Professor Sarah Harper CBE
MA Cantab; DPhil Oxon, Professor of Gerontology
Fellow, University College
+44 (0) 1865 612800
Sarah is Professor of Gerontology at the University of Oxford, a Fellow at University College, and the Founding Director of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing. Sarah served on the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology, which advises the Prime Minister on the scientific evidence for strategic policies and frameworks. In 2017 she served as the Director of the Royal Institution of Great Britain. Sarah is a Director and Trustee of the UK Research Integrity Office and a member of the Board of Health Data Research UK. Sarah was appointed a CBE in 2018 for services to Demography.
She chaired the UK government’s Foresight Review on Ageing Populations (2014-2016) and has chaired the Evaluation board of the Active Ageing Index for the EC/UNECE Population Board since 2015. She is a Governor of the Pensions Policy Institute. She is a Fellow of the Royal Anthropology Institute. Sarah’s research was recognized by the 2011 Royal Society for Public Health: Arts and Health Research Award.
Sarah has a background in anthropology and population studies and her early research focused on migration and the social implications of demographic change. Her current research on demographic change addresses the impact of falling fertility and increasing life expectancy, with a particular interest in Asia and Africa. Recent research has focused on women’s education and empowerment in sub-Saharan Africa and the impact of this on desired family size, older women's health in Africa, and European life course trajectories and late life female health. She currently directs two research projects looking at the ageing of farmers in Vietnam and Myanmar. Sarah has just completed a monograph How Population Change will Transform our World Oxford University Press (2016), and is working on her next book for Cambridge University Press on Population, Technology and Environmental Change. Sarah is the founding editor of the Journal of Population Ageing and editor of the Handbook of Ageing and Public Policy (Elgar 2014).
Following her doctoral work in population studies at Oxford, Sarah trained with the BBC as a News and Current Affairs Reporter and Producer, working in both TV and Radio for BBC News and BBC News Night. After leaving the BBC she took up a lectureship at the University of London, and subsequently moved to the USA where she was professor in public policy at the University of Chicago. On returning to the University of Oxford she founded the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing with funding from the US National Institutes of Health.
Throughout her academic career, Sarah has combined academic research with external professional commitments. She was Chair of HSBC’s Global Ageing Forum and is a former Trustee of Third Age Employment Network. She worked with the Office of the Prime Minister and Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on the Government Ageing Strategy, and with the Department of Children, Schools and Families, developing their Horizons Programme, and the UK Government Office of Science Advisory Boards for the Demography Review. Sarah served on the Scientific Advisory Board of Natural England and serves on the Advisory Board, English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).
Internationally, Sarah represents the UK on the European Science Academies’ Demographic Change in Europe Panel, serves on the Council of Advisors of Population Europe and on the Advisory Board of the World Demographic Association. Sarah is an International Advisor on the University of Tokyo Global Leadership Initiative and represents Oxford on the Ageing and Demography Collaboration of the International Association of Research Universities. Sarah was the first holder of the International Chair in Old Age Financial Security, at the University of Malaya (2009-10).
Sarah served as Advisor to the Malaysian Government, Advisor to the Singapore Government’s Third Age Council and as a Specialist Advisor for the European Commission Demographic Change Programme. She served as an International Advisor to the Swedish Academy, European Advisor to the MacArthur Foundation, Advisor on Ageing Issues to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon and was Global Advisor on Ageing Issues for HSBC plc. She served on the Royal Society’s Working Group on Population, the Wellcome Trust Health Consequences of Population Change Panel and on the World Economic Forum, Global Agenda Council on Ageing Societies.
Alongside keynotes at academic conferences, Sarah has spoken at World Economic Forums in China and Australia, presented various TED and TED linked talks and presented her work at two Nobel Prize Dialogues, in Stockholm in 2014 and Seoul in 2017. Sarah was invited to give the 2012 Oxford-London Lecture on the subject of population change.
Current PhD students
Luca Chiaverini: Evaluating scenarios of biodiversity conservation in Southeast Asia under future land-use and socio-economic changes.
Graduated PhD Students
Burcu Ozdemir: (2017) Intergenerational Solidarity between Adult Children and Elderly Parents in Turkey.
Francesca Ghillani: (2017) Transnational communities.
Patricia O'Neill: (2014) The changing Roles and Status of Chinese daughters
Jaco Hoffman: (2012) The generational contract in Contemporary South Africa: configurations and reconfigurations in the context of HIV/AIDS
Chul Hoi Koo (2010): Reinforcement of income Inequality in Later Life: a case study of Korea (DPhil, Oxon)
Koichi Mikami (2010): Technology as a Social Process: Cultural Theory Approach to Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine in the UK and Japan (DPhil, Oxon)
Samir K. Sinha (2008): The Sociology of Interprofessional Relations: A Case Study of English Care Trusts (DPhil, Oxon)
Hugh Jones (1995): Community Care for Elderly People (Ph.D, London)
T Bristow (1993): Environmental Perception and Social Change, (Ph.D, London)
Links to publicly accessible reports; academic publications available on request.
