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Demography from physical cemeteries, "virtual cemeteries," and census data

Author(s): Janet Lanza

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

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Laboratory experiment included in Teaching Issues and Experiments in Ecology (TIEE) Volume 8

Licensed under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 12 Mar 2018 doi:10.25334/Q40T2C - cite this


This lab provides a rich and flexible version of widely used demography exercises that have been previously based on data collected from cemeteries. This lab teaches life tables and survivorship curves. Over two lab periods, small student groups develop and answer questions comparing the survival patterns of different groups of humans (e.g., groups that differ in geographic area, time period, gender, socio-economic background, or ethnicity). Data on human demography are available from three sources: (1) tombstones in local cemeteries that provide ages at death, (2) on-line cemetery records, and (3) census records that provide the numbers of people alive in different age classes. Students may also compare survivorship curves on the same groups generated by different data sets.

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