The Population Studies Center (PSC) at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) has fostered research and training in population since 1962 with support from NICHD P30/R24/P2C infrastructure grants since 1978. Our goal is to maintain our position as a national and world leader in research on the dynamic structure, organization, and health and well-being of human populations. The PSC is characterized by strong continuity in the production of high-quality research on the major themes of the Population Dynamics Branch (PDB): demography, population-based studies of health and human development, and behavioral and social science approaches to sexually transmitted diseases and reproductive health.

We focus on five primary research areas (PRAs): (1) New Dynamics of Population Diversity, including racial/ethnic composition, internal and international migration, and urbanization, (2) Formal Demography and Demographic Methods, including fertility and reproductive health, and mortality (3) Child Development and Human Endowments, (4) Structures of Inequality and the Life Course, including changing mechanisms of social mobility, and (5) Population and the Environment, addressing both the demographic causes and consequences of environmental change.

The heart of the PSC is its Research Associates, who come from over a dozen academic departments spread across numerous Schools, including Arts and Sciences (primarily Sociology and Economics, but also Anthropology, Criminology, and Psychology), Wharton (Health Care Management, Business Economics and Public Policy), Medicine (Medical Ethics & Health Policy, Pediatrics, Psychiatry), Communications, Law, Nursing, and Social Policy. The PSC staff support their research, including administration, computing and other information technology, library and bibliographic services, and expertise in issues related to human subjects. PSC Research Associates are heavily represented on national scientific boards and commissions and have earned numerous honors reserved for recognized leaders in the study of population processes and understanding the nation’s health. Their work has had demonstrable impacts on public programs and legislation in the United States and abroad.  

The center provides a collaborative, interdisciplinary research environment in which to develop and mentor early career demographers, apply innovative approaches and methods to current demographic challenges, and partner with local and international organizations whose diverse perspectives inform policy-relevant issues in demographic research. The PSC supports the development and execution of numerous awards from NIH and other grantors for research in demography and health. By providing an administrative and intellectual infrastructure, the PSC efficiently encourages, supports, and integrates more and better research than would be feasible in its absence. We have made significant investments in faculty, research support, and computing resources to remain well-positioned to produce rigorous, high-impact population research. In the upcoming cycle, we propose to use this capital to continue the professional and scientific development of early-career scientists and to promote innovation in population science.

The PSC and its Research Associates have long benefited from support from a number of federal and private research funding mechanisms and from dedicated support from Penn's School of Arts and Sciences (the administrative home of the PSC).

Current Leadership:

  • Emilio A. Parrado, Director, Population Studies Center; Dorothy Swaine Thomas Professor of Sociology; Senior Leader, Administrative Core
  • Paula Fomby, Associate Director, Population Studies Center; Professor of Sociology; Senior Leader, Development Core
  • Xi Song, Associate Professor of Sociology; Senior Leader, Science & Technology Core
  • Iliana Kohler, Associate Director of Training, Population Studies Center; Practice Associate Professor in Sociology
  • Michel Guillot, Chair, Graduate Group in Demography; Professor of Sociology