Opening lecture by George Alter (University of Michigan)

From Data Scarcity to Data Abundance: The Role of Demographic Models in Historical Demography

Abstract: Historical demography is in the midst of a transition from a data-poor to a data-rich environment. Previous generations relied on demographic models to squeeze as much information as possible from the small amounts of data available. Today we live in a new era of large data sets.  Researchers are creating both regional and international historical data sets of unprecedented size and depth. Reflecting on the evolution of methods and data, I argue that demographic models are still essential for pursuing historical demographic research.  As we transition to new methods, demographic insight must inform our analyses and enrich our conclusions.