Director and Associate Director
About the Director
Social epidemiologist Lisa Berkman was appointed director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies by Harvard Provost Steven E. Hyman in October 2007. Berkman is the Thomas Cabot Professor of Public Policy and of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH). She was chair of the school’s Department of Society, Human Development and Health since 1995. Recognized for her groundbreaking work in the field of social epidemiology, she is noted for identifying the effects of social networks on mortality risks that helped define the field in the late 1970s. Berkman also broadened the field with her investigations of how social conditions related to inequality, race, ethnicity, and social isolation influence health and aging. Upon her appointment, Dean Barry R. Bloom of the Harvard School of Public Health, commented “Lisa is a creative and dynamic leader with the rare gift of being able to engage with members in almost every faculty in the University and bringing together people and ideas from the biological sciences, social sciences, and humanities.”
Before coming to HSPH in 1995 to head what was then the Department of Health and Social Behavior, Berkman was head of the department of chronic disease epidemiology at Yale School of Medicine.
A graduate of Northwestern University, Berkman received her master’s and doctorate in epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley. She joined the Yale faculty in 1979 as an assistant professor.
Berkman is currently a member of the Institute of Medicine and serves as chair of the Board of Scientific Counselors of the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. She is a past president of the Society for Epidemiologic Research.
About the Associate Director
David Canning is the Richard Saltonstall Professor of Population Sciences and Professor of Economics and International Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from Cambridge University and is currently deputy director of the Program on the Global Demography of Aging. He also heads the economics track of the doctoral program in Population and International Health.
Before assuming his role at the Harvard School of Public Health, Canning held faculty positions at the London School of Economics, Cambridge University, Columbia University, and Queen’s University Belfast, where he received his B.A. in economics and mathematics in 1979. In addition, Dr. Canning has served as a consultant to the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank. He was also a member of Working Group One of the World Health Organization’s Commission on Macroeconomics and Health.
Canning’s research on demographic change focuses on the effect of changes in age structure on aggregate economic activity, and the effect of changes in longevity on economic behavior. In terms of health, the research focuses on health as a form of human capital and its affect on worker productivity. In one of his most recent projects, Canning and his collaborators, David Bloom, Jocelyn Finlay, and Gunther Fink, analyzed the effect of fertility on income per capita with a particular focus on Europe. For European countries with below-replacement fertility (a fertility rate that is not high enough to replace an area’s population), the cost of continued low fertility will only be observed in the long run. They found the burden of old-age dependency dominates the youth dependency decline, and continued low fertility will lead to small working-age shares in the absence of large migration inflows. And without substantial adjustments in labor force participation or migration policies, the potential negative repercussions on the European economy are large.