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Davis won the Irene B. Taeuber Award for outstanding research in demography (1978), the Common Wealth Award for distinguished work in sociology (1979), and the Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award from the American Sociological Association (1982).
In 1953 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Statistical Association.
Davis had several children while espousing limitations on childbearing worldwide. Davis also published an influential article with Wilbert E. Moore entitled "Some Principles of Stratification," which was a very influential functionalist account of the reasons for social inequality. Davis and Moore synthesize Durkheim and Parsons to argue for the "functional necessity" of some positions over others: those that are highest paid go to the most deserving individuals; at the same time, the differential rewards motivates individuals to work to fill positions they might otherwise not. Thus, from this perspective, illness is a deviant state because it means that the individual may not be able to fill their role. Sociologists see this article as a paradigmatic case of functionalist logic, and indeed, Davis came to be a leading figure in this school of sociology.
As a demographer, Davis 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.
Kingsley Davis was a prolific scholar who published numerous research articles, book chapters and books.
Davis, Kingsley (1935). Youth in the Depression. University of Chicago Press.