Coale, Ansley Johnson
COALE, ANSLEY JOHNSON
American demographer Ansley Johnson Coale was educated entirely at Princeton University (where he earned a B.A., M.A., and Ph.D.) and spent his entire academic career at its Office of Population Research, serving as director from 1959 to 1975. He served as president of the Population Association of America from 1967 to 1968 and as president of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population from 1977 to 1981.
He was remarkably prolific, publishing more than 125 books and articles on a wide variety of demographic topics. He also trained and served as mentor to many students who later became leaders in the field.
His first influential work was Population Growth and Economic Development in Low-Income Countries (1958), coauthored with the economist Edgar Hoover. The results, which showed that slowing population growth could enhance economic development, had a major impact on public policy and set the research agenda in this field. This was followed by Regional Model Life Tables and Stable Populations (1966), coauthored with Paul Demeny. These model life tables established new empirical regularities and proved invaluable in the development of later techniques for estimating mortality and fertility in populations with inaccurate or incomplete data. Coale, along with demographer William Brass (1921–1999), pioneered the development and use of these techniques, first explicated in the United Nations manual Methods of Estimating Basic Demographic Measures from Incomplete Data (Coale and Demeny, 1967), and in The Demography of Tropical Africa (1968).
Coale was an accomplished mathematician (he taught radar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during World War II), and his The Growth and Structure of Human Populations (1972) is an essential textbook in formal demography. The publication of this book was more remarkable in view of the circumstance that the original source materials (notes, hand-drawn figures, tables), carefully collected over the course of many years, were accidentally discarded by a new custodian who did not recognize their significance; everything had to be reconstructed from scratch.
Perhaps Coale's major scientific contribution was to the understanding of the demographic transition. He was the intellectual architect of the European Fertility Project, which examined the historical decline of marital fertility in Europe. Initiated in 1963, the Project eventually resulted in the publication of eight major country monographs and a concluding volume, The Decline of Fertility in Europe (1986), edited by Coale and Susan Watkins, summarizing the change in childbearing over a century in 700 provinces in Europe.
selected works by ansley j. coale.
Brass, William, Ansley J. Coale, Paul Demeny, Don Heisel, Frank Lorimer, Anatole Romaniuk, and Etienne van de Walle. 1968. The Demography of Tropical Africa. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Coale, Ansley J. 1965. "Factors Associated with the Development of Low Fertility: An Historic Summary." In Proceedings of the World Population Conference, Belgrade, 1965, Vol. 2. New York: United Nations. 205–209.
——. 1970. "Man and His Environment." Science 170 (October 9): 132–136.
——. 1972. The Growth and Structure of Human Populations: A Mathematical Investigation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
——. 1973. "The Demographic Transition Reconsidered." In International Population Conference, Liège, Vol. 1, pp 53–72. Liège: IUSSP.
——. 1974. "The History of the Human Population." Scientific American 231(3): 41–51.
Coale, Ansley J., and Paul Demeny. 1966. Regional Model Life Tables and Stable Populations. Prince-ton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (2nd edition, New York: Academic Press, 1983.)
——. 1967. Methods of Estimating Basic Demographic Measures from Incomplete Data. New York: United Nations.
Coale, Ansley J., and Edgar M. Hoover. 1958. Population Growth and Economic Development in Low-Income Countries. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Coale, Ansley J., and Susan Cotts Watkins, eds. 1986. The Decline of Fertility in Europe. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.