Population Studies at 75 years: An empirical review

Melinda C Mills, Charles Rahal

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Population Studies advances research on fertility, mortality, family, migration, methods, policy, and beyond, yet it lacks a recent, rigorous review. We examine all papers published between 1947 and 2020 (N = 1,901) and their authors, using natural language processing, social network analysis, and mixed methods that combine unsupervised machine learning with qualitative coding. After providing a brief history, we map the evolution in authorship and papers towards shorter, multi-authored papers, also finding that females comprise 33.5 per cent of authorship across the period under study, with varied sex ratios across topics. Most papers examine fertility, mortality, and family, studying groups and change, but topics vary over time. Children are rarely studied, and research on women focuses on family planning, fertility decline, and unions, whereas key domains for research on men are migration, historical demography (war, famine), and employment. Research on Africa and Asia focuses on family planning, with work on fertility decline concentrated on North America and Europe, consistent with theories of demographic transition. Our resulting discussion identifies future directions for demographic research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-25
Number of pages19
JournalPopulation Studies
Issue numbersup1
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Birth Rate
  • Child
  • Demography
  • Developing Countries
  • Family Planning Services
  • Fertility
  • Humans
  • Mortality
  • Population Dynamics


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