books book reviews

Demographics and statistics books

reviewed by T.J. Nelson


Demographic methods and concepts

by Donald T. Rowland
Oxford, 2003, 546 pages

This is an undergraduate-level introduction to population statistics without the statistics. Very light reading; it's intended for social science students with no knowledge of mathematics. Contains a CD with some Excel spreadsheets.

I liked this book: the writing style is politically neutral, which makes it unusual for a sociology text. Students will learn the basic terminology, there are many interesting tidbits of information, and it's highly readable. But mathematically sophisticated students will blast through it in a day or so and complain they didn't learn anything they didn't already know.

Even sociology students may feel insufficiently challenged by some sections of this book, as when they're informed on page 373 that the area of a circle is A = π r2 and that π is a constant equal to 3.1416 and r is the radius of a circle. The goal seems to have been not to scare away the student with math; on this task the author did a yeoman's job. But I suspect there's a lot more to demographic statistics than this.

jul 02, 2015