Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

With life expectancy increasing even as birth rates decline, the social and political consequences that demographic change entails are just some of the many issues addressed by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock. Further projects are dedicated to the genetic, medical and biological aspects of ageing, and to the transformation of the human lifecycle. Still other work deals with the stability of family patterns in Europe over the centuries, the correlation between politics and demographic change, and the issue of how institutional, political and economic changes in Europe have affected the population.


Konrad-Zuse-Straße 1
18057 Rostock
Phone: +49 381 2081-0
Fax: +49 381 2081-202

PhD opportunities

This institute has no International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS).

There is always the possibility to do a PhD. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

Department Population Health, Fertility and Well-Being more
Department Survival and Longevity, Evolutionary Biodemography more
Mortality already improved in the GDR
German reunification was not the only factor responsible for the rapid increase in life expectancy in East Germany. more
Later-borns choose less prestigious programmes at university
First-borns are more likely to study more prestigious subjects at university such as medicine and engineering and can thus expect greater earnings than later-borns, who turn to arts, journalism and teaching. more
A healthy lifestyle increases life expectancy by up to seven years
Maintaining a normal weight, not smoking, and drinking alcohol at moderatel levels add healthy years to life more
Women in East Germany will be more likely to die from smoking than those in West Germany
Max Planck researcher criticizes insufficient anti-smoking policies more
No spoilers! Most people don’t want to know their future
Learning what the future holds, good or bad, not appealing to most, study says more
The great unknown: risk-taking behaviour in adolescents
Teenagers are driven to seek new experiences more
Less children per man than per woman
Birthrates for men in Germany made available for the first time. more
Individual lifespans are becoming more similar
Scientists discover a novel regularity for vastly different human societies and epochs more
Life expectancy: trends among the highly educated show the way
Higher education levels can reduce mortality especially in older people more
Out of Britain
UK votes to leave EU after dramatic night divides nation. What demographers have to say about Brexit and why migration research is top of the European agenda more
“We don’t know nearly enough about migration”
Leading researchers in the field of migration call for better data on migration flows for research and policy-making

Families unmarried

Families unmarried

April 21, 2016
Unmarried births are becoming the norm in Western Europe, but their share is falling in Eastern Europe. more
Children of older mothers do better
The benefits associated with being born in a later year outweigh the biological risks associated with being born to an older mother. more
Is there a guide to long life?
Life expectancy disparities between population groups have been increasing more
Culture during childhood shapes family planning
Women born in Turkey become mothers earlier and more often after migrating to Germany than women born in Germany to Turkish parents more
It’s easy to overlook the marginalized. Social exclusion can have very different causes and consequences – also in the context of migration. Six Max Planck Institutes have now joined forces for a cross-institute project focusing on the topic. The project examines, among other things, the question of why immigrants often lose their good health. It explores what prompts Somalis to move from Europe to Kenya, and what consequences the deal between the EU and Turkey might have for the rights of asylum seekers in Greece. Their common aim is to uncover exclusion and develop fair rules to regulate migration.
Eternal life lasts a very long time. Nevertheless, Ralf Schaible from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock can already affirm that the freshwater polyp Hydra comes quite close to this ideal. In a long-term experiment initiated by the institute’s Director James W. Vaupel, he and his colleagues investigate why, under certain circumstances, Hydra doesn’t age.
Demographers are astounded at the way human mortality continues to drop. This trend started well over a hundred years ago. What used to be a statistical investigation of death rates has now developed into the science of longevity. This is what Jutta Gampe focuses on at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock.
Although everyone is talking about species protection, the lack of information about the species that need to be conserved can be quite shocking. To ensure that threatened animal species can be protected more effectively, the research team working with Dalia Amor Conde in the Conservation Demography Research Area of the Evolutionary Biodemography department headed by James W. Vaupel at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock is using special methods to gather important data about the lives of endangered animals.
The official statistics would have us believe that the "immigrant fate" guarantees a long life - and not only in Germany. According to official figures, the life expectancy of migrants far exceeds that of their fellow host-country citizens. Rembrandt Scholz, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, is investigating whether this is due to a healthy lifestyle or to errors in the recorded statistics.
Personal Portrait: James W. Vaupel
The future age structure in Germany will have a significant impact on social policy.
Initially, Joshua R. Goldstein didn’t know exactly where Rostock was located. However, he was lured by the excellent reputation of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research – and recently took over as Director.
The structure of the population is changing
– in Germany and in the world as a whole.
Laura Bernardi from the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock takes a close look at the lives of families and analyzes their plans.
PhD Positions
Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock November 29, 2017

