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    CPC celebrates 10 years

    In 2019, the ESRC Centre for Population Change (CPC) celebrates its 10th anniversary year. Since 2009, CPC researchers have been busy investigating society’s most critical questions about population change. Here, we take a look back at some of the highlights and achievements of the last 10 years.

    The Centre

    As a group of over 40 academics and around 18 PhD students, CPC has been advancing knowledge on changes in births, deaths, relationships and migration, enabling policy makers and planners to know how, when and where to respond. The Centre is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and has been a joint partnership between the Universities of Southampton, St. Andrews, Edinburgh, Stirling and Strathclyde, with our research agenda planned in collaboration with the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) and National Records of Scotland (NRS). The Centre is also a founding member of Population Europe, a partnership of leading demographic institutes and universities.

    In 2018, CPC was awarded further funding from the ESRC to continue research until 2022. Our members have also secured over 80 additional research grants and contracts over the last 10 years. Examples of these include Jakub Bijak’s ERC Consolidator Grant for the project 'Bayesian Agent-based Population Studies' and Agnese Vitali’s ESRC Future Research Leaders grant on female-breadwinner families.

    “I am delighted to be coming up to such an important milestone. The last 10 years have seen many changes in how we live as a society, and those changes are happening more rapidly than ever before. Our research achievements so far have helped us to better understand the drivers of change and contribute to the national and international conversation on how to respond.” Says Professor Jane Falkingham, CPC Director. “We are heading into a time of increased uncertainty, with Brexit on the horizon, and a rapidly changing economy demanding new skills, changes in family life and a growing number of older people living longer. There has never been a more interesting and important time to study population change, and I am delighted that with the support of the ESRC and the institutions involved in CPC we can continue our work helping to improve the world in which we live.”


    Over the last 10 years, Centre members have produced around 900 research publications including 461 articles in peer reviewed journals and 46 reports for a range of international and national governmental bodies. The Centre has self-published 45 Policy Briefings and 91 Working Papers, all edited by the Centre Research Manager, Teresa McGowan. In total, these papers have been downloaded around 600,000 times. The most downloaded papers cover the key topics of migration, unemployment, Scotland, welfare, employers, living arrangements and young adults.

    Most downloaded Policy Briefings:

    -Does unemployment cause return migration
    -The changing living arrangements of young adults in the UK
    -Patterns and perceptions of migration, is Scotland distinct from the rest of the UK

    Most downloaded Working Papers:

    -'New' Polish migration to the UK: A synthesis of existing evidence
    -Welfare migration
    -Immigration policy and constitutional change: The perspectives on Scottish employer and industry representatives

    CPC has also published a regular newsletter over the last 10 years, launched as an official publication in 2016, Changing Populations, the most recent edition of which was published in November 2018.

    Partnership working

    Since 2009, CPC has been working with its partners ONS and NRS to improve data collection and analysis. For example, CPC Co-Director Elspeth Graham has regularly contributed findings on household changes to the NRS Registrar General’s Annual Review of Trends on Scotland’s Population.

    CPC members constructed a General Household Survey (GHS) database of fertility, marriage and cohabitation, allowing analysis of changing dynamics of childbearing and partnership. In 2012, ONS commissioned Jakub Bijak to review the methodology used for the national population projections. As a result, the methodology for setting migration assumptions was revised to incorporate his findings and recommendations.

    The ONS English Life Tables ELT17 were prepared by CPC members in 2017. This is an official publication produced after every census since 1841. Their Journal of the Royal Statistical Society (Series A) article on ‘Smoothing mortality data: the English Life Tables 2010-2012’ was one of the most downloaded articles in 2017.

    Our collaboration with ONS and Universities UK has provided insight into the intentions and movements of a large cohort of graduating international students – something that has, until now, been very difficult to track.

    Working with policy makers

    Since 2009, we have worked closely with policy makers like the RT Hon David Willetts MP, who has visited CPC to give lectures and seminars on his intergenerational fairness and exchange work, his latest was to give the University of Southampton Distinguished Lecture in October 2018.

    Jackie Wahba is a member of the UK Home Office Migration Advisory Committee, while Jane Falkingham is a Special Advisor to the House of Lords Intergenerational Fairness and Provision Committee, with others including Elspeth Graham, Athina Vlachantoni and David Bell invited to give evidence to government select committees in both Westminster and Holyrood.

