Model-Based Demography: Towards a Research Agenda

  • Daniel Courgeau
  • Jakub BijakEmail author
  • Robert Franck
  • Eric Silverman
Part of the The Springer Series on Demographic Methods and Population Analysis book series (PSDE, volume 41)


This chapter aims to contribute to the debate on the role of model-based approaches, such as agent-based modelling, in the future of demography. First we call attention to the developments of the discipline since the seventeenth century, and we describe its four successive paradigms related to the period, cohort, event-history and multilevel perspectives. We argue that these paradigms are complementary and that demography, since its beginnings, has subscribed to the classical scientific research programme launched by the promoters of modern science. Next, we examine how simulation modelling developing in population sciences recently, may help to respond to three main challenges: how to overcome complexity in social research; how to reduce its uncertainty; and how to reinforce its theoretical foundations. We sketch a model-based research programme for demography, looking specifically at interactions between various population systems. We then show how this approach might conform to the classical scientific research programme, in order to take advantage of its benefits.


Social Property Functional Structure Population System Event History Analysis Classical Programme 
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.



JB and ES acknowledge the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant EP/H021698/1 “Care Life Cycle”. We thank Frans Willekens and Anna Klabunde for discussions and to the two anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions. All the views and interpretations are those of the authors and should not be attributed to any institution with which they are affiliated. All the errors remain exclusively ours.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel Courgeau
    • 1
  • Jakub Bijak
    • 2
    Email author
  • Robert Franck
    • 3
  • Eric Silverman
    • 4
  1. 1.Institut national d’études démographiquesParisFrance
  2. 2.Department of Social Statistics and DemographyUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  3. 3.Université catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium
  4. 4.School of ComputingTeesside UniversityMiddlesbroughUK

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