Taeuber, Irene B.

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One of the most distinguished demographers of her generation, Irene Taeuber was born in Missouri and graduated from the University of Missouri in 1927. Her graduate training was at Northwestern University and the University of Minnesota from which she received a doctorate in sociology in 1931. Married to Conrad Taeuber, a noted demographer employed for many years at the U.S. Bureau of the Census, she had two children, Richard and Karl, both of whom have pursued careers in demography.

Apart from three years of teaching at Mt. Holyoke College and a brief stint in Washington where, with the eminent demographer Frank Lorimer she edited Population Literature for the Population Association of America, most of Irene Taeuber's career was spent at the Office of Population Research at Princeton University which she joined shortly after its founding. There, from 1937 when the first volume appeared, for the rest of her life she co-edited Population Index, an annotated bibliography of the world's population research literature, carrying the main responsibilities for the journal during its first 17 years and writing most of the journal's opening "Current Items." Her reputation as a demographer, however, is based primarily on her research contributions, contained in some 200 published items–books, monographs, articles, book chapters, and reviews. The geography of her demographic interests was wide-ranging, covering all continents. Her best-known book, a 462 page volume entitled The Population of Japan, appeared in 1958 and was later translated and published in Japan. In the same year she also co-authored with her husband the massive volume The Changing Population of the United States. Although primarily a specialist on the populations of Asia–China, Pakistan, India, and the Philippines as well as Japan–Taeuber also wrote on Europe and the United States and on different parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Measurement issues in demography captured her attention too, as did the science of demography itself. Her contributions to the population field can be characterized as demographic description and analysis at its best, with a truly international purview. A full bibliography of her writings appears as an appendix to a 1975 memorial note in Population Index by Frank Notestein.

Professional appreciation of Taeuber's research contributions was signaled by the many academic honors she received during her lifetime. She was president of the Population Association of America from 1953 to 1954 (the first woman to serve in that capacity) and vice-president of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population from 1961 to 1965. In Princeton, her formal rank was initially Research Associate at the Office of Population Research and, from 1961 until her retirement in 1973, Senior Research Demographer. At that time, Princeton employed very few women as faculty; under later circumstances she would probably have had a "regular" professorial career. After her death the Population Association of America established the biennial Irene B. Taeuber Award to honor her memory.

See also: Demography, History of.


selected works by irene b. taeuber.

Taeuber, Conrad, and Irene B. Taeuber. 1958. The Changing Population of the United States. U. S. Bureau of the Census and the Social Science Research Council, Census Monograph Series. New York: John Wiley.

Taeuber, Irene B. 1958. The Population of Japan. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Published in Japanese as Nihyon Jinko (Tokyo: Mainichi Press, 1965).

——. 1962. "Japan's Population: Miracle, Model, or Case Study?" Foreign Affairs 40 (July): 595–604.

——. 1964. "Population and Society." In Handbook of Modern Sociology, ed. Robert E. L. Faris. Chicago: Rand McNally.

——. 1969. "Population Growth in Less Developed Countries." In The Population Dilemma, 2nd edition, ed. Philip M. Hauser. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

——. 1972. "Chinese Population in Transition: The City-States." Population Index 38 (January–March): 3–34.

——. 1972. "Growth of the Population of the United States in the Twentieth Century." In U.S. Commission on Population Growth and the American Future, Research Reports, Vol. 1: Demographic and Social Aspects of Population Growth, ed. Charles F. Westoff and Robert Parke, Jr. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.

——. 1973. "The Data and the Dynamics of the Chinese Populations" Population Index 39 (April): 137–170.

Taeuber, Irene B., and Conrad Taeuber. 1971. People of the United States in the Twentieth Century. U.S. Bureau of the Census and the Social Science Research Council, Census Monograph Series. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.

Charles F. Westoff