Research Focal Areas and Projects
The Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies (HCPDS) leads and fosters pioneering research on critical population health issues with the ultimate aim of improving quality of life for all. We harness the expertise of an array of scientists from all corners of Harvard to make exciting advances in population research.
The HCPDS was founded in 1964 by HSPH Dean Jack Snyder and Director Roger Revelle, a noted researcher who studied the consequences of population growth for ecological outcomes. From its roots in concerns about overpopulation, our center has expanded its focus and pursued relevant questions involving population, resources, health, and the environment, and relies strongly on a robust cadre of multi-disciplinary faculty to advance the science.
Currently the HCPDS is fortunate to have a number of epidemiologists and economists as well as physicians and other social scientists who work together to explore issues that are traditionally bound by distinct disciplinary approaches. Our scientists are well recognized for their methodological innovations, including novel contributions to life course and developmental issues as well as to multilevel, contextual, network, and spatial models. Many have also worked extensively in integrating objective biomarkers and clinical health assessments into large-scale population studies.
Although we cover an array of topics, our four signature focal areas address some of the world’s leading population and demographic challenges:
Social and Environmental Determinants of Population Health – Poverty, economic inequality, social isolation and exclusion, and job stress along with environmental conditions shape health in ways that health care systems are challenged to fix. View current research projects. View description and current projects.
Causes and Consequences of Health and Demographic Transitions – The rapid fertility declines since the 1960s have resulted in rapidly aging populations. These changes in population size and ratios have had dramatic effects on population distribution, living conditions, family structures, fiscal balances, and a whole host of other factors key to human welfare. View description and current projects.
Population Mobility: Migration in a Global Economy – Migration is a complex global phenomenon that has grown rapidly in recent decades. Resulting 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. View description and current projects.
Health Consequences of Labor Policies and Work Design – Labor 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. View description and current projects.