Women live longer but men are healthier

2018 Oksuzyan, Anna
Social and Behavioural Sciences
There are gender differences in health. Although women on average live longer, they generally suffer from poorer health than men. Researcher Anna Oksuzyan investigates the reasons at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. What adds to the complexity of her research is that the differences between men and women vary across countries and cultures. more

Lifespans becoming more similar

2017 Colchero, Fernando; Rau, Roland; Scheuerlein, Alexander; Schwentker, Björn; Vaupel, James W.
Social and Behavioural Sciences

The higher the life expectancy in a society, the smaller the difference between the ages at which people will die. This relation can be described by a mathematical rule, as demographic data from many countries show. The relationship holds not only for very different human cultures and epochs, but similarly for non-human primates. Although separated by millions of years of evolution, for both humans and non-human primates the lives of females tend to be longer than the lives of males, suggesting deep evolutionary roots to the male disadvantage.



A long-term perspective on the evolution of social life-expectancy differentials

2016 Willführ, Kai P.; van Hedel, Karen; Myrskylä, Mikko
Social and Behavioural Sciences
In almost all welfare states, life expectancy has been rising across the social strata, but more rapidly so in the higher social classes, resulting in remarkable life-expectancy differentials between the lower and the higher social classes over time. Contributing factors are not only poorer life and working conditions of the lower social classes, but also different smoking, drinking, and dietary habits. Analyses of historical data indicate that social life-expectancy differentials emerged as late as in the 18th and 19th centuries. more

Drastic changes in regional life-expectancy disparities in Germany: In search of the determinants

2015 Klüsener, Sebastian; Scholz, Rembrandt; Kibele, Eva
Social and Behavioural Sciences
Over the last 100 years, marked changes have occurred in Germany’s regional life-expectancy patterns. These include differences between the eastern and western part of the country and substantial shifts in the disparities between northern and southern Germany. By the beginning of the 20th century, the northern regions had the highest life expectancy, while the southern regions had the lowest levels. Today, this pattern is largely reversed. Research projects at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research look into the determinants of these mortality trends. more
For more than 150 years, the Western world has seen steady increases in average life expectancy. Controversy remains over why an increasing number of people is getting older and older. Germany divided and unified offers a unique opportunity to analyze the impact of changing living conditions on the development of mortality. After forty years of different political, social, and economic conditions as well as diverging life expectancy, the Fall of the Berlin Wall heralded the harmonization of living standards and the convergence of mortality levels between the two states formerly divided. more

Family change in Eastern and Western Germany: differences and similarities

2013 Kreyenfeld, Michaela; Trappe, Heike
Social and Behavioural Sciences
Twenty years into German unification, one would have expected East-West differences in attitudes, living conditions and behavior to have gradually converged. While this holds for many areas of life, this does not apply to the family domain. Family structures and maternal employment patterns still differ radically between the two parts of the country. The panel study DemoDiff, monitored by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, is getting to the bottom of these differences. more

Demographic Change, the Individual Life Cycle and Intergenerational Transfers

2012 Kluge, Fanny Annemarie
Social and Behavioural Sciences
How does demographic change impact the life cycle? How will public finances, private transfers or savings rates develop in the future? These questions are of vital importance to future societal arrangements and economic prospects and are thus tackled by research carried out at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock. This article shows how the individual economic life cycle is characterized in Germany, how it varies across regions and time, and how it impacts on the sustainability of public finances. more

