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The aim of the Centre is to promote research into the demographic problems that face the world in the 21st century, to monitor and project their trends, analyse their underlying causes and consequences and evaluate the challenges and opportunities that they present. OXPOP has historically focused on research into demographic developments in ‘developed’ countries but in recent years has broadened its geographical reach to include emerging East-Asian economies.

A longer-term aim is to promote more speculative forward thinking and demographic 'trouble-shooting' about future demographic issues as well as conventional scientific research, including the stability of demographic systems and their relation to the physical and economic environment. An integrated programme of research is being developed, incorporating existing work and new initiatives all oriented to contemporary and future population related developments in the UK and the rest of the developed world.

Strands of work include:

  • the future of fertility and the demographic consequences of migration and the demography of ethnic minorities;
  • the childbearing behaviour of ethnic minority groups and second-generation immigrants in the UK with funding from the British Academy, the ESRC and the Nuffield Foundation;
  • ultra-low fertility rates and their policy implications, funded by BP Ltd and the ESRC, has broadened the geographic reach of the cluster, and has been instrumental in the development of expertise in East-Asian economies; and
  • development of a focus on and reputation in large macro demographic questions.

In the 21st century new demographic developments, unprecedented in history, face the fifty countries of the developed world. These trends may be summarised as 'fewer babies, longer lives, diverse households, older populations, more immigrants', all of which raise important theoretical issues and practical problems. It is generally supposed that most of these characteristics will eventually be shared by all human populations. Within the developed world itself, however, divergence is often more apparent than convergence, pointing to some diversity in population futures. For a discussion of some of these issues see Working Papers nos. 10, 17, and 33.


The study of populations and demographics is explained in detail in a series of podcasts by Professor David Coleman.