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


Department Digital and Computational Demography


Department Emeritus Group James W. Vaupel

Dying in hospital

Declining trend, but not for everyone

Measuring working life

Official retirement age is not the only factor that determines the duration of our working life

Mortality already improved in the GDR

German reunification was not the only factor responsible for the rapid increase in life expectancy in East Germany.

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.

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


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.

Science Communication Editor (m/f)

Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock November 30, 2018

Assistant Managing Editor

Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock November 21, 2018

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.


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.


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.


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.

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