Toward a demographic theory of societal change with predictive power

Wolfgang Lutz, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

This theoretical paper is based on the idea that many key aspects of society change along cohort lines: Young people are shaped and socialized in a certain way that influences their behaviour for the rest of their lives. In this sense, societies change mostly through the replacement of older cohorts by younger ones whose personalities have been formed in a different way and who carry different characteristics. This new theory is a generalization of a series of papers by Lutz and co-authors, two of which were recently published in Science under the titles “The demography of growing European identity” (Lutz et al. 2006) and “The demography of educational attainment and economic growth” (Lutz et al. 2008). The basic idea is to apply Age-Period-Cohort (APC) analysis and combine it with the tools of multi-state population dynamics to get an analytical handle on describing and projecting the changing structural composition of societies.

  See paper

Presented in Session 24: New theoretical frameworks in demography