Demography of Education

Our research on education across the world takes the view that individual education behaviour and outcomes, as well as their aggregate dynamics at the population level, can usefully be studied as demographic events and characteristics. This leads to both a substantive focus on the role of education in demographic processes such as the fertility and mortality transition and migration, but also to the application and transfer of demographic methods of analysis to the field of education. This methodological lens allows us to gain new insights on the demographic, socio-economic, long-term, and spatial dimensions both of international educational development in low-income and transitional countries and of higher education in particular in countries with high levels of schooling.


Age-Period-Cohort perspectives on educational measurement

International education statistics are frequently (mis)interpreted as relating unambiguously to specific reporting years. In reality, and similarly to demographic events, the underlying processes are best understood as varying along age, time (period), and cohort dimensions, and the correct interpretation of single-period summaries as 'synthetic cohorts' is subject to certain constraints.

Education as a cause and effect of demographic processes

Education is often strongly associated with fertility, mortality, and migration experiences. However, as a planned, long-term activity, schooling must in general be considered to be potentially endogenous with respect to all of the above. The study of these interactions is made more difficult by the fact that education is frequently used as a mere proxy for general socio-ecenomic status or even income.

Educational attainment projections

Long-term quantitative projections on a generational time scale have rarely been attempted in the field of education, despite the fact that education is intrinsically a long-term process that exerts its influence over the entire life-cycle. We project - under various scenarios - the attainment profile of successive cohorts in almost all countries of the world up for the next 50-100 years. These projections are based on modeling educational expansion over the past decades, taking into account both the potential for common trends and idiosyncratic country trajectories.

The Wittgenstein Centre aspires to be a world leader in the advancement of demographic methods and their application to the analysis of human capital and population dynamics. In assessing the effects of these forces on long-term human well-being, we combine scientific excellence in a multidisciplinary context with relevance to a global audience. It is a collaboration among the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the University of Vienna.