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  Demography (Greek, ‘writing about peoples’), in ecology, geology, the life sciences and sociology, is the study of the structure of human populations by the application of statistical techniques. The information which is gathered about human populations by censuses can be used to examine trends and enables social planning to be modified according to predicted population changes. The data produced are vital to sciences such as epidemiology which depend upon the analysis of trends and correlations. Studies of the structure of human communities in terms of the individuals from which they are composed became popular in the 17th century, and regular censuses in the USA in 1790 and in Britain and France in 1801. Prior to this, information about human populations was patchy and irregular, often based on investigations of land ownership and thus biased toward certain elements in society. Where statistics were collated, investigators tended to be preoccupied with mortality. Modern censuses enable the collation of much more information and can be very accurate if well designed and supported by the registration of birth, marriage and death. RB

See also population biology.



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