Department of Demography

Our Department

demography seal imageAs world population rises toward seven billion and life expectancy in developed nations rises above 80 years, demographic forces drive the shape of global challenges and personal opportunities.  Students and faculty at the Department of Demography at UC Berkeley study the deep structure behind these changes.  Emphases include the potential for further extensions of lifespan in mathematical, evolutionary, and empirical context; economic transfers, both public and private, between age groups and generations and their links with poverty, prosperity, economic growth, and lifetime choices; culture and intentionality in fertility and family formation; affiliation and opportunity in a spatially and socially mobile world; and the emerging field of human rights demography, the measurement of victimization and need in the face of violence and complex emergencies.

Continuing a tradition begun in 1965, the Department of Demography offers training for advanced degrees in demography. The program is one of the very few in the United States granting graduate degrees in demography, rather than treating the subject as a field of specialization within another discipline, typically sociology. This training strategy permits greater concentration and depth in demography, as well as program flexibility and breadth in related subjects, helping students to attain both competence in the quantitative aspects of demography and breadth in social science theory and substance. A special characteristic of the program is its emphasis on individual interest, allowing students to pursue their own intellectual concerns while preserving the highest standards through rigorous theoretical and methodological training.

Training and research explore anthropological, economic, historical, mathematical, statistical, and social aspects of demography. Computer applications, including exploratory statistical analysis and microsimulation techniques, are strongly emphasized. The Department has advanced computing facilities consisting of state-of-the-art UNIX workstations and servers, networked PCs, and access to IBM mainframe services. The Department has its own non-circulating library, the Allan Sharlin Memorial Library, hosting a wide collection of books and periodicals in the field of demography.

Periodically the Demography Department, in conjuction with the Anthropology Department, will select a qualified student to be the recipient of the Eugene A. and Joan S. Hammel Dissertation Prize in Demographic Studies.

In addition to Demography Department core faculty and Graduate Group in Sociology and Demography core faculty, a larger group of affiliated faculty from other departments and schools participate in instruction and dissertation supervision; they have a permanent representative in the departmental governance. In addition, distinguished visitors teach in the department. Recent examples include Georges Tapinos, Shripad Tuljapurkar, and Massimo Livi-Bacci.

The Department occupies a large house built in 1909 by renowned architect Julia Morgan, an arrangement conducive to the informal atmosphere and frequent student-faculty contact characterizing the program. Daily afternoon tea in the lounge is a cherished and much enjoyed departmental tradition during which everyone partakes in discussions ranging from university life and research topics, to sports, movies, and national politics. All Demography graduate students have workspace in the building. More details on the building can be found in the campus Historic Structure report for 2232 Piedmont Ave.

For more details on the founding of the department, see Gene Hammel's unexpurgated History of Demography at Berkeley(pdf).

Resources around Campus

Because Demography is a small department at Berkeley, it is important to consider the educational resources available in other units on campus as well. The findings of the 1995 Report by the National Research Council on “Quality in Ph.D. Education in the U.S.” are informative. The study considered the views of nearly 8000 distinguished faculty members nationwide and used multiple criteria to assess the quality of doctoral programs. Faculty achievements, research, and publications were evaluated, for example, as well as each institution's effectiveness in educating future scholars and scientists. In the NRC report, UC Berkeley took top honors by having the highest number of programs in the top ten and the highest number of “distinguished” programs. In particular, it is worth noting that Berkeley departments ranked at or near the top in several fields closely related to Demography: Anthropology (3rd), Economics (7th), History (2nd), Sociology (3rd), Statistics/Biostatistics (1st and 3rd). (There are no national rankings for the field of demography itself.)


teatimeThe graduate student population is well balanced, with almost equal numbers of women and men (fluctuations occur with each incoming class). About half of these students are international scholars from Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa. The Department's graduation rate is above 90%.

Graduates of the Demography programs at UC Berkeley have found positions in academic institutions such as Harvard University, Indiana University, Cornell University, University of California (Irvine and Berkeley), University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas (Austin), University of Navarre (Spain), Hebrew University (Israel), Princeton University, University of Wisconsin (Madison), Madrid University (Spain), Beijing University (P.R. China), etc.; at research institutes such as Mountain View Research, National Institute of Population and Social Research (Japan), National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED, France), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Public Policy Institute of California, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (Germany), etc.; in state and federal government atthe National Research Council, US Agency for International Development, US Census Bureau, Office of California Statewide Health Planning, etc.; as well as private and public foundations, such as Kaiser Permanente.

The academic program in demography begins with regularly scheduled courses and seminars. They are augmented by individually designed reading courses, departmental colloquia and lecture series, personal advising and supervision by the graduate adviser and faculty members, as well as informal study groups with peers. Research assistantships, financed through faculty research grants, complement academic courses in developing professional skills. Teaching assistantships help to develop teaching abilities and credentials.


Wednesday Brown Bag Series

The Brown Bag series is an opportunity for the campus demography community to present either works in progress or completed works in an informal setting. The lectures are hosted during the school year every Wednesday at noon in the Demography Conference Room.

Bay Area Colloquium in Population (BACPOP)

The BACPOP is a monthly seminar sponsored jointly by the Department of Demography and the Institute for International Studies (IIS) at UC Berkeley. Noted demographers and scholars from related fields make up the list of invited speakers to this seminar series, which brings together specialists interested in demography from the entire Bay Area, including Stanford University and UC Davis. The seminar takes place the first Thursday of each month during the school year. After the presentations, those interested generally continue discussions over dinner at a nearby restaurant.