Processes of Human Capital Formation (Theme A)

As all human capital starts with individual births, we must start with the comprehensive analysis of fertility and the family settings into which babies are born. WIC Research Group 1, Family and Fertility, studies global fertility trends and family change, with a focus on lower-fertility countries in general and a comparative European perspective in particular. We emphasize the institutional (e.g. family and labour market policies), socio-economic and cultural (e.g. gender role attitudes) determinants of family plans and their realisation. Furthermore, we look at educational differentials in fertility rates across countries and over time focusing in particular also on trends in childlessness and fertility preferences as well as in child health and well-being of parents and children. These topics are also considered within a broader context of intergenerational relations including recently also collaborations with colleagues from East Asia and Latin America. Methodologically the group combines individual-level and macro-level analysis of fertility and family changes. It is very active in collecting and disseminating data on fertility (e.g. Human Fertility Database - HFD, Human Fertility Collection - HFC, Cohort Fertility and Education database - CFE).

The second major component of the research theme on human capital formation focuses on the process of learning and formal education (WIC Research Group 2, Demography of Education). The challenges lie in developing more precise indicators and models of school enrolment and progression to higher grades that correspond to best practice demographic standards, in empirically assessing their trends in different parts of the world, in analysing their drivers, and in developing quantitative models of their likely future trends. Increasingly this team will also address the quality of education and the assessment of adult skills.

Migration which is covered by WIC Research Group 4 (Migration: Drivers and Impacts), has both elements of human capital formation (migration gains by level of education) and human capital depletion (migration losses by level of education). While over the past years WIC researchers have made path-breaking contributions to estimating the first complete matrix of bi-lateral global migration streams, currently and for the near future the focus is on studying the drivers of migration in the context of population ageing in Europe and population growth in potential sending countries as well as the potentials for integration of migrants by education and other characteristics. This is primarily done in the context of the new IIASA/EC-JRC Centre of Expertise on Migration and Population.

The research group on the Demography of Austria (WIC Research Group 5) is part of VID’s function to also serve as the leading centre of expertise on Austrian demography. Following the WIC agenda it covers human capital formation in Austria (fertility, education, in-migration) as well as human capital depletion (mortality, disability, out-migration). Currently, the emphasis is on the arrival and integration potential of the wave of asylum seekers into Austria during the second half of 2015.

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.