Demography Is an Inherently Spatial Science

  • John R. WeeksEmail author
Part of the Spatial Demography Book Series book series (SPDE, volume 1)


Demography is, by its very nature, concerned with people in places, although the history of the discipline over time reveals a struggle between the desire to find universal principles (such as the original model of the demographic transition) and the recognition that spatial variation is itself a universal principle. Demography is in the process of evolving from a spatially aware science to a spatially analytic science, and this book is part of that evolution. In this chapter I first offer a general framework for the application of spatial analysis to demographic research as a way of integrating and better understanding the different transitional components of the overall demographic transition. I then illustrate tools of spatial demography by applying them to an analysis of demographic change in the West African country of Ghana, with an added focus on Accra, the country’s capital city.


Spatial Autocorrelation Child Mortality Total Fertility Rate Geographically Weighted Regression Demographic Transition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was funded in part by grant number R01 HD054906 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (“Health, Poverty and Place in Accra, Ghana,” John R. Weeks, Project Director/Principal Investigator). The content is solely the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development or the National Institutes of Health.


  1. Anselin, L. (1988). Spatial econometrics: Methods and models. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Benza, M. (2013). Living arrangements and fertility: A case study in southern Ghana. In J. R. Weeks, A. G. Hill, & J. Stoler (Eds.), Spatial inequalities: Health poverty and place in Accra, Ghana. Dordrecht: Springer Publishing Co.Google Scholar
  3. Booth, C. (1969 [1902]). Life and labour of the people of London, 2nd Series. New York: A.M. Kelley.Google Scholar
  4. Boserup, E. (1981). Population and technological change: A study of long-term trends. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  5. Brass, W. (1971). On the scale of mortality. In W. Brass (Ed.), Biological aspects of demography. New York: Barnes and Noble, Inc.Google Scholar
  6. Chou, Y.-H. (1997). Exploring spatial analysis in geographic information systems. Santa Fe: OnWard Press.Google Scholar
  7. Coale, A. (1973). The demographic transition. In IUSSP (Ed.), Proceedings of international population conference (Vol. 1, pp. 53–72). Liege: IUSSP.Google Scholar
  8. Courbage, Y., & Todd, E. (2011). A convergence of civilizations: The transformation of Muslim societies around the world. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Cressie, N. A. C. (1993). Statistics for spatial data (Rev. ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  10. Davis, K. (1949). Human society. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  11. Davis, K. (1963). The theory of change and response in modern demographic history. Population Index, 29(4), 345–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Davis, M. (2007). Planet of slums. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  13. Demeny, P. (1968). Early fertility decline in Austria-Hungary: A lesson in demographic transition. Daedalus, 97(2), 502–22.Google Scholar
  14. Easterlin, R. (1978). The economics and sociology of fertility: A synthesis. In C. Tilly (Ed.), Historical studies of changing fertility. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Engstrom, R., Rain, D., Ofiesh, C., Jewell, H., & Weeks, J. R. (2013). Defining neighborhood boundaries for urban health research in developing countries: A case study of Accra, Ghana. Journal of Maps, 9(1), 36–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ferguson, N. (2011). Civilization: The west and the rest. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  17. Fotheringham, A. S., Charlton, M., & Brundson, C. (2002). Geographically weighted regression: The analysis of spatially varying relationships. Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  18. Getis, A. (1995). Spatial filtering in a regression framework: Examples using data on urban crime, regional inequality, and government expenditures. In L. Anselin & R. Florax (Eds.), New directions in spatial econometrics (pp. 172–185). Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Getis, A., & Griffith, D. A. (2002). Comparative spatial filtering in regression analysis. Geographical Analysis, 34(2), 130–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ghana Statistical Service. (2012). 2010 population & housing census: Summary report of final results. Accra: Ghana Statistical Service.Google Scholar
