Netherlands, Nijmegen

Historical Demography: Reconstructing Life Course Dynamics

when 4 July 2016 - 15 July 2016
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 4 ECTS
fee EUR 600

Recent advances in historical demographic research have placed great emphasis on longitudinal micro-level approaches of all important aspects of demographic behaviour, in other words historical demographic phenomena need to be studied within the context of life course analysis. This approach involves the complex handling of large amounts of dynamic individual-level data; as a result complicated database management techniques have become a crucial component of the tool kit of historical demographers. These skills are however not regularly taught in standard university courses.

This course consists of two important features. First of all, the course will offer a theoretical introduction into the life course approach, its central concepts and a number of substantial themes which can be usefully studied in this way. A provisional list includes: occupational and/or migration trajectories, women’s reproductive life course patterns and changing household composition. Secondly, the course offers a thorough training in the skills required to handle dynamic life course data from large historical databases, starting from the raw data contained in data entry files right up to the point at which the data are ready to be analysed by complex statistical analysis such as event history analysis. In this way the course will assist students to build up their own data matrix ready for analysis. In addition, methodologies connected to the life course approach will be trained, such as the reconstruction of household dynamics, migration, career, and reproductive trajectories, calculation of transition rates, modelling of household composition, designing GIS maps and the coding of occupations.

The course is comprised of 10 teaching days; each day will start with introductory lectures on theoretical, conceptual and methodological issues. In the afternoon students will work on hands-on exercises and homework assignments which will be graded. Each student will carry out an individual study project, the results of which will be presented at a final conference.

This course is intended for MA and PhD students who are motivated to make use of life course data in their own research. Lecturers will be drawn from both KU Leuven, Belgium and from the Radboud University Nijmegen; both universities are strong international leaders in the field of historical demography and have a long experience in working with longitudinal demographic databases.

This course is part of the programme of summer schools of the European Historical Population Samples network and is supported by funding from the European Science Foundation. In terms of skill level this course is positioned in between the introductory course in Cluj, Rumania, and the more advanced courses in Lund and Umea, Sweden. Software to be used: R-Studio.

Course leader

Prof. dr. J. Kok
Chair group of Economic, Social and Demographic History
Faculty of Arts
Radboud University

Prof. dr. A. Janssens
Chair group of Economic, Social and Demographic History
Faculty of Arts
Radboud University

Target group

This course is intended for MA and PhD students and other young researchers who are motivated to make use of life course data in their own research.

Course aim

After this course you are able to:
- Construct data files containing historical life course data
- Reconstruct longitudinal life course and household trajectories
- Calculate a number of basic demographic measures on the basis of historical life course data
- Explain results by reference to concepts and theories used in this field of research.

Fee info

EUR 600: The course fee includes the registration fee, course materials, access to library and IT facilities, coffee/tea, lunch, and a number of social activities.

10% discount for early bird applicants. The early bird deadline is 1 April 2016.
15% discount for students and PhD candidates from Radboud University and partner universities.
EUR 295: Housing (optional)


A small number of scholarships are available, in particular for students from countries supporting the EHPS network and secondly from countries participating in the European Science Foundation network.