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4 million Euros for New Demography Programme on Fertility

The role of education and environment in changing the fertility decisions and behaviour of women in developing countries will form the basis of a new Demography Research Programme to be undertaken by the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, funded by the European Foundation LSRP. The Programme grant will fund new posts in demography, and establish new international collaborations.

Max world population will reach somewhere between 6 and 15 billion by 2100 according to the UN.  The High variant 15 billion is generally recognised to place significant strain on the earth’s resources. The Medium variant 10 billion will be better but will still require a significant increase in the requirement for food, fresh water, energy and minerals. World population growth over the rest of the century will be focused in Africa, responsible for 2 billion of the predicted extra 3 billion under the medium variant scenario. Suchrapid population growth and high fertility threaten the well-being of individuals and communities in the poorest developing countries.

Professor Sarah Harper, Director of the new Programme said “While family planning/sexual and reproductive health programmes have made significant advances globally in helping women achieve the family size they desire, in some parts of the world, in particular sub-Saharan Africa, fertility decline is slowing or even stalling.  It is now widely recognised that we need more understanding of the drivers behind the uptake of family planning methods, and in particular the role that education and environment can play.”

“It is thus important that the drivers of fertility reduction are understood so that women can be able to choose the family size they desire.  This is not only because the growing  population will place considerable burden on the planet’s resources, but also because governments in the Least Developed Countries are increasingly recognise that such high birth rates are reducing the potential for development, and women in these countries are themselves calling for measures which will improve their own well-being and those of their existing children.”

The Programme will explore the role of education and environment in fertility decision making.

“The population-environment-development debate is important to us because it provides a framework for understanding inter sectoral linkages. Many researchers and policy makers are beginning to realise that holistic approaches to improving people’s lives and livelihoods including sexual and reproductive health along with  preserving their natural environment are needed” said Professor Harper.

This will be the first research programme to integrate both education and the environment into analysis of the fertility decisions of women. It will collate and develop research which emphasises the key importance of education as a driver of fertility reduction  and the growing  importance of environmental change  as a factor in household reproductive decision making, and the necessity of placing both  at the centre of fertility reduction programmes,

The Programme will build on the Clore Programme on Population and Environment, funded by the Clore Duffield Foundation and the James Martin Foundation. The  Programme will  enable the recruitment of new demographers at Oxford and the funding of key international population experts who will come to Oxford to work with the team at the Institute.

It will be named the Collen Programme in recognition of the academic vision of Professor Desire Collen, Chair of the LSRP, in proposing that the Foundation should develop such research.

The Programme will extend the  Institute’s existing expertise on population change in Africa, and their existing relationship with the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC), Naorobi, which already supports joint research through the secondment of an Institute  Research Fellow who is  already responsible for running APHRC’s contribution to the Pathfinder International Programme on Family Planning and Reproductive Health Services, working todeliver sound scientific evidence for policy and action to garner support for best practices for family planning and reproductive health with policy and decision makers globally, regionally and locally.

The Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, is a multidisciplinary research institute undertaking research into the implications of global population change, with particular expertise in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Based on the US Population Center model,  it was established in 1998 at the University of Oxford with a grant from NIH. It was a founding Institute of the Oxford Martin School in 2005.

Life Sciences Research Partners was founded by Professor Désiré Collen in 1988. The purpose of Life Sciences Research Partners is to carry out, promote and support scientific research in general and biomedical and biotechnological research in particular

The University of Oxford is one of the world's leading centres for the study of Africa. In every Faculty and Division across the University there are active research programmes focused on the continent.

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