Insegnamento a.a. 2019-2020


Department of Social and Political Sciences

Course taught in English
Go to class group/s: 31
EMIT (6 credits - I sem. - OP  |  SECS-S/04)
Course Director:

Classes: 31 (I sem.)

Lezioni della classe erogate in presenza

Suggested background knowledge

There are no specific prerequisites for this course, though it is helpful to have a decent knowledge of statistics, some experience of data management and use of statistical software packages.

Mission & Content Summary


The relevance of demographic change for present economic and societal dynamics cannot be ignored. Low fertility and population ageing have emerged in developed countries, while high fertility, high population growth and health threats, largely intertwined with poverty, continue to affect population dynamics and economic development in developing countries. Migration connects the South to the North of the world in an important way. This course provides a graduate-level introduction to the study of population, ranging from formal and applied demographic techniques to the study of current population trends and of their interrelationships with the economy. The course is divided into four themes - all central in demography and population dynamics. For each theme, we introduce key measurements and methods, show recent converging/differential geographical trends, give an overview of how social scientists have approached the theme over recent years - for then to present cutting edge and up to date research issues.


The key themes of the course are:

  • Population structure and demographic processes (fertility, mortality, migration).
  • Ageing: drivers and economic consequences.
  • Population and environment.
  • Family change: women's revolution, labor force participation and gender equality.
  • From boom to bust: international perspectives on fertility.
  • Health, life expectancy, mortality and inequality.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILO)


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Explain and estimate the basic concepts and measures of population structure.
  • Describe the processes of births, migration and deaths in historical and current perspective (the demographic transition).
  • Estimate age distributions and illustrate its relevance for the economy.
  • Describe and estimate measurements of fertility, and distinguish postponement and tempo effects.
  • Describe the role of fertility for economic development.
  • Describe international patterns of migration.
  • Explain the concept of the "second demographic" transition.
  • Describe the concept of life course analysis.
  • Explain the concept of gender equity and equality.
  • Estimate life tables and life expectancy.
  • Summarize contemporary debates on longevity and mortality.


At the end of the course student will be able to...
  • Apply demographic methods to compute measures of population structure and processes.
  • Analyze and compare country differences in terms of demographic behaviour.
  • Compare and examine countries in terms of the first and second demographic transition.
  • Evaluate country differences in terms of life expectancy and mortality rates.
  • Design, plan and prepare an independent research paper on population dynamics.

Teaching methods

  • Face-to-face lectures
  • Exercises (exercises, database, software etc.)
  • Individual assignments
  • Group assignments


Each of the themes have exercises that are discussed in class. It is expected that students study the assigned material prior to class. Part of the assessment is based on a written assignment that can be done either individually or in a group of no more than three students. We discuss in class topics and the approach for implementing those assignments. 

Assessment methods

  Continuous assessment Partial exams General exam
  • Written individual exam (traditional/online)
  x x
  • Individual assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  x x
  • Group assignment (report, exercise, presentation, project work etc.)
  x x


The written exam counts 50% whereas an assignment/research paper counts for the remaining 50%.

  • The written exam consists of a 1st partial (covering the material presented in Parts 1 and 2). The 2nd partial covers the material from Parts 3 and 4.
  • The research paper can be done in groups (up to maximum of three students). The length should be around 5,000 words, and should be based on the themes presented in the course. Data sources and instructions on how to implement the assignment are provided. The exam and the essay are valid until the end of the academic year.

Teaching materials


Course material consists of lecture slides, book chapters and a series of journal articles. These are made available to the students at the beginning of the semester.

Last change 15/06/2019 08:30