Spatial extent in demographic research - approach and problems

Aleksandar Knežević, Gordana Vojković


One of the starting methodological problems in demographic research is the definition of spatial extent, which mostly doesn’t correspond to spatial extend already defined by different levels of administrative-territorial units that are used for distribution of usable statistical data. That’s why determining the spatial extent of a demographic research is closely tied with administrative-territorial division of the territory that is being researched, wherein the fact that differentiation of demographic phenomena and processes cannot be the only basis of setting the principles of regionalization must be strictly acknowledged. This problem is particularly common in historical demographic analyses of geographically determined wholes, which are in administratively-territorial sense represented by one or more smaller territorial units, with their borders changing through the history, which directly affects comparability of the statistical data, and makes it considerably more difficult to track demographic change through longer time intervals. The result of these efforts is usually a solution based on a compromise which enables us to examine the dynamics of population change with little deviation from already defined borders of regional geographic wholes. For that reason in this paper the problem of defining spatial extent in demographic research is examined trough several different approaches in case of Eastern Serbia, as a geographically determined region, a historic area, a spatially functioning whole and as a statistical unit for demographic research, with no judgment calls in regard to any of the regionalization principles.


demographic research; spatial extent; administrative-territorial division; geographic determinism; statistical unit of observation; Eastern Serbia.

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