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Kingsley Davis, Hoover fellow, demographer, sociologist, dies at age 88

Kingsley Davis, a Hoover Institution senior research fellow who devoted his career to the study of demography and sociological phenomena, has died at age 88.

Davis, who suffered from Parkinson's disease for several years, died Feb.27. A private service will be held on March 7.

Davis was widely known for his studies of population problems in all parts of the world. He was internationally recognized for his expertise in world population growth and resources, the history and theory of international migration, world urbanization, demographic transition and population policy. He coined the term "zero population growth," which has come into common usage.

He was a principal exponent of the use of incentives in fertility control policies. He served as a consultant on population policies and demographic information in India, Nepal, Bahrain and Latin American countries.

"Kingsley Davis was an intellectual leader and innovator in his discipline," said Hoover director John Raisian. "He is someone we at Hoover and all demographers and sociologists will miss."

Born Aug. 20, 1908, Davis was a graduate of the University of Texas and earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University. He subsequently taught at Pennsylvania State University, Princeton, Columbia and the University of California-Berkeley. He was Ford Professor of Sociology and Comparative Studies (emeritus) at Berkeley. He also was Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Southern California. He was appointed a Hoover fellow in 1981.

In 1978, Davis won the Irene B. Taeuber Award for outstanding research in demography; in 1979, he won the Common Wealth Award for distinguished work in sociology; and in 1982, he received the Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award from the American Sociological Association.

He served as president of the Population Association of America and the American Sociological Association and represented the United States on the United Nations Population Commission. He was a member of the Advisory Council of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Advisory Committee on Population for the U.S. Bureau of the Census. He was the first sociologist in the nation to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1966).

His books include Human Society (MacMillan, 1949), The Population of India and Pakistan (Princeton University Press, 1951), World Urbanization 1950-1970 (Berkeley: Institute of International Studies, 1969, 1972), and Cities: Their Origin, Growth and Human Impact (W.H. Freeman, 1973).

In the popular press, his work appeared in Scientific American, Science, the New York Times Magazine, Commentary, Foreign Affairs and numerous newspapers.

Surviving are his wife, Marta Seoane; children Jo Ann Daily of Santa Barbara, Calif.; Jefferson K. Davis of Santa Fe, N.M.; Laura Davis of Boston; and Alexander Davis of Stanford; and two grandchildren.


By Michele Horaney