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Einstein Center Population Diversity


Freie Universität Berlin, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Population Europe, Berlin, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Science, WZB Berlin Social Science Center / Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, Leverhul

Apr 01, 2024 — Mar 30, 2027


Our societies are becoming more heterogeneous, with fast changes that lead to a wider diversity in population. Demographic changes such as growing longevity and increasing family diversity play key roles in shaping our current and future societies. While seen as an opportunity, diversity also entails potential risks of inequalities such as segregation, social exclusion, or disparities in health and education. To deal with its opportunities and challenges, we need in-depth knowledge of the complex mechanisms that drive population diversity and inequality along the life course. It is necessary to cooperate in a consortium of research institutions, with an intersectional and interdisciplinary approach on how demographic and family diversity can affect critical dimensions of social and health inequality.


The Einstein Center Population Diversity (ECPD) will study the consequences of increasing population diversity for social inequality and health disparities by focusing on the growing diversity of families, including changing conceptions and boundaries of the family itself. The family is a crucial, if not the primary, arena where inequalities are (re-)produced within and across generations, in and through the continuous interaction with social policy, the labor market, and educational institutions. Thus, changing family patterns and behavior are both a source of growing population diversity on the societal level and a driver of social inequality and wellbeing on the individual and household level.

The ECPD will transcend disciplinary silos by linking biomedical sciences and social sciences, to conduct collaborative research on the interrelations between family diversity, health, education, and Einstein Center Population Diversity social inequalities in aging societies. This will be done by a group of leading scholars in demography, sociology, medicine, psychology, and health sciences. The ECPD will be thus uniquely situated to investigate the biological, psychological, social, and environmental pathways and mechanisms as well as their interrelations operating at the family level.

Given the societal relevance of understanding the interrelations of family and population diversity in the key outcomes of education, economic welfare and health from a life course perspective, the ECPD will pursue the following three overarching research ambitions:

  1. To assess the implications of growing population and family diversity for social and health inequalities and to identify promising targets and approaches for intervention
  2. To advance our understanding of social and health inequalities through the integration of biomedical and social science
  3. To capture the social and health consequences of current and potential future global crises and changes for individuals, families and societies

The ECPD will firmly establish social demography in Berlin and Germany. It will promote a broader conceptual understanding of how health research, including aging, disability, mobility, and mortality as well as biological or epigenetic perspectives can enrich social science and vice versa. By linking the two strands of research, the ECPD will overcome disciplinary fragmentation and move toward a more comprehensive and holistic understanding of how social and health inequalities are shaped through ongoing (mega)trends and their interaction with the family sphere, thus creating a scientific basis for tackling the paramount societal challenges ahead of us.­