Sociology Index

Irene Barnes Taeuber

Irene Barnes Taeuber was an American demographer who worked for the Office of Population Research at Princeton University, where she edited the journal Population Index from 1936 to 1954. Her scholarly work is credited with helping to establish the science of demography.

Irene Barnes Taeuber directed the Census Library Project, a joint effort of the Library of Congress and the Bureau of the Census, from 1942 to 1945. Irene Barnes Taeuber chaired committees on population studies and demography for the Pacific Science Association and American Sociological Association, and served as president of the Population Association of America for 1953–1954.

Irene Barnes Taeuber wrote and edited many books and articles, totalling "a dozen influential books and book-length reports and some 250 articles and chapters." But her most significant work was the book The Population of Japan (Princeton University Press, 1958).

Nearly 500 pages long, this book is in seven sections. The first one gives a historical and sociological overview of Japanese life and culture, followed by sections on the Meiji period and the modern era. Sections include internal migrations, the Meiji-era expansion of the Japanese empire, the effects of fertility and mortality on the population, and a demographic view of the effects of World War II on Japan with an eye to future possibilities. This work "demonstrates the power of demographic analysis ... as an instrument for the description of social change". It was well-received in Japan, and a Japanese translation was published by the Mainichi Press.

Irene Barnes Taeuber was elected as a Fellow by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Sociological Society, and American Statistical Association (1960). She was given honorary doctorates by Smith College in 1960, and by the Western College for Women in 1965.

The Universities of Missouri and Minnesota also awarded her accomplishments, as did the American Sociological Society, which gave her their Stuart. A. Rice Award in 1972. The Irene B. Taeuber Award for research achievements of the Population Association of America is named in her honor. Kingsley Davis won the Irene Barnes Taeuber Award for outstanding research in demography (1978).