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Demography as a spatial social science

Paul R. Voss, University of Wisconsin at Madison

Many social scientists have taken note of the re-emerging interest in issues concerning social processes embedded within a spatial context. While some argue that this awakening is refreshing and new, I demonstrate that spatially focused demographic theories and research agendas clearly predate contemporary interest in these topics. I further assert that recent methodological advancements have merely encouraged and brought refinement to the expanding body of spatially oriented population research – research strongly rooted in earlier tradition and practice. I discuss the emergence in the 1950s of a micro-oriented demography and close the paper by discussing the important recent role played by methods of multilevel modelling (hierarchical linear modelling) in bridging the 50-year-old split between micro-level and macro-level demography by introducing techniques which simultaneously consider individual (family or household) variation in demographic attributes or behaviour as well as the broader geographic contexts in which individual demographic action occurs.

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Presented in Session 121: Spatial demography including modelling