Donald J. Bogue, one of the nation's leading demographers, 1918-2014

Donald Bogue, one of the nation’s leading demographers, who held appointments in the Department of Sociology and the independent research institution NORC at the University of Chicago, died April 21 in Dyer, Ind., at the home of his daughter, Gretchen Maguire. He was 96.

Bogue joined the UChicago faculty in 1954 and continued working late in his life. He recently published A Treatise on Migration: National and International

In the preface, he said the book was intended to “reconcile and integrate theories and empirical findings with fundamental principles of the social sciences. One consequence is to conclude that there is no ‘true’ solution to today’s migration problems and their proper ‘reform’; solutions will depend upon the interaction (often confrontational) of multiple forces of migrants and natives.”

In 2012, he published a monograph, The Economic Adjustment of Immigrants to Twelve Nations of Latin America and Comparison with United States. It was the first scholarly work to compare migration within Latin America to migration from Latin America to the United States.

He found that immigrants to the United States from Latin America improve their economic status, whereas the economic status of people moving between Latin American countries does not improve.

“Don contributed to the intellectual life at the University of Chicago for well over half a century. He was one of the founders of the University’s Population Research Center in 1958 and served as president of the Population Association of America in 1963,” said Robert Michael, the Eliakim Hastings Moore Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the Harris School of Public Policy.

“He remained an inspiration to all of us in the demography community for the diligence and integrity with which he pursued his research and the generosity with which he offered guidance through his workshop comments until very recently,” Michael said.

Bogue was born in Utah, but spent most of his childhood on a farm just outside Independence, Mo. He received a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1939 from the University of Iowa, an MA in sociology in 1940 from Washington State College, and a PhD in sociology from the University of Michigan in 1949.  

During World War II, he served as an industrial statistician for the U.S. Navy. He married Elizabeth Mullen in 1944, who worked with him on many of his projects and was particularly talented at using computers as tools to assist in research. She died in 1973.

After serving on the faculty at Miami University, he joined the University of Chicago faculty and was named a full professor in 1958. 

“Donald Bogue first collaborated with NORC on his 1958 study of the lives and experiences of 613 men residing in Chicago’s Skid Row—which included field interviews at boarding houses, missions, jails and hospitals,” said Kathleen Parks, senior vice president at NORC, who directs the NORC Academic Research Center.  

“The research showed that Chicago’s skid row was home to different types of people—mostly white and middle-aged, but all very poor with various life circumstances that required different solutions.”

Alma Kuby, a retired researcher at NORC who worked with Bogue on the project, said, "It was an exciting time for sociology at the University. Don went down to Skid Row and lived there for a week, wearing shabby clothes and not shaving, so he could closely observe and get a feel for the residents. Then he developed a very thorough study that was scientifically based. It was an example of our how sociology influences policy, as the slums there were eventually removed."

"He created a wonderful community of people interested in demography and he and his wife were very welcoming and frequently invited his students to their home."

For that project as well as others throughout his career, Bogue continually learned how to use technology for his research and publications. He bought a camera and darkroom equipment and produced many of his own photos for Skid Row in American Cities as well as other projects.

“In the early 1980s, when sewing machine-size ‘portable’ computers became available, he learned to operate them, bought a dozen Compaqs, and lugged them around the world to places like Mainland China, giving workshops,” said his daughter Sister Edith Bogue, OSB, associate professor of sociology at the College of St. Scholastica.

“At an age when most people are slowing down, he was learning to use Internet data sites. Well into his 80s, he decided to learn PowerPoint,” she said.

During his career, he produced dozens of reports, books and monographs on topics ranging from metropolitan decentralization, to population growth in metropolitan areas, to suburbanization, to population and socioeconomic development in a number of Latin American countries.

He served in numerous international positions as an expert and teacher of demography for the United Nations and trained dozens of demographers from both developed and developing nations.     

In the 1960s and after, his interest in family planning made him a major force in the worldwide movement for population control. In the 1970s, he directed a USAID-funded contract to improve the evaluation of family planning programs’ impact on fertility in low-income countries.           

He co-authored a report in 1978 that predicted that Chicago’s population would be two-thirds minority by the year 2000, a prediction that proved true. He also accurately predicted that the city’s population losses would slacken by 2000.  

In 1964, Bogue founded Demography, the Journal of the Population Association of America and served as its first editor from 1964 to 1969.

In 2011, Bogue was honored twice: he received the Laureate Award from the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population and was named an honoree by the Population Association of America.

Bogue’s life is an example of successful aging, said Linda Waite, the Lucy Flower Professor in Sociology and director of on Demography and Economics of Aging at NORC at the University of Chicago. Bogue was a researcher at the center and had an office near Waite’s.

“He was also so nice, so cheery, he would stop by and say hello,” she said. "He was very committed to his research, which he loved. He found research to be something that made him happy and made him feel engaged. We are a social species, and for Don, being in touch with people he knew, who respected his work, meant a great deal. It gave him his place in the world. It kept him going.”

In addition to his daughters, grandchildren Robert Balanoff, Daniel Balanoff, Joseph Maguire and Jennifer Maguire, longtime dear friend Isabel Garcia and her family, and numerous cousins and nieces survive him. At his request, no funeral will be held.  He will be buried in Pennsylvania with his wife.

Contributions in his memory may be made to the Elizabeth Mullen Bogue Book Endowment Fund at the University of Chicago Library.