Preconference event at the 3rd Annual International Conference on Computational Social Science (IC2S2 2017)
Cologne, Germany, 10-13 July 2017



Tutorial on Digital Demography


Cologne, Germany

Monday, 10 July 2017; 14:30-17:45



This tutorial is organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Big Data and Population Processes as a side event at the 3rd Annual International Conference on Computational Social Science (IC2S2 2017), Cologne, Germany, 10-13 July 2017.


To register for this tutorial please: REGISTER HERE. (Sign-up for single tutorials may be closed if the maximum capacity is reached.)


If you have trouble registering please contact the organizers: Bogdan State (Stanford University) or Ingmar Weber (Qatar Computing Research Institute).



This tutorial, led by Bogdan State (Stanford University) and Ingmar Weber (Qatar Computing Research Institute) will review the emergence of increasingly diverse computational methods and digital datasets in demography. The tutorial will be split into two parts. The first part will provide an overview of traditional statistical methods and data collection techniques in demography. The second part will focus on current innovation digital data and methods is facilitating in the study of human populations. The tutorial will cover similar material as the one presented in at the WWW 2017 Digital Demography Tutorial in Perth, Australia, material for which is available here.

Note: No travel support is available for this workshop.



Demography is the science of human populations and, at its most basic, focuses on the processes of (i) fertility, (ii) mortality and (iii) mobility. Whereas modern states are typically in a reasonable position to keep records on both fertility and mortality, through birth and death registrations, as well as through censuses, measuring the mobility of populations represents a particular challenge due to reasons ranging from inconsistencies in official definitions across countries, to the difficulty of quantifying illegal migration. At the same time, mere numbers, whether on births, deaths or migration events, shed little light on the underlying causes, hence providing insufficient information to policy makers.


The use of digital methods and data sources, ranging from social media data to web search logs, offers possibilities to address some of the challenges of traditional demography by (i) improving existing statistics or helping to create new ones, and (ii) enriching statistics by providing context related to the drivers of demographic changes. This tutorial will help to familiarize participants with research in this area. First, we will give an overview of fundamental concepts in demographic research including the population equation. We also showcase traditional data collection and analysis methods such as census microdata, the construction of a basic life table, panel datasets and survival analysis.


In the second part, we present a number of studies that have tried to overcome limitations of traditional approaches by using innovative methods and data sources ranging from geo-tagged tweets to online genealogy. We will put particular emphasis on (i) methodological challenges such as issues related to bias, as well as on (ii) how to collect open data from the World Wide Web.


The slides and other material for this tutorial are available at: