Social statistics and Population Dynamics

A.Y. 2019/2020
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course is structured around two integrated modules: social statistics and population trends.
The goal of the first module is to illustrate the basic concepts and data analysis techniques used in social research: the first part concentrates on the descriptive part of statistics (description of a data set using summary tables and graphs, use of measurements of position and dispersion), while the second concentrates on probability and statistical inference (use of basic probability calculation tools, statistical inferences on continuous and discrete variables and study of the relationships between several variables). The module has a "practical" slant focused on aspects of applying statistics to social research.
The goal of the second module is to analyse the medium- and long-term demographic processes which give an understanding of current situations and the main issues/challenges that they raise in developed and developing countries. With the support of the statistical tools acquired in the first module and the introduction of the theoretical and analytical tools needed to understand and interpret population trends, the module will illustrate the causes and consequences of the demographical transformations underway as well as the relations between population and socio-economic trends from a national and international point of view.
At the end of the lessons, the students should possess:
General skills (first module).
- Knowledge and understanding of basic statistics for the comprehension and appropriate use of the main statistical methods needed to acquire, organize and process data from different sources and interpret the summary information obtained.
- Ability to apply knowledge and understanding of the main basic statistical methods to: 1) interpret the results of univariate and bivariate statistical analyses on social and demographic phenomena; 2) independently perform quantitative analysis of secondary data using specific software (SPSS).
General skills (second module).
- Knowledge and understanding of the timescales and characteristics of demographic trends.
- Ability to apply knowledge and understanding and interpret the main demographic transformations and interdependence with the socio-economic system within a wider historical, geographical and theoretical scenario.
Specific skills (first module).
These skills concern theoretical and applicational aspects of statistics in social research: ability to deal with data from statistical sources by making suitable transformations; ability to represent and describe the variable frequency distributions; ability to describe the form, strength and direction of the relationship between two variables; ability to use sample data to estimate population parameters.
Specific skills (second module).
These skills are: ability to read, interpret and sum up statistical information with demographic contents; knowledge of the sources of demographical data and ability to build the main population trend and structure indicators.
Expected learning outcomes
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First trimester
Course syllabus
The course is structured around two integrated modules:
1) Social Statistics (40 hours)
2) Population Dynamics (20 hours).

The module of Social Statistics covers the following topics:
- Data collection
- The logic of descriptive and inferential statitistics
- Basic probability concepts and hypothesis testing
- Univariate analysis
- Bivariate analysis: cross-tabulation
- Bivariate analysis: ANOVA
- Bivariate analysis: simple linear regression

The module of Population Dynamics covers the following topics:
- elements of demographic analysis;
- world demographic patterns; fertility, mortality, migration;
- ageing and active ageing
- transitions to adulthood;
- demography of developing countries
Prerequisites for admission
In order to successfully follow the course, it is sufficient to possess the basic mathematical knowledge taught at secondary school. The course has a practical approach to statistics, hence no calculus exercises will be carried out. All the statistical formulae will be explained and used to provide the students with useful knowledge and skills to correctly interpret statistical data referring to real social, political and demographic phenomena (ISTAT data, OECD data, data from cross-national international surveys).
Teaching methods
The teaching is based on teacher-led lessons, during which interaction with the students is welcome and encouraged. Furthermore, it will be possible to enrol for a series of 5 practical lessons dedicated to use of the SPSS statistics program (for course attendees). One hundred places are available. Information on the enrolment method will be given during the first lesson of the course.
Hence, the course can be followed in three different ways:
Method A: attendance in person
Method B: attendance in person and practical lessons on the SPSS statistical software
Method C: without attendance in person
Teaching Resources
- E. Amaturo et al. (eds). Statistica per le scienze sociali. UTET. Torino. 2018
- A. Rosina e A. De Rose. Demografia. Egea. Milano. 2017.
- additional resources uploaded in Ariel
Assessment methods and Criteria
The final exam consists of two tests, aimed at checking learning in the social statistics and population dynamics modules. The final mark will be given by the weighted average of the results of the two tests. The weighting is based on the hours of lessons in each module (40h and 20h). Hence, the social statistics module test accounts for 66.7% of the final mark, and the population dynamics test for 33.3%. The social statistics module test consists of 20 multiple choice questions (worth 24 out of 30 points) and 2 open-ended questions (worth 6 out of 30 points). The open-ended questions require a short comment on some data presented in the form of contingency tables and/or parameters of a simple linear regression model. The population dynamics module test consists of 20 multiple-choice questions.
Course attendees may take two mid-term tests at the end of the lessons for each module. If the student only passes one of the two tests, the test that was not passed can be taken again during the first two exam sessions (December 2019 and/or January 2020). A mark of 16 is sufficient to pass the test for each module, so long as the weighted average amounts to at least 18. For those following the practical SPSS lessons, there will be a short oral test (5/10 minutes) to discuss a data analysis exercise carried out with SPSS software that must be sent to the teacher before the last lesson of the course. Instructions for doing the exercise will be given before the second practical class of the course. The oral test is optional, but it can give a bonus mark of up to 2 points to add to the final score.
Course attendees who do not manage to pass the exam by the January 2020 exam session must take the whole exam again. The marks from the mid-term tests will hence only be considered valid until the January 2020 exam session.
Those not attending the course in person take an identical test to the other participants, but they cannot take the mid-term tests or oral exam.
SECS-S/04 - DEMOGRAPHY - University credits: 3
SECS-S/05 - SOCIAL STATISTICS - University credits: 6
Lessons: 60 hours