The theory of evolutionary demography

James W. Vaupel, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Annette Baudisch, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

How long do individuals in different species live? How fecund are they? How big do they grow. How much effort is expended by older individuals (e.g., parents) to help younger individuals (e.g., children)? Why, in particular, do humans have the life histories we have? Such questions about the age-trajectories of mortality, fertility, growth and intergenerational transfers are of fundamental interest to demographers and biologists. Much fundamental work needs to be done to develop theory--and demographers can contribute to this work, as evidenced by contributions by Tuljapurkar {1990, 1997}, Wachter {1999}, Lee {2003} and Vaupel and co-workers {2004}. Lotka pioneered research in evolutionary demography, but following his seminal contributions demographers turned to other topics. The recent resurgence of interest in the theory of evolutionary demography suggests that this area may become one of the most interesting branches of demography. This paper reviews recent theoretical developments and suggests future directions for research.

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Presented in Session 48: Demographic theory: new approaches