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  • Celebrating Demography 4 Feb 2022

    Demography Day - Why we celebrate population science

    This year, the ESRC Centre for Population Change is joining its partners Population Europe in highlighting 4 February as Demography Day, with the aim of drawing attention to the importance of demographic research.

    Demography helps us understand how our futures might look. This is because demography shows trends. For example, it shows us the composition of the population by age, gender, marital status, origin, education or health. Demographic scientists also analyse why this composition is changing and what this means for our coexistence and individual life courses.

    This knowledge is relevant for every individual. Young people, in particular, are faced with decisions that shape their entire lives: Do I want to start a family and, if so, when? Do I want to move out and if so, where and how do I want to live? The answers to questions like these influence how each individual's life turns out - along with other factors such as opportunities in education and the labour market.

    CPC's Director, Professor Jane Falkingham OBE, comments: "Since 2009 I have been working with colleagues in the ESRC Centre for Population Change to explore how and why our population is changing and what this means for people, communities and governments. We are delighted to team up with our partners in Population Europe to celebrate Demography Day. The past few years have been extremely turbulent and challenging for so many of us and our research helps us all to understand how people have really been affected so new policies can actually help people."

    She continues: "My hope is that our research will change how we think about different stages of the life course, and help to address some of the imbalances we have seen recently; things like unaffordable housing for young people, or a lack of social care for older people, for example."

    Dubravka Šuica, European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography, says: “I am convinced that demographic change should be viewed as the third key transition that Europe, and indeed the world, is experiencing, alongside the green and the digital transitions. Demographic change and the challenges that it poses, are a factor throughout the life-cycle. When demography is factored into all our work, our policies will be more successful, impactful and sustainable in the long-term, to the benefit of our citizens.”

    "John Graunt, widely regarded as the father of demography, developed methods to repurpose existing data to learn from the past and to imagine the future," says Emilio Zagheni, managing director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock.

    Graunt completed his study 'Natural and Political Observations ... made upon the Bills of Mortality' on 4 February 1662 (according to today’s dating), in which he analysed the mortality figures of Londoners during an epidemic – just as researchers nowadays examine mortality rates to better understand the influence of Covid-19.

    Zagheni adds: "Today, demographers all over the world triangulate established sources, as well as new data to identify the factors that promote sustainable and equitable well-being, to assess how choices affect current and future generations, and to understand what makes populations resilient in the face of crises. Demography creates a bridge that connects our individual life trajectories with population-level outcomes to guide us towards a more predictable future."

    ‘Looking at the level of society as a whole, I have great hope that the Corona pandemic has made it clear how essential family life is for a society,’ says C. Katharina Spieß, Director of the Federal Institute for Population Research. ‘Overall, it is crucial that in the future there is even more focus on the importance of families, all their members and their well-being.’

    To mark this first Demography Day, Population Europe are also hosting the Berlin Demography Days (16-18 May) with a focus this year on young people's perspectives about population and demographic issues, and their future life courses.

    Posted 03/02/2022 11:27