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Methods for Estimating Cohort Replacement Effects

Glenn Firebaugh
Sociological Methodology
Vol. 19 (1989), pp. 243-262
DOI: 10.2307/270954
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/270954
Page Count: 20
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Methods for Estimating Cohort Replacement Effects
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Abstract

In his classic essay on cohorts and social change, Norman Ryder (1965, p. 843) argued that the birth and death of individuals constitutes a "massive process of personnel replacement" that holds enormous potential for social change. Datasets suitable for testing Ryder's argument are becoming more common in sociology, yet few analysts of social change even attempt to estimate its personnel replacement component, no doubt in part because there is no generally accepted method for doing so. In this paper I describe and illustrate six possible ways to estimate cohort (personnel) replacement effects: three based on algebra (Kitagawa's two-component method, forward partitioning, and backward partitioning), and three based on regression (regression standardization, survey metric analysis, and linear decomposition). Assuming monotonic change, regression methods typically are better, because standard algebraic methods are ill suited for analyzing change with regard to birth cohorts that enter or exit during the period studied.

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