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A Global History of Historical Demography

Half a Century of Interdisciplinarity

Edited By Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux, Ioan Bolovan and Sølvi Sogner

At the XXIst World Congress of the International Committee of Historical Sciences (ICHS/CISH) in 2010 in Amsterdam, the International Commission for Historical Demography (ICHD) decided to write an overview of its own history. Fifty years had gone by since the CISH XIst World Congress in Stockholm 1960, when historians took the first tentative initiatives to create a wholly new interdisciplinary commission for historical demography, a meeting place for a budding discipline where researchers in letters and science could meet, exchange ideas, cultivate and develop a new field. This book is the outcome of that decision.

Demography, past, present and future is a common concern for all inhabitants of this planet. The variation is great, however, with regard to sources, social and political conditions, state of the art, technological development, national and local initiatives. In the course of half a century many changes take place. Keeping abreast of the gigantic streams of information and innovation in the field is demanding, even more so for a discipline with global dimensions and ambitions. The book makes fascinating reading, and preparing it has been a rewarding and thought provoking experience. The thirty-seven articles in the book represent as many different stories.

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5. A Short History of Historical Demography in Austria. From a Population Issue to Special Scientific Discipline


A Short History of Historical Demography in Austria

From Population Issue to Specialized Scientific Discipline


Definitions of Historical Demography

Historical Demography is the quantitative study of the size and structure of past populations, the components of population change (fertility, mortality, and migration), and the factors that influenced them. In its broadest sense, historical demography covers the entire history of the human species, but for prehistoric populations, estimates of population size and structure must rely on intelligent guesswork, based on archaeological studies of material remains such 2008 as skeletons, dwellings, and cooking utensils (Kirsch 2002, article “Historical demography”).

Historical Demography is the study of the size and structure of past populations and of the historical relationship between demographic, economic, and social changes. Measuring the demographic characteristics of populations prior to the advent of the census and national vital registration presents a major challenge since available data are often fragmentary (Scott and Marshall 1998, article “Historical demography”).

Let us add our own to these definitions: Historical Demography addresses demographic behavior, structures and patterns, problems and solutions among humans in the societies of the past, understood as former present times. ← 117 | 118 →

Population and the State (1870–1918)

How to Be and to Remain a Great Nation

Historical demography in Austria can be traced back to the 1870s, when we can observe a strong scientific impetus, striving towards objectivity, careful...

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