Economic demography explores the relationship between population and economy in a broad sense; how a population is influenced by economic development and in what ways do population changes affect the economy. The classical dilemma, still relevant in our times, is whether the economic resources will suffice for an ever-increasing population growth. Other areas of interest are the impact of economic aspects on the long-term decline in mortality and the diminishing family size that is linked to the demographic transition. Relevant contemporary research topics include the causes and consequences of long waves in births, and the impact of changing demographic age structure and composition on the economy. Yet another important area deals with the interplay between economic cycles and short-term variations in nuptiality, fertility, mortality and migration. Special interest is also given to studies on family and labour market, migration patterns, and health and mortality issues. All these areas are to a certain degree interrelated and by embracing them in a coherent framework of analysis we can e.g. study immigrants’ family formation, their fertility behaviour, their entry and exit on the labour market, and their health status and mortality patterns. The interdisciplinary character of the research program enables a holistic perspective on such research areas.
Over the last decades, economic demography has grown and developed into what is now a well-established and expanding research area at the Department of Economic History at Lund University. Both the works of Gunnar Fridlizius within the field of population development in the agrarian society, and the studies by Rolf Ohlsson on post-war immigration to Sweden, has served as sources of great inspiration for the existing research at the department. In 1978, Fridlizius and Ohlsson, together with their colleague Tommy Bengtsson, initiated a research program on the demographic transition in Sweden. Seminars and courses started in 1981 and throughout the 1980’s collaboration with researchers in economics and statistics were well under way. In the 1990’s, the expanding group of scholars was also complemented by colleagues from the disciplines of social medicine and social work. The members of the group also lecture in economic and demographic history as well as in labour market courses, on under-graduate and graduate levels alike.
Collaboration between senior researchers and graduate students to a large extent take place within externally financed projects. In all, there are roughly fifteen on-going projects and these are primarily focused on either historical demography – including studies of migration, mortality, fertility and household economy – or modern demography – with emphasis on migration, social welfare and health-care areas. Supplementing these individual projects, are two larger research programs, one concentrated on theoretical and methodological issues, and the second mainly studying the elderly and the economy, and both are financed by the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research.
The research group has a very extensive international network of contacts and cooperation. A number of the research projects in the group are formed as comparative surveys and continuous international exchange and guest lectures take place within the work of the group.
Areas of research:
- Factors behind changes in fertility: the long-term decline, the long waves, and the short-term variations
- Factors behind changes in mortality: the long-term decline, age-specific mortality, and causes of death
- Factors behind immigration, and emigration/return migration: economic and political aspects, and the economic integration of immigrants
- Immigrants and the social security systems; the health status of immigrants
- Demographic causes of changes in age composition
- Effects of decreasing child-births: the family, the school and educational system
- Effects of increasing longevity (individual ageing): the individual, the family, geriatric care, and the pension system
- Effects of changes in age composition (population ageing): the labour market, the health care system, and the pension system