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Demography and health

Demography is concerned with the analysis of population size and structure, especially in relation to its determinants, fertility, mortality and migration. Demography underpins many major social and policy issues, including global population growth, the challenges of population ageing and the implications of migration. These areas are closely inter-connected: fewer children will put pressure on informal care and pensions costs for older populations, but possible responses such as increasing fertility and/or mass migration raise thorny policy issues.

A major strength of the population staff at LSE Health lies in its breadth of disciplinary expertise and substantive interests. Group members have training in, and apply the methods of, anthropology, demography, statistics, and biology to the investigation of population issues. The group is highly regarded by its peers and active in population activities both inside and outside the academic community. Work on external bodies includes: Chair of the ESRC Demography Subject Area Panel; editorial boards of peer-reviewed journals (Demographic Research, Human Nature, Journal of Evolutionary Psychology); advisors/consultants to both governmental (e.g. DfID) and international (e.g. World Bank, UNDP) organisations; and, active council members of professional bodies (British Society for Population Studies, Galton Institute).

The Population group has recently raised the profile of population research at the LSE by developing the Population at LSE portal, which brings together information on both research and teaching activities in population across all departments at LSE (which is the home of the Population Investigation Committee, the journal Population Studies, and the British Society for Population Studies). This website will be continually updated with new developments in population at LSE: http:/www.lse.ac.uk/populationAtLSE|.

A multi-disciplinary ESRC-funded project, Modelling Needs and Resources of Older People to 2030, led by Professor Mike Murphy with colleagues from a variety of disciplines, is investigating key issues such as how trends in mortality and morbidity will evolve; if the extra years of life will be lived in good health; the consequences of changes in family circumstances on the availability of informal sources of care and for older people's social participation; and how these domains interact with each other and differ between socio-economic groups. The project will produce an integrated set of forecasts about the circumstances of older people in decades to come.

Future research plans within the group involve the development of new externally-funded programmes of policy-relevant and methodological research alongside consolidation of existing research in a wide range of substantive and methodological projects, some in collaboration with colleagues from related disciplines. Future work of the Population Group will concentrate especially on:

Integration of biological and social science (especially anthropological) approaches with two substantive projects. Intergenerational relationships in sub-Saharan Africa will be expanded into a comparative international analysis; life history optimisation models will be used to explore relationships between reproduction, health and mortality in the context of high mortality-high fertility populations. New work includes developing a research agenda into the context of reproductive desires, intentions and behaviour among late reproducing couples in the UK

Reproductive health. Within the context of risk of HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa and India, several themes are emerging, including: reasons for non-use of condoms within marriage; the relationships between violence against women and HIV/AIDS risk; and, the interplay between rural-urban socio-economic migration and sexual behaviour. Work is currently being developed on the barriers to, and burdens of, post-abortion care in sub-Saharan Africa

Demography of crises. Assessing the social and demographic consequences of conflicts and crises, such as forced migration and displacement and its health consequences in the Balkans and Central Asian Republics and the effects of post-communist societal transformation in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Demographic modelling. The group has strong expertise in modelling and projecting populations. Methodological developments currently being developed by the group include: micro-simulation modelling for the construction of formal models of intergenerational transmission.

Methodological developments. The group's methodological strengths lie in its breadth and depth of methodological expertise. The multi-disciplinary nature of the group means that methodological developments span both quantitative and qualitative work. For example, ESRC-funded research is investigating the impact of a priori household definitions in surveys on measures of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.