Reflections on societal change, adjustments, and responses

Dov Friedlander*, Barbara S. Okun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Building on Davis (1963) and subsequent work, we propose a conceptual framework that provides a guide for the organization of empirical demographic research. Our approach is based on the notion that changes in nuptiality, fertility, and migration are not objectives in and of themselves, but means for reducing welfare gapsĝ€"defined as the gaps between actual welfare and that which could be attained with altered demographic and/or other behavior. We clarify theoretical issues concerning three levels of analysis. At the highest level, societal change leads to welfare gaps for families and/or individuals. In turn, behavioral adjustments are made to reduce these gaps. Finally, demographic responses at the community level result when large numbers of families and/or individuals adjust behavior in a particular manner. We consider and exemplify relationships among demographic and other responses in historical, agricultural contexts.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)224-237
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Family History
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2009


  • Demographic responses
  • Fertility
  • Migration
  • Nuptiality
  • Society


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