Research Focal Areas & Projects

Over the past 50 years, the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies has shifted in its concerns about overpopulation and has expanded its focus to examine relevant questions involving demographic shifts, resources, health, and the environment. We continue to rely strongly on a robust cadre of multi-disciplinary faculty to advance the science.

Although we cover an array of topics, our five signature focal areas address some of the world’s leading population and demographic challenges:

SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL DETERMINANTS OF POPULATION HEALTH

broken_window_resizedSocial factors such as poverty, economic inequality, social isolation and exclusion, exposure to violence, poor nutrition and job stress along with environmental conditions shape health in ways that health care systems are challenged to fix.

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AGING SOCIETIES

elder_threeThe fertility declines since the 1960s have resulted in rapidly aging populations. These changes in population size and ratios have had dramatic effects on demographic distribution, living conditions, family structures, fiscal balances, and a whole host of other factors key to human welfare.

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POPULATION MOBILITY – MIGRATION IN A GLOBAL ECONOMY

people-walking_resizedMigration is a complex global phenomenon. Integration challenges have led to a great deal of research on immigrant identities, on transnational connections between sending and receiving societies, and on patterns of social, cultural and economic integration.

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CHILDHOOD TO ELDER HEALTH: A LIFECOURSE PERSPECTIVE

MultiGenFamily_resizedThere is increasing realization that health in later life can be influenced by early childhood factors and on lifestyle choices made in middle age. While our aging theme focuses on older people, studying the entire trajectory of life-time circumstances, from in utero exposures onwards, can help us understand health outcomes in old age.

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HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF LABOR POLICIES AND WORK DESIGN

woman_resizedLabor policies such as workers compensation, unemployment, minimum wage, sick leave and flexible schedules, have an impact on health outcomes through a variety of mechanisms and pathways, and mostly affect women, low and middle wage earners, immigrants and older workers.

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