Insegnamento a.a. 2022-2023


Department of Social and Political Sciences

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

Classes: 31 (I sem.)

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. You will however be OK even if you do not have that background.

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. In addition, this year the World is seeing the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which will affect population dynamics in significant ways. 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 two parts. First, we introduce key measurements and methods, show recent converging/differential geographical trends. The second part continues with an introduction to the actuarial calculations, before moving on to cutting edge issues in population studies.


The key themes of the course are:

  • Population structure and demographic processes (fertility, mortality, migration).
  • Life expectancy, mortality and inequality.
  • Actuarial techniques
  • COVID-19 and its consequences
  • Fertility trends 
  • Poverty and fertility
  • Cultural and institutional aspects of population dynamics
  • Family change: women's revolution, labor force participation and gender equality.
  • Resilience, recessions and population change
  • Digital demography

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
  • Online lectures
  • Exercises (exercises, database, software etc.)
  • Individual assignments
  • Group assignments


There will be 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 project/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. We also provide topics and data sources for possible projects.

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 the first part of the course). The 2nd partial covers the material from the second part of the course. 
  • 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 14/06/2022 15:32