30 November 2020 - 01 December 2020
Vienna, Austria

Demographic aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences

IIASA's World Population Program is co-organizer of the Wittgenstein Centre  (IIASA, OeAW, University of Vienna) Conference 2020 with a focus on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vienna city center, November 2019 © Jerome Cid | Dreamstime.com

Vienna city center, November 2019 © Jerome Cid | Dreamstime.com

COVID-19 is causing serious health, social and economic challenges, several of which are directly related to demographic factors. Given that older persons have a weaker immune system and are likely to have underlying chronic illness, they are particularly vulnerable to viruses like SARS-CoV-2. The severity of COVID-19 thus does not depend only on a country’s health system and policy measures, but also on age structure, regional distribution and social behavior. In countries like Italy and Spain, where 7% and 6.2% of the population was aged over 80 in 2018 (compared to 5.6% in the EU-28 on average) coupled with more intensive intergenerational social contact, demographic and family factors may have played a key role in determining vulnerability to COVID-19. How severe the consequences of the pandemic will be outside of Europe also depends on demographic, social, economic and political factors.

While the initial efforts focus on slowing the spread of the pandemic and mitigating its immediate impact, significant demography-related consequences are expected in the longer term, ranging from the way our economies function in terms of labor markets and migration, to family related behavior (including possible effects on fertility), international travel patterns and social and health care policies, as well as to how the economic burden can be shared fairly across the population.

This conference aims to bring together researchers from around the world working on COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences from a demographic perspective; in particular, we will explore the following topics:

  • What factors explain regional and country differentials in population vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic? What are the contributions of demographic factors such as age structure, spatial distribution, social stratification and migration, and social factors such as norms in explaining the vulnerability and responses to COVID-19?
  • What are the demographic consequences of COVID-19 e.g. on fertility and partnership, mortality, health and migration?
  • What are the economic consequences of COVID-19 and how will they affect population subgroups differentially?
  • What are the lessons learned in terms of data needs and methods of analysis as well as policy priorities for the future?

We are confident that by the end of November 2020 it will again be possible to travel freely and safely to Vienna and that enough data and relevant analyses will have been accumulated to arrive at a first comprehensive assessment as to what is known with respect to the questions raised above. A set of the best papers presented will be published in the peer-reviewed Vienna Yearbook of Population Research, but all draft papers and posters will already be made openly accessible to the scientific community by the time of the conference.

The conference is organized by POP Program Deputy Director Raya Muttarak (co-ordinator), Anna Dimitrova, Michael Kuhn, Wolfgang Lutz, Marc Luy, and Erich Striessnig, as a collaboration of the Wittgenstein Centre Conference 2020 is organized by the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (IIASA, OeAW, University of Vienna).

Deadline for sending abstracts for contributed papers or posters: 31 July 2020

Paper submissions online (open from 15 April 2020 until 31 July 2020)

  • short abstract (200–400 words) and
  • extended abstract (2–5 pages) or the full paper.

The authors of accepted papers will be informed by 18 September 2020.

Event details:

Title: Demographic Aspects of the COVID-19 Pandemic and its Consequences

Date: 30 November - 1 December 2020

Location: Vienna University of Economics and Business, Welthandelsplatz 1, 1020 Vienna

Contact: If you have any questions regarding the conference, please contact

For detailed information and registration please visit the event website.

About the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital (IIASA, OeAW, University of Vienna)

The Wittgenstein Centre is a collaboration between the Department of Demography at the University of Vienna, the World Population Program at IIASA, and the Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW). 

The Centre combines the partners’ strengths in the fields of demography, human capital formation and analysis of the returns to education. It builds on a highly successful collaboration that has already generated significant scientific advances. “Human capital” refers to the human resource base in terms of the number of people and their changing structure by age, gender, location, education, health status, cognitive skills and other relevant characteristics. Its intent is to provide a sound scientific foundation for decision-making at various levels.

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Last edited: 03 September 2020


Raya Muttarak

Principal Research Scholar Migration and Sustainable Development Research Group - Population and Just Societies Program

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