Introduction to Demography

lsped1211  2019-2020  Louvain-la-Neuve

Introduction to Demography
Note from June 29, 2020
Although we do not yet know how long the social distancing related to the Covid-19 pandemic will last, and regardless of the changes that had to be made in the evaluation of the June 2020 session in relation to what is provided for in this learning unit description, new learnig unit evaluation methods may still be adopted by the teachers; details of these methods have been - or will be - communicated to the students by the teachers, as soon as possible.
5 credits
30.0 h
Schoumaker Bruno;
Main themes
The course opens with a short history of how the world came to be populated. This is followed by a multi-disciplinary approach to "demographic issues", the interrelations of statistical population structures and the process of their continuous renewal throughout time. A major part of the course is devoted to the presentation of basic methods of describing and analyzing these structures and demographic processes, through population pyramids, mortality, fertility and migrations. The rest of the course deals with the major theories and demographic doctrines (such as Malthusianism, and transition), the causes and consequences (social, economic and political) of demographic development and the prospects for world populations.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

1 This course aims to equip students with the basic concepts and tools for analyzing the continuous process of population renewal throughout time, and to make them aware of interrelations of demographic dynamics (fertility, mortality, migration) and a range of contextual factors (social, economic, political and ideological).

The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
  • "Awareness-raising" of the demographic issue, through a quick tour of the history of the world population.
  • Definitions, basic concepts, brief history of the discipline.
  • The components of population dynamics and the fundamental demographic equation.
  • Basic indicators: population growth rate, crude birth rate, crude death rate, migration rate.
  • Demographic changes : demographic transition, second demographic transition, demographic prospects until 2100. 
  • Main sources of demographic data: censuses, civil status, registers, surveys.
  • The dimensions of time, a key variable in demographic analysis, and the Lexis diagram, a fundamental tool in demographic analysis.
  • Population size and structure : age pyramid and indicators.
  • Interactions between movement and population structure.
  • Mortality study: mortality table, mortality trends and spatial and social differences, causes of death. 
  • Fertility study: fertility rates, fertility trends and spatial and social differences, proximate determinants of fertility.
  • Theoretical elements on demographic changes.
Teaching methods
Lectures, and use of the Moodle platform for exercises.
Evaluation methods
First session (January)
Written exam in session, including for example exercises, graph interpretation, calculation and interpretation of demographic indicators, commentary on demographic developments using the theoretical elements and examples discussed during the course.  The examination also requires a good command of demographic vocabulary, key concepts and data sources. 
Two tests are organised on Moodle during the quadrimester. Students will have a bonus between 0 and 1 point which is added to the grade of the January written exam. The bonus is calculated as the geometric mean of the two scores. For example, for a person with 8/20 on the first test and 12/20 on the second test, the bonus will be equal to 0.49. A person with 1/20 and 19/20 will have a bonus of 0.22. A person with 0/20 has one of the two tests (for example without having presented it) will not get a bonus. 
Second session (September)
Written exam in session, similar to the January exam. Any bonuses obtained in the first quarter by the tests on Moodle are not valid for the second session. A test is organised on Moodle during the second quarter. Students who pass the test (>=10/20) have a bonus between 0 and 1 point which is added to the grade of the January written exam. The bonus is calculated as follows (NOTE TEST-10)/10. 
Other information
Course materials available on Moodle
  • Syllabus 
  • Powerpoint slides
  • Interactive exercises
  • Some explanatory and illustrative videos
Online resources
  • Syllabus
  • Diapositives powerpoint
  • Exercices sur Moodle
  • Vidéos d'explication et d'illustration
Rollet, C. (2015). Introduction à la démographie, Armand Colin, Paris.
Meslé F., Toulemon L., Véron J. (2011). Dictionnaire de démographie et des sciences de la population, Armand Colin, Paris.
Teaching materials
  • Syllabus
  • Diapositives powerpoint
  • Exercices sur Moodle
  • Vidéos d'explication et d'illustration
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Bachelor in Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Master [120] in Population and Development Studies

Bachelor in Sociology and Anthropology

Minor in Population and Development Studies