- How education mitigates the realisation of fertility intentions: Is sub-Saharan Africa different?
- Morbidity and mortality risk for parents cared for by sons and daughters
- A Systematic Review of Physical and Psychological Health and Wellbeing of Older Women in Sub-Saharan Africa
- The Impact of Life Course Employment and Domestic Duties on the Well-Being of Retired Women and the Social Protection Systems That Frame This
- Transnational mobility and cross-border family life-cycles of Italian migrants: A century of Welsh Italian migration
- Lengthening of Life: the importance of context and life course
- Demography: A Very Short Introduction
- The Qualitative Stage of Building Bayesian Belief Networks in a Focus Group Setting
- The Ageing of Myanmar’s Farmer Population
- Building Evidence for Active Ageing Policies: Active Ageing Index and its Potential
- As the World Ages: When Older Populations Become the Majority
- The Reformation of Age and Ageing
- Population Ageing and Changing Families: a comparison of the UK and Singapore
- Population Ageing in South-East Asia
- Global Ageing
- Population, Technological and Environmental Change
- Longevity, Politics and Science – Moving from the Outcomes to Understanding the Process
- Critical Readings on Ageing in Southeast Asia (2 vols)
- Making the UK more Resilient to Age-Structural Change and Longevity: Translating Academic Evidence into Policy
- The Important Role of Migration for an Ageing Nation
- How Population Change Will Transform Our World
- Aging Populations and Management: From the Editors
- Migration and Ageing Societies
- Conceptualising Social Policy for the Twenty-first-century Demography.
- Critical Readings on Ageing in East Asia
- International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy
- Is the Planet Full?
- Population Ageing in East Asia
- Economic and social implications of aging societies
- The Opportunity for “Design” to Influence the Ageing Process Itself
- Achieving Replacement Level Fertility
- Dawning of a New Age for Longitudinal Cohort Data
- Identity and Demographic Change
- Implications of 20th Century policy models for 21st Century demography
- Population - Environment Interactions: European migration, population composition and climate change
- Demographic and Environmental Transitions
- People and the Planet
- Environment, migration and the European demographic deficit
- Sociology of normal ageing
- Age structural change and the demographic transition
- Inequalities in access to education: failing to provide skills-building and empowerment to girls
- Giants of the 21st Century: Longevity and Disability
- Health and well-being in older workers: Capacity change with age
- Environment, Migration and the Demographic Deficit
- Demographic Transition: Positioning the Age-structural Change Perspective
- Aging Europe’s Demographic Destiny: Framing the Challenges Ahead
- Demographic transition and the demographic deficit: rethinking intergenerational equity.
- Living Longer and prospering?
- Demographic challenges and social security. Societal challenges and the capacity to adapt: Social Security in an ageing world.
- The capacity of social security and health care institutions to adapt to an ageing world
- Grandparenting in Europe
- Grandmothers as Replacement Parents and Partners: The Role of Grandmotherhood in Single Parent Families
- Social Security in an Ageing World: Adapting to Demographic Challenges
- Developing a Social Security System for Malaysia.
- People and the Planet: The Role of Global Population in Sustainable Development
- Social Security in an Ageing World
- Productive ageing: what do we know?
- Understanding Longevity
- The Future of Retirement
- Redefining Retirement in the Light of Increasing Retirement
- Review of Longevity Trends in the United Kingdom to 2025 and Beyond
- The Impact of the out-migration of female care workers on informal family care in Nigeria and Bulgaria
- The Demographic Challenge
- Working in Later Life: from yesterday’s “older worker” to tomorrow’s “key talent
- An Upper Limit to Human Longevity?
- GLAS Research Reports: Some descriptive findings from the Global Ageing Survey (GLAS). Investing in Later Life
- Ageing in Asia
- Introducing the Journal of Population Ageing
- Sociological Approaches to Age and Ageing
- The Future of Retirement, 2007
- Youth - A Scare Commodity within an Ageing World
- GLAS Research Reports: Ageing and later life. The Americas
- GLAS Research Reports: Ageing and later life. United Kingdom and Europe
- Future of Retirement: The New Old Age. HSBC Global Ageing Survey
- Mature Societies: planning for our future selves
- The Future of Retirement, 2006
- Asia's Position in the New Global Demography
- I am not sure you should be talking to me - the Central Office of Information Research Initiative: Communicating with older people.
