Craig White's Literature Courses

Terms & Themes




Oxford English Dictionary: Demography: That branch of anthropology which deals with the life-conditions of communities of people, as shown by statistics of births, deaths, diseases, etc.

Free Dictionary: The study of the characteristics of human populations, such as size, growth, density, distribution, and vital statistics. Economics: Demography is the study of the size, growth, and age and geographical distribution of human populations, and births, deaths, marriages, and migrations.

Merriam-Webster: relating to the dynamic balance of a population especially with regard to density and capacity for expansion or decline


Etymology: "Demo" = from classical Greek for "people," as in democracy; "graphics" = measurement, as in "graph"



"Demographics" less familiar to Humanities & Literature than to History and Social or Human Sciences, e. g. sociology, politics, economics.

Term enters discussion of immigrant or minority identity. Since these are often sensitive subjects, as in the 2012 presidential elections, commentators often refer to them from a distance by reference to "demographics"--i.e., the behavior, presence, absence, growth or decline of ethnic populations (including the white dominant culture)

Demographics can mean or measure a number of different human qualities or characteristics concerning a group of people

For immigrant and minority literature: mobility or movement, freedom or repression, legal autonomy.

Population dynamics: population growth, birth rate, infant mortality, or population decline; aging workforce; intermarriage

Also language and culture changes--e. g., women leaving home and entering workforce, length of schooling, delay of childbearing.


Social science term > statistics, change

Literature (spoken or written) turns social facts into stories, identities, character, meaning.