, it is very comprehensible and stimulating to read and should generate interest in population studies among students who are new to the discipline.

Clare Holdsworth
University of Manchester

Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1996