Models and indicators
Returning to themes of Land (1971a) and Land (1971b), this article addresses topics in formal sociological models and the definition, construction, and interpretation of social indicators. I show how standard classes of formalisms used to construct models in contemporary sociology can be derived from the general theory of models. This demonstrates, at a high level of abstraction, the isomorphism of many formal sociological models to the formal models used in virtually every scientific discipline today. I also review recent model-building and model-evaluation efforts in which I have participated on the estimation of active life expectancy of the U.S. elderly population, an assessment of the robustness of a recently proposed adjusted total fertility rate, and the construction of a new index of child and youth well-being. These studies show how formal models help us to see patterns in data that otherwise are not detectable, improve social measurement, and, in particular, define and interpret social indicators.
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)