Digital demography

Ingmar Weber, Bogdan State

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

2 Citations (Scopus)


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 [14, 42] 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

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication26th International World Wide Web Conference 2017, WWW 2017 Companion
PublisherInternational World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781450349147
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
Event26th International World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2017 Companion - Perth, Australia
Duration: 3 Apr 20177 Apr 2017


Other26th International World Wide Web Conference, WWW 2017 Companion



  • Demography
  • Digital Methods
  • Social Media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications

Cite this

Weber, I., & State, B. (2019). Digital demography. In 26th International World Wide Web Conference 2017, WWW 2017 Companion (pp. 935-939). International World Wide Web Conferences Steering Committee.