Does demography need differential equations?

Thomas K. Burch


The starting point for this essay is the observation—partly impressionistic—that demography as a discipline has tended to neglect the predator-prey equations in courses, textbooks, compendia, and research
papers. This is surprising, since the equations bear the name of A. J. Lotka, one of the acknowledged founders of modern demography. This relative neglect is unfortunate, since a central fact about the human species is that we are deeply implicated in nature as both predator and prey. Possible explanations for
this situation are discussed, including a general neglect of systematic theory, and of differential equations, a branch of mathematics especially suited to the statement and exploration of theories of demographic processes.

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