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Emily Klancher Merchant

Associate Professor of Science and Technology Studies, University of California, Davis
Chapter Member: Sacramento SSN

About Emily

Merchant's research focuses on the history of the social sciences in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Merchant has written extensively on the history of population science and behavior genetics, and how these intersect with U.S. and global history and politics. Merchant teaches courses on gender and science, health and medical technologies, and data analysis and visualization at the University of California, Davis.


In the News

Opinion: "There Never Was a “Population Bomb”," Emily Klancher Merchant, Big Think, December 15, 2021.
Opinion: "Your Guide to the 2020 Census Questionnaire," Emily Klancher Merchant, The Conversation, May 1, 2020.
Opinion: "Democracy Is in Danger When the Census Undercounts Vulnerable Populations," Emily Klancher Merchant, The Conversation, March 29, 2018.
Opinion: "Guest Post: New Census Race Classifications Are About Civil Rights, Not Discrimination," Emily Klancher Merchant, Scatterplot, December 6, 2016.
Opinion: "How Foundations Got the U.S. Government Invested in International Population Control," Emily Klancher Merchant, HistPhil, June 24, 2016.


"Why DNA Is No Key to Social Equality: On Kathryn Paige Harden’s “The Genetic Lottery”," (with Brenna M. Henn, Anne O'Connor, and Tina Rulli), Los Angeles Review of Books, September 21, 2021.

Discusses why DNA is No Key to Social Equality; this is a long-form critical review (published in the LA Review) of the recent book "The Genetic Lottery" by Kathryn Paige Harden. 

"Building the Population Bomb" (Oxford University Press, 2021).

Examines how human population growth became a subject of scientific expertise and an object of governmental and philanthropic intervention in the twentieth century.

"Assessing the Demographic Consequences of the Covid-19 Pandemic" in Covid-19 and the Global Demographic Research Agenda, edited by Landis MacKellar and Rachel Friedman, 3 (Knowledge Commons, 2021), 37-41.

Explores the observed and expected demographic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, focusing on the core demographic processes: fertility, mortality, and migration. Examines how the impacts of the pandemic on data collection may make these consequences difficult to measure.

"A Digital History of Anglophone Demography and Global Population Control, 1915-1984" Population and Development Review 43, no. 1 (2017): 83-117.

Uses computational text analysis to examine the influence of philanthropic funders on the content of demographic research in the second half of the twentieth century.

"A Sudden Transition: Household Changes for Middle Aged U.S. Women in the Twentieth Century" (with Brian Gratton and Myron P. Gutmann ). Population Research and Policy Review 31 (2012): 703–726.

Uses historical data from the U.S. Census and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to explore how and why living arrangements changed for middle-aged white women in the United States in the middle of the twentieth century.