Regional demography in Germany: The South expects more from life

2011 Kibele, Eva
Social and Behavioural Sciences
The average life expectancy of men and women in Germany is highly fluctuating. Thus, a man, who lives in the southern prosperous regions, can expect to live nearly 77 years. A compatriot in an economically underdeveloped region, however, dies on average almost four years earlier. The reasons for these big differences are associated with economic, social and population structures of the regions and the quality of health care policy. more

Life, aging, and dying: A review across species

2010 Schaible, Ralf; Rebke, Maren; Cassens, Insa; Scheuerlein, Alexander
The process of aging is more plastic than is commonly assumed and stipulated by classical theory on the evolution of aging. Deviations abound across the tree of life: There are species that do not age, and species that escape a steady increase in mortality. In some species, mortality even declines in certain phases of life. An analysis of these species’ life-history strategies may answer the question: How is it possible to live long? more
In many European states, fertility and marriage behavior have undergone significant changes over the last decades. In the wake of such processes, new demographic behavioral patterns evolve in some regions earlier or more strongly so than in others. An analysis of the spatial origins of these changes and their development over space and time provides new insights into the underlying factors. more

Population and Policy: Establishing a new integrative research approach

2008 Wilkoszewski, Harald
Social and Behavioural Sciences
Population ageing, low fertility and increasing disparities of family forms and life course patterns in Europe have put the interdependencies between politics and demography at the centre of public debate. Studies of the newly founded Laboratory of Population and Policy / PoL at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock show that demographic change may have a lasting effect on political systems both on the national and the European level. more

Education and mortality in Central and Eastern Europe

2007 Jasilionis, Domantas (MPIDR); Jdanov, Dmitri (MPIDR); Leinsalu, Mall (Stockholm Centre on Health of Societies in Transition, University College, Schweden)
Social and Behavioural Sciences
The political and socio-economic transition in Central and Eastern European countries was associated with a notable variation in mortality trends. Russia, Lithuania, and Estonia experienced large fluctuations and increases in mortality. Findings of a research project at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research demonstrate that improvements in population education in these countries counterbalanced the overall mortality increase. more

Fertility and family policy: results of comparative studies on the Nordic countries

2006 Neyer, Gerda
Cultural Studies Social and Behavioural Sciences
What impact do institutional and political factors have on the development of fertility and family dynamics in Europe? Comparative research conducted by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research provides new insights into the complex relationship between family policy and childbearing behavior. more

Evolutionary demography: new perspectives for research on ageing and longevity

2005 James W. Vaupel; Kristín G. v. Kistowski
Evolutionary Biology Social and Behavioural Sciences
Evolutionary demography is an emerging field at the cutting edge between demography, evolutionary ecology, life-history biology and mathematics. This interdisciplinary approach sheds light on the fundamental question of why we age by understanding the general mechanisms that shape the evolution of age-trajectories of mortality, fertility, growth, resource acquisitions and transfers. more

Fertility dynamics and family forms after the German reunification

2004 Konietzka, Dirk; Kreyenfeld, Michaela
Social and Behavioural Sciences
The transformation of East Germany's legal and political system has provided researchers with rich opportunities to study the effect of radical social change on fertility and life course patterns. From a family-research perspective, understanding the extent to which timing in marriage and family formation has changed since unification is particularly interesting. Despite a substantial increase following unification, the age at first parenthood in eastern Germany has not reached West German levels. Family- and fertility-related behavior in both parts of Germany also differs as to marriage patterns, living arrangements, and the employment behavior of mothers. Many aspects of demographic change in eastern Germany and Eastern Europe are not yet fully understood. The "Gender and Generations Program" will collect both individual level and contextual data for theoretically innovative, comparative analyses of changing family dynamics after system transformation. more
Go to Editor View