    In 2017, we hosted a policy roundtable event 'Tales of Migration' on citizenship, benefits and identity in Brexit Britain at the Palace of Westminster, with the University of Southampton’s Public Policy team, the ESRC UK in a Changing Europe and the Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP. Our researchers recorded a video series on migration to accompany the event. Our Brexit research also saw us host a ‘Sociology of Brexit’ seminar series, and take part in the 2017 University of Southampton Research Roadshow, helping to discuss and tackle the truths and misconceptions around the EU Referendum.

    In the lead up to the EU Referendum, our researchers were investigating the EU population in the UK, and their attitudes to changes and welfare entitlement, all as part of the ESRC UK in a Changing Europe project. This work continues - find out more on our ‘Understanding the drivers and consequence of population changes in the UK in the context of a changing Europe’ project page.

    We also contributed to understanding population matters surrounding the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, for example David Bell was awarded an ESRC Senior Fellowship to provide evidence on fiscal aspects of the referendum.

    And our work continues in understanding how Brexit migration policies and rhetoric are affecting Scottish interests, particularly in attracting international students, following a recent roundtable event hosted by David McCollum. Read more about it in his blog post ‘International students in Scotland, Brexit and beyond’.


    Over the last 10 years, we have hosted 221 seminars in Southampton and Edinburgh presented by experts in demography, economics, geography, gerontology, sociology, social policy & social statistics. We have made recent seminars available on our YouTube channel.

    CPC members have been prolific at academic conferences in the UK and internationally, contributing around 1500 papers to the conferences of the British Society for Population Studies, the European Association for Population Studies, the Population Association of America and the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population to name but a few. Find out what we got up to at the BSPS 2018 conference.

    Back in 2011, the landmark of the global population reaching 7 billion saw us organise events for the ESRC Festival of Social Science, engaging the public, schools, policy makers, and collaborating with artists from the Winchester School of Art for a Solent Showcase art exhibition. In another arts collaboration, CPC members collaborated with the Centre for Research on Ageing, Fevered Sleep and the Young Vic on a theatre production called On Ageing, exploring ageing over the life course.

    Jackie Wahba, Jakub Bijak and Jane Falkingham took part in the University of Southampton Public Lecture Series 2018 on population and migration, showcasing the impact of our research to academics, partners, funders & influencers. Videos of each event are on available on YouTube.

    Arguably one of our biggest engagement activities has been the ‘How to get to 100 – and enjoy it!’ project. In 2014/15, we ran a UK-wide exhibition, designed in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute of Demographic Research and Population Europe, visiting Southampton, London, Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Belfast, and featuring on BBC Breakfast. The exhibition saw members of the public, school groups and policy makers introduced to the themes and research of population changes, what these mean for our lives and how well and long we live, with activities and an app still available online.

    In 2016, we worked with Population Europe to take 'How to get to 100' to the European Parliament, with a special opening event where research, policy and civil experts discussed population ageing in Europe.

    The exhibition has since developed and has been used in different formats by other Population Europe members across Europe, and we took a condensed version to Washington DC as part of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) showcase in February 2019. CPC Research Manager, Teresa McGowan discusses the exhibition, and the challenges faced by social scientists in communicating their research in an ESRC blog post ‘How to live to 100 and tell people about it!’.

    International work

    And finally, our work has extended internationally, led by CPC Co-Director Maria Evandrou alongside her work as Director of the Centre for Research on Ageing. This research has been exploring the wellbeing of older people in an increasingly globalising world, including how they are affected by migration, health and social networks. For example, Maria leads the Global Ageing and Long-term Care Network (GALNet) bringing together academics, policy makers & practitioners to share experiences & best practice from different countries to design integrated long-term care services.

    Maria comments: "Understanding global population ageing and what this means for long-term care has never been more urgent. Today there are 900 million individuals aged 60 and over, of whom two-thirds of individuals live in the developing world; by 2050 this is expected to more than double to over 2 billion. Eighty percent of these will be living in less developed countries, many of which currently lack comprehensive systems of social protection."

    We look forward to celebrating our successes in 2019 and will be hosting a number of events and activities throughout the year. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with our latest news, publications and events.

    Posted 15/02/2019 10:08