Demography and Epidemiology: Past and Future Directions


Epidemiology and demography are often so close that it can be difficult to distinguish one from the other. Is it necessary to train health demographers when epidemiologists could just as well do the job? Could researchers from either field learn something from each other? As my first post for Demotrends, I thought I’d share some of my initial thoughts.

The reasons for the similarities between the two fields, and the reason why early demographers like John Graunt, were also public health experts, are not surprising. Demographers are interested in the size and structure of populations, and the force of mortality is one of the three primary mechanisms that affect size and structure. The fact that mortality is primarily affected by population health therefore resulted in demography and epidemiology becoming bedfellows.

This also defines the difference between the two disciplines. Epidemiologists are less interested in population in itself and…

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