A note on the relative importance of demographic metabolism: the case of trust

Héctor Pifarré i Arolas, Max-Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Since its initial formulation by Ryder, the theory of demographic metabolism has developed into a fully quantitative theory and has been applied to a variety of subjects, ranging from political attitudes to social values. There is little doubt that the replacement of cohorts is a motor of social progress, but how much does it contribute in relation to other forces of social change? I discuss some of the methodological aspects of the assessment of the relative magnitude of demographic metabolism using the trends of trust among individuals in the United States. A meta-analysis of the results of a variety of well-established models and techniques in demography and economics confirms the key importance of the process of cohort replacement on both the levels and trends of trust.

Presented in Session 30: Innovations in demographic methods