- Ageing Societies: Myths, Challenges and Opportunities
- Ageing Horizons Issue 5, 2006: Ageing workforces
- Late life work, retirement and social security for European women
- Addressing the implications of Global Ageing
- The ageing of family life transitions.
- Ageing Repositioned: Singapore in the New Global Demography
- The Status Quo of Foreign Workers in the Health and Social Care Sector in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands
- Understanding Grandparenthood
- The Puzzle of Retirement and Early Retirement
- Examples of International Case Law on Age Discrimination in Employment
- Family Care, Independent Living and Ethnicity
- Gerontology at the University of Keele: from Adult Education to Institute of Ageing
- A profile of Help the Aged
- Age Concern: Institute of Gerontology London
- The implications of ageing societies
- Families in Ageing Societies: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach
- Foreign Workers in the Health and Social Care Sector in the United Kingdom.
- The University of Sheffield: 50 years of Gerontological Research
- A Lifetime in Ageing: Profile of Sally Greengross
- Changing Families as European Societies Age
- Ageing Research at Oxford
- Understanding the implications of population ageing for mid-life women
- A Lifetime in Ageing – a Profile of Bleddyn Davies
- Changing Families as Societies Age
- Invited submission to House of Lords
- Independent Living in Later Life
- Active Ageing, Social Inclusion and Independence: UK, UN and European Policy Development
- Invited submission to consultation on Pensions Green Paper
- Active Ageing, Social Inclusion and Independence: Perspectives from Europe
- Grandparents coming of age
- Ageing 2000—questions for the 21st century
- A Time to Decide
- Over Use of Emergency Care / Under Use of Primary Care: Chicago’s Elderly African American Populations
- The Health and Welfare of African – American Older Women living in Chicago
- Book Review: The Body in Everyday Life
- The Nuffield Review of Ageing
- The Royal Commission on Long Term Care
- Book Review: Poetics and Politics of Tuareg Aging: Life Course and Personal Destiny in Niger
- The Funding of Social Science and Related Research into Ageing and Later Life: a Review of Research Councils
- Critical Approaches to Ageing and Later Life
- Constructing later life, constructing the body some thoughts from feminist theory
- Contesting later life
- Book Review: Feminism, Breasts, and Breastfeeding
- The use of emergency care by Chicago’s elderly African American population
- Book Review: Space, Place and Gender
- The greening of rural discourse
- Book Review: Full circles – Geographies of Women over the Life Course
- The Greening of Rural Policy
- Informal Respite Care: perspectives from the UK and USA
- Ageing in rural society
- Book Review: The Coming of Age in Europe
- European Behavioural and Social Science Research Section of the International Association of Gerontology
- The use of hospitals for informal respite care
- Welsh Affairs and Community Care
- The people and culture of China
- Meeting the media midway
- Caring for China's Ageing Population: The Residential Option — A Case Study of Shanghai.
- Book Review: The English rural community
- Eurolink Age – an European network concerned with older people and issues of ageing
- Super-ageing society
- Book Review: The Future of Low Birth-Rate Populations
- Book Review: Counterurbanization in England and Wales
- People moving to the countryside: case studies of decision making
- Issues in comparative gerontology: perspectives from Australia and the UK
- International Ageing
- Book Review: Population and Development Planning in China
- The impact of elderly migration on rural society
- Wives, Husbands, and Daughters Caring for Institutionalized and Noninstitutionalized Dementia Patients: Toward a Model of Caregiver Burden.
- The emergence and consolidation of the retirement tradition in post-war Britain.
- Ageing in Shanghai
- The development of residential homes for the aged in China
- The British rural community; an overview of perspective
- The social stratification of rural settlements
- Settlement, housing and population in the English rural-urban interface
- Book Review: Environmental aesthetics
- The older worker in post-war Britain
- The consolidation of old age as a phase of life (1945-65)
- The impact of the retirement debate on post-war retirement trends.
- Ageing in urban China: case studies from Shanghai and Beijing
- Family networks and community supports for the elderly: some British perspectives
- Book Review: Rural Psychology
- Book Review - The Elderly in Victoria: An Electronic Social Atlas
- Perspectives on research and practice with elderly people in rural areas
- Initiatives in education and training: ageing societies – teaching gerontology to undergraduate.
- Characteristics of caregivers of senile dementia patients
- Relationship and residence: implications for the care of demented elderly
- The rural-urban interface in England: a framework of analysis
- A humanistic approach to the study of rural populations
- The kinship network of the rural aged: a comparison of the indigenous elderly and the retired immigrant
- Symbolic interactionism and images of the community.
- British rural settlement in the hinterland of conurbations: a classification.
- Some correlates of burden of the carers of senile dementia patients
- The kinship network of the rural aged
- Caring for Alzheimer’s patients at home
- The social construction of old age in post-war Britain