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Social structures shaped by demographic trends

Research Achievements

Social structures shaped by demographic trends

In a highly innovative MA thesis, IGERT trainee Ashton Verdery combined applied mathematics and social demography to study the ways in which social structures at the local level are shaped by past demographic trends. Using data from Northeast Thailand, he built an agent-based model to explore the consequences of fertility and mortality decline associated for the structure of kin networks within villages. Verdery found that fertility matters more than mortality, but that exposure to periods of population growth matter more than either the timing of onset or the tempo of fertility and mortality decline. Although Verdery's work focuses on a site in Northeast Thailand, a general inference can be made. For people in modern society, the number of close and distant kin they have, as well as the connectivity among their kin, reflects past demographic history.