  21. Gifford, P. (2004). Ghana’s New Christianity. Bloomington/Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Griffith, D. A. (2010). Spatial filtering. In M. M. Fischer & A. Getis (Eds.), Handbook of applied spatial analysis. Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  23. Jankowska, M., Benza, M., & Weeks, J. R. (2013). Estimating spatial inequalities of urban child mortality. Demographic Research, 28(2), 33–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Leasure, J. W. (1982). L’ Baisse De La Fecondité Aux États-Unis De 1800 a 1860. Population, 3, 607–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lesthaeghe, R. J. (1977). The decline of Belgian fertility, 1800–1970. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Lutz, W., Crespo Cuaresma, J., & Abbasi-Shavazi, M. J. (2010). Demography, education, and democracy, global trends and the case of Iran. Population and Development Review, 36(2), 253–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Minnesota Population Center. (2011). Integrated public use microdata series, international: Version 6.1 (Machine-readable database). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.Google Scholar
  28. Mitchell, A. (2005). The Esri Guide to Gis Analysis, volume 2: Spatial measurements & statistics. Redlands: ESRI Press.Google Scholar
  29. Norris, P., & Inglehart, R. (2004). Sacred and secular: Religion and politics worldwide. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Popoff, C., & Judson, D. H. (2004). Some methods of estimation for statistically underdeveloped areas. In J. S. Siegel & D. A. Swanson (Eds.), The methods and materials of demography (2nd ed.). San Diego: Elsevier Academic Press.Google Scholar
  31. Ravenstein, E. G. (1876). The birthplaces of the people and the laws of migration. London: Trübner and Company.Google Scholar
  32. Scott, L. (1999). The accessible city: Employment opportunities in time and space. Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Geography, San Diego State University, San Diego.Google Scholar
  33. Star, J., & Estes, J. (1990). Geographic information systems: An introduction. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  34. Teitelbaum, M. (1975). Relevance of demographic transition for developing countries. Science, 188, 420–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Tobler, W. (1970). A computer movie simulating urban growth in the Detroit region. Economic Geography, 26, 234–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Tobler, W. (2004). On the first law of geography: A reply. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 94(2), 304–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. United Nations Population Division. (2011). World population prospects: The 2010 revision. New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
  38. Verutes, G., Benza, M., Coulter, L., & Weeks, J. R. (2012). Health, poverty and place in Accra, Ghana: Mapping neighborhoods. Journal of Maps, 8(4), 369–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Voss, P. (2007). Demography as a spatial social science. Population Research and Policy Review, 26, 457–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Weeks, J. R. (2004). The role of spatial analysis in demographic research. In M. F. Goodchild & D. G. Janelle (Eds.), Spatially integrated social science: Examples in best practice. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Weeks, J. (2012). Population: An introduction to concepts and issues (11th ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.Google Scholar
  42. Weeks, J. R., Getis, A., Hill, A. G., Gadalla, M. S., & Rashed, T. (2004). The fertility transition in Egypt: Intra-urban patterns in Cairo. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 94(1), 74–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Weeks, J. R., Getis, A., Hill, A. G., Agyei-Mensah, S., & Rain, D. (2010). Neighborhoods and fertility in Accra, Ghana: An amoeba-based approach. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 100(3), 558–578 PMCID: PMC3093308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Weeks, J. R., Agyei-Mensah, S., Owusu, G., Hill, A. G., & Benza Fiocco, M. (2011). Ethnic assimilation in Accra, Ghana. In Annual meeting of the Population Association of America. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  45. Weeks, J. R., Hill, A. G., & Stoler, J. (2013a). An introduction to the “Accra School” of spatial inequalities and demography. In J. R. Weeks, A. G. Hill, & J. Stoler (Eds.), Spatial inequalities: Health poverty and place in Accra, Ghana. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Weeks, J. R., Hill, A. G., & Stoler, J. (Eds.). (2013b). Spatial inequalities: Health poverty and place in Accra, Ghana. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  47. Weeks, J. R., Stoler, J., Hill, A. G., & Zvoleff, A. (2013c). Fertility in context: Exploring egocentric neighborhoods in Accra. In J. R. Weeks, A. G. Hill, & J. Stoler (Eds.), Spatial inequalities: Health, poverty, and place in Accra, Ghana. Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Population Center, Department of GeographySan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA

Personalised recommendations