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Methodological considerations in the study of population density and social pathology


A previous study of the effects of overcrowding on social behavior is discussed and replicated in this article. Consideration of two major methodological problems — the construction of the class and ethnicity indices and the measurement of social class — leads to reanalysis of the data and to results differing in several significant respects from the original results. Although these new results do not provide a definitive answer to the question of the effects of population density on social pathologies, they do show that studies of the problem are subject to several, possibly severe, measurement problems. Until these are more adequately dealt with, conclusions regarding the relation between density and human behavior must be both cautious and tentative.

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Ward, S.K. Methodological considerations in the study of population density and social pathology. Hum Ecol 3, 275–286 (1975).

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Key words

  • overcrowding
  • population density
  • social pathology
  • sociological methodology (measurement problems)