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European Research Council Consolidator Grant goes to Annette Baudisch

Annette Baudisch receives a highly competitive ERC Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council to explore and find new patterns in fertility data.

By Marlene Jørgensen, , 3/17/2022

Professor WSR Annette Baudisch works with basic research in the field of demography and mortality at the University of Southern Denmark, and the very methods that she and her colleagues use to investigate and predict mortality, she will now try to apply to fertility data.

She has just received a prestigious grant – a so-called ERC Consolidator Grant – of DKK 14.8 million (EUR 2 million) from the European Research Council (ERC) for her project “Born once – Die once”.

The ERC supports excellent research and allows researchers to pursue original and groundbreaking research ideas.

New method of modelling fertility patterns

In her new project, which will run for a five-year period, Annette Baudisch puts the modelling of mortality on the side and instead sets about testing how these methods can be used in modelling general patterns of fertility.

Although there are good methods for studying fertility patterns, it is typically more complicated than analyzing mortality, and Annette Baudisch therefore seeks to develop a new way of modelling fertility changes.

— Preliminary findings suggest that parallels can be drawn between mortality and fertility research, which is surprising because fertility is much more irregular. While fertility researchers consider, among other things, why people have children and the complex decisions that precede conception, we do not usually ask mortality researchers why we should die – it is a given. In mortality modelling, we typically do not look at all the details, but find patterns at a macro level, and I would like to do the same in the field of fertility.

The idea of my project is that if we can better model fertility patterns, then we can also better project how the population will develop in the future. My idea, therefore, is to take the well-known methods we use to analyze mortality and apply them in a new way to fertility data to look for similar patterns in fertility. In short, I hope that my research can help develop more general principles for modelling and understanding fertility, says the SDU professor.

Playing with the theory

For Annette Baudisch, the ERC grant is a big step in her research career.

— It's a huge honor to receive such an important grant. I am really happy to meet so much support for my idea and the direction I want to take the project, and then it is just a pleasure to be able to work with what I am really passionate about for five years, says Annette Baudisch, who with the ERC grant will have the opportunity to gather her own research team around the project.

And if I succeed in what I have set out to do, I think it will take the research field forward. In population studies, there have been huge developments on the statistical and data-driven methods in recent years, but the theory has not quite kept up, so hopefully my project can push the theory side and help to create a better balance between statistical methods and theory.

In the long term, the idea is that the model and theoretical framework that Annette Baudisch will develop can also be used in other disciplines to compare data and knowledge about how different ‘things’ – and not just humans – are born and die, such as companies and organisms.

The full title of the project reads “Towards a transdisciplinary demographic theory of birth and death trajectories”, and it is one of a total of 313 projects supported by the European Research Council this time around.

Meet the researcher

Annette Baudisch is a Professor with Special Responsibilities at SDU's Interdisciplinary Centre on Population Dynamics (CPop), where she is also director of research. In her research, she deals with theory development and modelling, aging, demographics and mortality.


Editing was completed: 17.03.2022