Demographic Metabolism: A Theory of Socioeconomic Change with Predictive Power

Lutz, W. ORCID: (2012). Demographic Metabolism: A Theory of Socioeconomic Change with Predictive Power. IIASA Interim Report. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: IR-12-009

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Project: Forecasting Societies Adaptive Capacities to Climate Change (FUTURESOC, FP7 230195)


Inspired by the work on social change through generational/cohort replacement of Karl Mannheim and Norman Ryder - who coined the notion of Demographic Metabolism - this paper suggests the application of the methods of multi-dimensional mathematical demography to forecast the changing composition of the population by relevant individual characteristics that go far beyond the traditional age, sex and place of residence. It is claimed that unlike many so-called theories in the social-sciences - which mostly are classification schemes - this model actually meets the falsifiability criteria of Popper and Lakatos that the latter distinguishes a theory from "pseudoscience." As presented here, this theory can make quantitative predictions of socioeconomic change with only a narrow margin of uncertainty for decades into the future. The paper gives two very different examples of predictions based on this theory: one for the hard and sticky characteristic of highest educational attainment where higher human capital of the future labor force is safely predicted for countries that recently experienced expansions in school enrollment and another for the soft and more volatile characteristic of European identity which shows significant inter-cohort increases that will likely result in a higher future prevalence of a European identity in addition to a national one among the electorate of the EU. This new theory has the potential to finally providing the social sciences with a paradigm with true (quantitative) predictive power for decades into the future.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Interim Report)
Research Programs: World Population (POP)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:48
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2023 05:00

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