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Biodemography

JAMES R. CAREY

Subject Life and Physical Sciences
Sociology » Demography and Population Studies

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Extract

  Biodemography – the study of biological aspects of demographic processes and relationships – is unique in two respects. First, it is one of a small number of subdisciplines arising from the social sciences that has embraced biology (e.g., evolutionary psychology, neuroeconomics). However, unlike the others which focus more narrowly on biological subareas (neurology) or concepts (evolution), biodemography has no explicit biological boundaries making it not only a more all-encompassing interdisciplinary concept, but also one that has deeper biological roots. Second, the hierarchical organizations that are inherent to both biology (cell, organ, individual) and demography (individual, cohort, population) form a chain in which the individual serves as the link between the lower mechanistic levels and the higher functional levels. Biodemography is thus ideally suited to complement, engage, and inform research on human aging through theory building using mathematical and statistical modeling, hypothesis testing using experimental methods, and coherence-seeking using genetics and evolutionary concepts. In short, biodemography serves as both a looking glass through which researchers in the social and biological sciences can see each other's worlds, and a Rosetta stone for interdisciplinary communication and cooperation. Research in the biological-demographic hybrid-zone has been neglected ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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