Social science has made great strides over the last half-century, with some of the most significant gains made in micro-level studies. However, analysts interested in broad societal change will not be satisfied with this micro-level detail alone. They will find the detail useful, but they still need to convert the micro-level relations into macro-level outcomes. Decomposition methods rooted in demography can help in those situations. This chapter discusses how these decomposition methods can build on other methods traditionally used in the social sciences. It specifies the kind of problems that are well suited for decomposition analysis, and it briefly reviews three basic types of decomposition approaches (demographic, regression, and mathematical). We illustrate, using mortality data as an example, and conclude with some suggestions for how this method might more broadly advance macrosocial research.
Part of the book: Demographic Analysis