College of Social Sciences

Social Demography


Demography has a tongue-in-cheek definition as the study of “sex, death, and travel” – that is, the study of fertility, mortality, and migration. More broadly, demographers consider the causes and consequences of population change, including the dynamics of population growth and decline, and population distribution within and across nations. Social demography views these dynamics through a sociological lens, with special attention to the myriad ways in which various social institutions like the family, economy, and religion, among others, shape and are shaped by fertility, mortality, and migration, as well as the interplay of these on social characteristics like the age distribution.

Students concentrating in Social Demography typically maintain offices in the Center for Demography and Population Health, an interdisciplinary unit of the College of Social Sciences that brings together faculty from Economics, Geography, Urban Planning, Sociology and other departments throughout campus. Sociology students are encouraged to take elective courses from CDPH faculty in different departments to enhance their demographic training.

Illustrative Courses

(For current listings, contact the Area Committee Chair)

SYD 5045 Introduction to Demography
SYD 5105 Population Theory
SYD 5135 Techniques of Population Analysis
SYD 5145 Population Policy
SYD 5215 Health and Survival
SYD 5225 Fertility
SYD 5235 Population Mobility
SYO 5177 Changing Families
SYA 6933 Population Data
SYA 6933 International Population Dynamics
SYA 6933 Aging and the Life Course
SYA 6933 Neighborhoods, Stress and Health

Demography Faculty

Amy Burdette (University of Texas at Austin, 2007) studies connections between religion, neighborhood context, and health across the life course, with special attention to disadvantaged populations. Her current work focuses on religious involvement and maternal & child health, neighborhood environment and body mass, and religious involvement and reproductive knowledge among young adults.

Karin Brewster (University of Washington, 1991) is the current director of FSU’s Center for Demography and Population Health. Dr. Brewster is a social demographer whose research focuses on sexual and reproductive health, particularly among adolescents and young adults, and the changing nature of family life in post-industrial societies. Her current projects address the social support networks of single mothers and lesbian and gay parents in the United States.

Elwood (Woody) Carlson (University of California at Berkeley, 1978), the Charles B. Nam Professor in Sociology of Population, was director of FSU's Center for Demography and Population Health from 2003 through 2007. He has returned to full-time research and teaching, including graduate courses in methods of demographic analysis and international population dynamics. His research concentrates on generational contrasts in society, and on social determinants of health, including infant and reproductive health and working-age mortality. This research extends to Europe and the Middle East as well as American society.

Isaac (Ike) Eberstein (University of Texas at Austin, 1979), Charles Meade Grigg Professor of Sociology, studies health and mortality, with a particular focus on inequality and social differentials. Other interests include the demography of American Jews and applied demography. Current research includes analyzing the causes of infant death in Florida, multiple causes of adult mortality, and intergenerational linkages of SES and health.

Charles B. Nam (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1959). Currently Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus, Dr. Nam came to Florida State University from the U.S. Bureau of the Census in 1964. He founded what is now the Center for the Study of Demography and Population Health in 1967 and was its Director until 1981. Although he retired from the Sociology Department faculty in 1996, he continues to maintain an active research program, including evaluation and analysis of 19th century U.S. Census mortality schedules and an update of the Nam-Powers-Boyd socioeconomic scale of occupations.

Miles Taylor (Duke University, 2005) studies physical and mental health across the life course and health disparities, particularly in later life. Additional interests include quantitative and demographic methods, and marriage, family, and childbearing. Her current research includes an NIH-funded project to reexamine the disparity in functioning, health, and mortality between black and white individuals in later life, the causal processes that lead to differentials, and how disparities change over time across individuals and cohorts.

Kathryn Tillman (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2001) studies the emotional health and behavior of American youth, with a fundamental interest in understanding how young people’s lives unfold over time and are influenced by their immediate social contexts. Dr. Tillman’s current research examines the importance of immigrant status, race/ethnicity, and family and community contexts for educational outcomes and engagement in health-compromising behaviors during adolescence and early adulthood.