Why a Population Converges to Stability

Arthur WB (1979). Why a Population Converges to Stability. IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-79-085

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Abstract

A large part of mathematical demography is built upon one fundamental theorem, the "strong ergodic theorem" of demography. If the fertility and mortality age-schedules of a population remain unchanged over time, its age distribution, no matter what its initial shape, will converge in time to a fixed and stable form. In brief, when demographic behavior remains unchanged, the population, it is said, converges to stability.

This short paper presents a new argument for the convergence of the age structure, one that is self-contained, and that brings the mechanism behind convergence into full view. The idea is simple. Looked at directly, the dynamics of the age-distribution say little to our normal intuition. Looked at from a slightly different angle though, population dynamics define a smoothing or averaging process over the generations -- a process comfortable to our intuition. This smoothing and resmoothing turns out to be the mechanism that forces the age structure toward a fixed and final form.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: System and Decision Sciences - Core (SDS)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 01:46
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2016 12:18
URI: http://pure.iiasa.ac.at/1098

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