Research topics

Research at Interface Demography is aimed at enhancing scientific understanding on the determinants and consequences of population change.
Our work concentrates around five major research areas. The first three areas (health and mortality, fertility and households and migration) are typical substantive demographic topics. The theoretical knowledge generated in these areas is used to feed the topic of population dynamics and urbanisation. A last area of research is transversally related to the four previous topics and covers the development of research infrastructure through data collection and data management. The major demographic challenges currently witnessed in our society delineate the central research lines and questions within these five research areas.

The spectacular progress in health and life expectancy over the last two centuries and the related consequences of population ageing are topic of study in this research line. Inequity constitutes a major point of attention. The research in this field focuses on (a) the consequences and dynamics of population ageing, (b) health and mortality inequalities in Belgium and (c) the social mechanisms behind these inequalities. Our research on inequalities in health and mortality is strongly embedded in international comparative research at the European level. The integration of the former VUB Medical Sociology Department (MESO) into Interface Demography adds critical mass to this research line.

Migration and integration have always been a core component of the work at ID. In addition, ID is increasingly examining other forms of diversity from an intersectional perspective, such as gender, class, sexuality, family composition, disability and age. Strategic research topics on migration and discrimination are currently:

(a) the patterns, causes and consequences of discrimination on the labour- and housing markets and during daily interactions (so called ‘daily racism/sexism’). For this topic, we often use field experimental techniques, such as correspondence tests or mystery shopping.
(b) the micro-, meso- and macro-level determinants of social mobility among ethnic minority groups (e.g. middle class formation, intergenerational mobility or ethnic entrepreneurship).
(c) health inequalities between different intersectional groups (e.g. ethnic, gender and age).
(d) the residential segregation patterns of different intersectional groups, with a special focus on Brussels Capital Region in Belgium

Research projects on migration and discrimination

From Camp to Campus




Huurdiscriminatie in de mijngemeenten van Limburg

Cities and newcomers: arrival infrastructure, multi-scalar statehood and professional intermediaries

Air-BRU – Inequalities of Shared Short-Term Rentals in Brussels

Discriminatie op de huurmarkt in Leuven

Praktijktesten tegen discriminatie op de professionele huurmarkt en de arbeidsmarkt op sectorniveau in de Stad Antwerpen

Expertenadvies bestrijding discriminatie en racisme op de arbeidsmarkt: ontwikkeling van een onafhankelijk en academisch monitoringsinstrument voor toepassing in sectoren.’

Discriminatie op de private huurwoningmarkt in Mechelen

PhD Dounia Bourabain

Is higher education ready for equality? Perceptions of managers on equality at higher education institutions

EdisTools. Developing training tools for explaining and reducing ethnic discrimination in the fields of education, health care, housing and labour


Everyday discrimination in public spaces: the intersection of gender, ethnicity, religion and social class

PhD Wanda Van Hemelrijck

Partner and Family Relations in the Context of European Integration and Intra-EU Mobility

Juridische praktijktesten naar discriminatie op de private huurwoningmarkt in Gent: de proactieve fase.

Juridische praktijktesten naar discriminatie op de private huurwoningmarkt in Gent: de reactieve fase.

Discriminatie van homoseksuele en lesbische koppels op de huurwoningmarkt in Gent

PhD Lin Chen

Cancer differences by migrant background


Brussels, yes or no? A socio-demographic research into the livability needs of Brussels

Pooling knowledge from the three previous research fields, this topic covers global and regional population dynamics. Research within this area addresses aspects such as population growth (decline), internal migration, urbanisation and suburbanisation. We make use of linked census and population register data and of methodological developments such as the LIPRO household projections. Results are often policy oriented; research for governmental departments (finance, economics, education) and contributions to population projections (Statistics Belgium, Federal Planning Bureau) are typical output. Special attention is given to the demographic development of the Brussels Capital Region and its periphery. The applied research on Brussels undoubtedly nourishes fundamental research, as all crucial demographic challenges are coming together in Brussels.

Research projects on work and health


FOD WASO preventie


FOD WASO hybrid



The social distribution of cancer in Belgium

AIIFUND54: Effects of non-standard work arrangements on health, work and families – solutions for the future in Sweden

INEQKILL – How inequality kills. Two centuries of social and spatial disparities in all-cause and cause-specific mortality in Belgium (1800-2025)

Analysis of Belgian working conditions data collected by Eurofound (EWCS 2021)

HELICON- Unravelling the long-term and indirect health impact of the COVID-19 crisis in Belgium

Transparent And Resilient Gender Equality Through Integrated Monitoring Planning and Implementation

TALENT – Establishing Master programmes in HRM and Talent development in Central Asia

Work, health and Covid‐19: a literature review

Pilootprojecten Burnout

ESF project ‘21+21 Learning inclusive – Together with the union towards a transition and career-oriented training policy

The economic platform as a stepping stone to sustainable employment: challenges and conditions

PhD Mattias Vos

Analyse van de oversterfte in België door Covid-19

SEAD – Sustainable employment in the age of digitalisation: challenges, obstacles and opportunities

Effects of non-standard work arrangements on health, work and families – solutions for the future in Sweden

EMPOWER – European platforM to PromOte Wellbeing and hEalth In the woRkplace

Investigating mechanisms between precarious employment and workers’ mental health. A longitudinal approach

Precarious working lives, precarious family and social lives?

Green & Quiet

PhD Jessie Gevaert





Employment status and job quality

PhD Wanda Van Hemelrijck

Studie van de impact van de nieuwe arbeidsvormen op het welzijn op het werk

De impact van managementstijlen op het welzijn op het werk

Employment careers, disability and mortality

PhD Françoise Renard

Self-employment in Europe

Health promotion and health prevention at work

Analysis of the Belgian data on working conditions

Hours and skill-underemployment in Europe

Cancer differences by migrant background



Healthy ageing for all

Studie naar de re-integratie binnen het eigen personeelskader van laaggeschoolde jobs in de publieke dienstverlening van het Brussels Gewest

Precarious work and mental health in young people

Employment status and job quality

Fundamental research at ID is largely empirically driven; it is based on surveys and the secondary use of large socio-demographic databases. As such, data management makes up the strategic technical part of any research plan at ID. Data development and management generates tremendous research opportunities. In the group, the development of a large data infrastructure is therefore also a research topic an sich.

In collaboration with Statistics Belgium, ID has disclosed and documented several rounds of census files and administrative data. The combination of census and register data has resulted in several new applications with a unique research potential (National Databank Mortality, Migration Databank). ID also took the lead in setting up a series of large surveys (four large surveys among Turkish and Moroccan men and women, the Generation and Gender Survey, the Divorce in Flanders Survey) and making the data available to the research community. The research group has contributed actively to the construction of several databases on the regional and national level (data on education, household dwellings, longitudinal health monitoring, administrative census) and has often been consulted for the development of databases on national and international level (ESFRI, GSF of the OECD).

Database projects