Epidemics and Demography: A Selection of Articles in Population
When faced with a crisis, human societies tend to draw upon experience to understand it. The history of ideas shows how people living through major epidemics consciously or unconsciously applied the rationales and concepts inherited from earlier calamities. The COVID-19 crisis is no exception, as illustrated by the many references to the ‘Spanish flu’ pandemic of 1918 in today’s press, social media, and academic work.
While articles on the recent pandemic will feature in Population over the coming months and years, we thought it useful to highlight some of the research on epidemics published in the journal. We have selected nine articles that focus on an epidemic (and not endemic) disease and its demographic consequences, listed below by most recent publication date. Five of these articles are available in English. Highly specific studies and those in which epidemics receive only secondary or marginal attention have not been included, notably those on mortality in general, but interested readers will find them on the Population website. Numerous articles on the AIDS epidemic have appeared since the 1990s, but we have chosen just one, sufficiently broad in scope to contribute usefully to this overview.
These articles illustrate the variety of ways demographers study epidemics, from using skeletal remains to estimate epidemic mortality in earlier centuries, to examining the factors in the spread of chikungunya, and to measuring the impact of the Spanish flu on fertility. They show how demography contributes to the study of epidemics by ascertaining their extent—an important topic in the context of COVID-19—the social inequalities involved, and their effects on populations.
The Editorial Board
Le choléra et la question des logements insalubres à Paris (1832-1849) [Cholera and the Issue of Slum Housing in Paris (1832–1849)]
Santé de la reproduction et sida en Afrique subsaharienne : enjeux et défis [Reproductive Health and AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa: Issues and Challenges]
L’épidémie de grippe de 1918 aux îles de la Société [The 1918 Flu Epidemic on the Society Islands]
Chronologie, intensité et diffusion des crises de mortalité en Italie: 1600-1850 [Timing, Intensity and Diffusion of Mortality Crises in Italy: 1600–1850]