The Wittgenstein Centre

The  Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital, founded in 2011, aims to be a leader in the demographic analyses of human capital formation and its impact on society, the economy and the environment.


The Wittgenstein Centre is a collaboration between the World Population Program at IIASA, the Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), and the University of Vienna. As of October 2019 the new Department of Demography of the University of Vienna is the main university-based pillar of the Wittgenstein Centre.

The Wittgenstein Centre was made possible by up to now eight European Research Council (ERC) Grants and the Wittgenstein Prize 2010. In addition to existing staff, over a dozen researchers have been recruited from all over the world. 

Team members

Founding Director of the Centre is Professor Wolfgang Lutz from the University of Vienna, IIASA, and the VID, he is also the recipient of two ERC Advanced Grants (2008 and 2017) and Wittgenstein Prize 2010. 

Jesus Crespo Cuaresma (IIASA and WU) is Director of Economic Analysis, Alexia Fürnkranz-Prskawetz (IIASA, TU Vienna and ÖAW) Director of Research Training, Raya Muttarak (IIASA) Director of of Population, Environment and Sustainable Development, and Sergei Scherbov (IIASA and ÖAW) Director of Demographic Analysis. 

The Centre cooperates with an international team of post-doctoral and doctoral researchers.


The scientific goal of Wittgenstein Centre’s research is to significantly advance the global frontier in modelling and understanding the drivers and consequences of changing population structures around the world – past, present and likely future. The Centre explicitly addresses multiple dimensions of population structures that go beyond the conventional analysis by age and sex. Substantively, it focuses particularly on the roles of human capital formation and global population ageing and on the interactions of these trends with the social, economic and natural environment. It uses the rich methodological toolbox of demography and in particular the methods of multi-dimensional population dynamics for quantitatively addressing the “quality dimension” of changing human populations.

The research of the Centre can be structured into four broad research themes that together form a coherent and comprehensive research agenda. These four themes focus on human capital formation and depletion, on modelling population dynamics, and on studying the interactions with the social, economic and natural environment. This focus on human capital is based on the broader understanding of demography as studying the changing size and composition of populations (definition according to IUSSP, the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population) notably by important sources of heterogeneity that go beyond the conventional age and sex. It applies the methods of multi-dimensional population dynamics (developed in and around IIASA in the 1970s) and gives special attention to education, health and labour force participation as constituents of human capital.

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Last edited: 17 August 2020


Wolfgang Lutz

Interim Deputy Director General for Science Directorate - DDG for Science Department

Senior Program Advisor Population and Just Societies Program

Senior Program Advisor Social Cohesion, Health, and Wellbeing Research Group - Population and Just Societies Program

Wittgenstein Centre Website

Wittgenstein Symposium, November 2011

The Laxenburg Declaration on Population and Sustainable Development

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313