Scientific achievements

In 2014 the work conducted by the World Population Program (POP) on the role of education in understanding population dynamics, improving the research base, and providing policy solutions for sustainable development, culminated in the publication by Oxford University Press of the book, World Population and Human Capital in the 21st Century.

Adapted from: © Valex | Dreamstime

Adapted from: © Valex | Dreamstime

In conjunction with the publication of World Population and Human Capital in the 21st Century [1] in August 2014, POP prepared and disseminated an executive summary [2] and launched an online Data Explorer which allows users to browse, select, visualize, and download assumption and results data associated with the new publication.

The pioneering work of POP scientists on reassessing population aging and its important policy implications were acknowledged at an international conference in Vienna in December, entitled New Measures of Age and Ageing. At the same time, new measures of aging based on people’s characteristics (for instance, strength of hand grip) were introduced [3].

An extensive analysis of the natural disaster data for 167 countries confirmed a major hypothesis in forecasting adaptive capacity for climate change, namely, that education is a key factor in enhancing climate adaptation. Results were published in Science in November [4].

The Age and Cohort Change (ACC) research group started a new project on cohort changes in education among religious denominations of the world. ACC published numerous results of its research on age- and sex-specific cognitive disparities and on the interplay between education and cognition [5].

Age and cohort change

Age and cohort change (ACC) researchers within the World Population Program (POP), continued working, in collaboration with Pew Research Center, on population projections of religious denominations around the world. More


World Population Program (POP) researchers examined data from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe, which tested the cognitive functions of more than 31,000 men and women over the age of 50 from 13 European countries. More

Economic performance

In 2014 World Population Program (POP) scientists studied predictors of economic growth in both developed and developing countries and also made an empirical study of the role of the new prospective aging measures as a predictor of income growth in Europe. More

Forecasting adaptive capacity to climate change

In 2014 World Population Program (POP) scientists undertook an extensive analysis of natural disaster data for 167 countries over the past four decades as well as a number of studies carried out in individual countries and regions to test the hypothesis that education is a key factor in reducing disaster fatalities and enhancing adaptive capacity. More

Identifying common sources of population heterogeneity

The World Population Program (POP), with three other IIASA programs—Energy (ENE), Mitigation of Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gases (MAG), and Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM), has begun to implement the crosscutting project “Accounting for socioeconomic heterogeneity in IIASA models.” More

Pension age and labor-force participation policies

An IIASA study for the first time estimates the trade-off between pension age and labor-force participation policies, showing that increasing labor force participation by as little as 1 or 2 percentage points could allow the pension age to be reduced by one year without increasing the burden on the working population. More

Population dynamics and human capital

A new book, World Population and Human Capital in the 21st Century, presented the results of the latest population projections from the World Population Program (POP) and the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Human Capital. More

Reassessing aging

World Population Program (POP) scientists contributed to a growing body of research on defining new measures of aging based on human characteristics and demonstrated how such a test could be used as a measure for aging to compare different population groups. More


[1] Lutz W, Butz WP, KC S (2014). World Population & Human Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

[2] Lutz W, Butz WP, KC S (2014). World Population & Human Capital in the Twenty-first Century: Executive Summary. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. 

[3] Sanderson WC, Scherbov S (2013). The characteristics approach to the measurement of population aging. Population and Development Review, 39(4), 673-685. 

[4] Lutz W, Muttarak R, Striessnig E (2014). Universal education is key to enhanced climate adaptation. Science 346(6213), 1061-2. 

[5] Weber D, Skirbekk V, Freund I, Herlitz A (2014). The changing face of cognitive gender differences in Europe, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS Early edition). 

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Last edited: 02 April 2015


Wolfgang Lutz

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

Principal Research Scholar and Senior Program Advisor Population and Just Societies Program

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

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