European societies today face multiple challenges that are related to demographic trends. Consider the implications of population ageing and increasing longevity for health care and social security systems, the consequences of changing household structures for poverty and social protection, low birth rates that require a revision of both labour market and family policies, or declining labour forces that threaten to curtail economic growth and that give rise to heated public debates on migration and identity throughout societies in Europe. As a result, understanding current and future challenges in European societies in many cases requires a firm understanding of how demographic trends with respect to fertility, mortality and migration in recent decades have conditioned European population trends for decades to come.
This course adopts a multilayered approach to European population issues. On a first level we consider a broad range of frequently used demographic indicators and discuss their interpretation (and limitations) to understand (and assess) the information they convey about recent demographic trends in Europe. Subsequently, on a second level, we delve into the various mechanisms that have driven demographic change with respect to mortality, union formation, fertility and migration in recent decades to develop a learned perspective on potential future trends. Finally, on a third level, we address the complex interplay between structure and change to understand how past demographic developments with respect to fertility, mortality and migration have shaped current population composition or structures, and how these in turn condition future population trends. The course is divided into 10 chapters:
Chapter 1 provides an overview of demographic challenges in Europe and serves as an introduction to materials and topics that are considered in detail in subsequent chapters.
Chapter 2 provides an introduction to a number of demographic fundamentals that provide the key to understanding demographic indicators and methods.
Chapter 3 provides a concise history of population trends and population studies up to the mid-twentieth century, specifically focusing on the first and second demographic transitions, as well as the epidemiological transition.
Chapter 4 considers the data used in demography and demographic research. This chapter includes a review of data infrastructures from state-of-the-art international research programs (GGS, DHS, IPUMS,…) that are readily available to researchers.
Chapter 5 addresses population composition or structure, with a special focus on the (changing) age and household structures in European societies.
Chapter 6 turns to the analysis of mortality and introduces a large part of the toolkit that demographers have at their disposal to study population trends. Building on this methodological knowledge, the chapter devotes considerable attention to socio-economic differentials in health and mortality.
Chapter 7 deals with the analyses of union formation, marriage, union dissolution and divorce, specifically focusing on the weakening link between marriage and fertility in recent decades.
Chapter 8 addresses the analysis of fertility trends, notably focusing on the emergence of subreplacement fertility that has emerged as a major force driving population aging in European societies.
Chapter 9 discusses the factors driving international migration, the debate on (replacement) migration in a context of low fertility, recent trends in migration, but also at the socio-economic position (educational trajectories, labour market outcomes,...) of migrants and their descendants in receiving countries.
Chapter 10 provides a brief discussion of life tables and discrete-time hazard models that are routinely used in demographic analysis to study population change. This chapter also provides the theoretical basis for the computer lab sessions.