CPop | Interdisciplinary Centre on Population Dynamics

The Interdisciplinary Centre on Population Dynamics (CPop) is a cross-faculty collaboration between researchers drawn from demography, public health, biology, mathematics, economics, political science and humanities . The center conducts innovative research to discover the basic causes and key consequences of changes in survival, longevity, and population aging, including also their policy implications.

The consequences of aging are of utmost importance to society. Understanding of and capability to address the challenges posed by longer, healthier lives require insightful, cross-disciplinary research. CPop therefore build on the success of MaxO and expand from its focus on biodemography into a unique four-faculty virtual institute with scholars from four faculties of SDU. The center bridges research in biological demography (Biology department) with epidemography at the health sciences (Department for Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Biodemography) using a solid foundation of mathematical and computational methods (Department of Mathematics and Computer Science). Further, it complements its studies on survival and longevity by research on the consequences for public health (Department of Business and Economics), on the interplay between demographics, politics and policies (Danish Centre for Welfare Studies) and research in the new cultures of ageing in the literary studies (Department for the Study of Culture).

Read about the exciting research in the research clusters.

You can also learn more by clicking at the menu bar in the top right corner.

News from CPop:

16 January 2020

Sex differences in health and mortality by income and income changes

Investigation of mortality and hospitalizations of Danes born between 1935 and 1955 demonstrated that income at ages 55-59 was an important predictor of mortality, with increasing mortality for decreasing income quartile. Income trajectories as a proxy for change in social position have a larger influence on men’s than women’s health and mortality. Income in the late 50s is an important predictor of mortality, particularly for men. 


We aimed to investigate sex differences in mortality and hospitalizations by income and income changes, and performed a population-based, nationwide study including 1,063,787Danes born 1935-55 and residing in Denmark during 1980-2015. Income was calculated during two age intervals: 45-49 and 55-59 years. The average income was divided into quartiles for men and women separately, which formed the basis for the income trajectoriesIndividuals were followed-up from age 60 until 2014/2015 for hospital admission and mortality, respectively. Men had higher mortality and were more hospitalized than women. Sex differences in mortality were most pronounced for people with stable low income (relative difference in hazard = 1.93; 95% CI 1.89-1.98) and a downward income trajectory (1.91; 95% CI 1.85-1.98) with smaller sex differences for people with an upward trajectory (1.59; 95% CI 1.56-1.62) and stable high income (1.37; 95% CI 1.33-1.41). A similar pattern was found for family income. Regarding hospitalizations, similar results were found, though less pronounced. Investigation of mortality and hospitalizations by all possible trajectories demonstrated that income at ages 55-59 was an important predictor of mortality, with increasing mortality for decreasing income quartile. Income trajectories as a proxy for change in social position have a larger influence on men’s than women’s health and mortality. Income in the late 50s is an important predictor of mortality, particularly for men.

Corresponding author: Mrs Linda Juel Ahrenfeldt, Unit of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Biodemography, Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense 5000, Denmark; lahrenfeldt@health.sdu.dk

Linda Juel Ahrenfeldt, 1.
Jacob Krabbe Pedersen,1.
Mikael Thinggaard, 1.
Kaare Christensen, 1, 2, 3.
Rune Lindahl- Jacobsen, 1.

1. Unit of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Biodemography, Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
2. Department of Clinical Genetics, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark
3. Department of Clinical Biochemistry and Pharmacology, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark

Cite this article
Ahrenfeldt LJ, Pedersen JK, Thinggaard M, et alSex differences in health and mortality by income and income changes. J Epidemiol Community Health Published Online First: 16 December 2019. doi: 10.1136/jech-2019-213096

Click here to access the article

16 January 2020

Progression of the smoking epidemic in high-income regions and its effects on male-female survival differences: a cohort by age analysis of 17 countries

We look at effects of smoking on mortality differences between men and women in high income countries over the period 1950 and 2015. The findings suggest that smoking is the major reason for sex differences in mortality in the last decades in high income countries and that about half of the sex differences in life expectancy can be attributed to smoking.

Of all lifestyle behaviours, smoking caused the most deaths in the last century. Because of the time lag between the act of smoking and dying from smoking, and because males generally take up smoking before females do, male and female smoking epidemiology often follows a typical double wave pattern dubbed the ‘smoking epidemic’. In this set of to answer the questions: How are male and female deaths from this epidemic differentially progressing in high-income regions on a cohort-by-age basis? and How have they affected male-female survival differences?  To answer these questions we used data for the period 1950–2015 from the WHO Mortality Database and the Human Mortality Database on three geographic regions that have progressed most into the smoking epidemic: high-income North America, high-income Europe and high-income Oceania. We examined changes in smoking-attributable mortality fractions as estimated by the Preston-Glei-Wilmoth method by age (ages 50–85) across birth cohorts 1870–1965. We used these to trace sex differences with and without smoking-attributable mortality in period life expectancy between ages 50 and 85.

We found that in all three high-income regions, smoking explained up to 50% of sex differences in period life expectancy between ages 50 and 85 over the study period. These sex differences have declined since at least 1980, driven by smoking-attributable mortality, which tended to decline in males and increase in females overall. Thus, there was a convergence between sexes across recent cohorts. While smoking-attributable mortality was still increasing for older female cohorts, it was declining for females in the more recent cohorts in the US and Europe, as well as for males in all three regions.

Thus, the smoking epidemic thus contributed substantially to the male-female survival gap and to the recent narrowing of that gap in high-income North America, high-income Europe and high-income Oceania. The precipitous decline in smoking-attributable mortality in recent cohorts bodes somewhat hopeful. Yet, smoking-attributable mortality remains high, and therefore cause for concern.


Maarten Wensink, 1, 2.

Jesús-Adrián Alvarez, 1.

Silvia Rizzi, 1, 2.

Fanny Janssen, 3, 4.

Rune Lindahl-Jacobsen, 1, 2.


Authors affiliation:

1. Interdisciplinary Centre on Population Dynamics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

2. Department of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark.

3. Population Research Centre, Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.

4. Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, The Hague, The Netherlands.

Corresponding author:

Maarten Wensink, mwensink@health.sdu.dk, Interdisciplinary Centre on Population Dynamics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

Cite this article

Wensink, M., Alvarez, J., Rizzi, S. et al. Progression of the smoking epidemic in high-income regions and its effects on male-female survival differences: a cohort-by-age analysis of 17 countries. BMC Public Health 20, 39 (2020) doi:10.1186/s12889-020-8148-4

Online accesshere

15 April 2019

Understanding Extinction: Errors in generation time could underestimate extinction risk 

New paper from our Johanna Stärk, Dalia, Conde, Fernando Colcheroand co-authors in Journal of Applied Ecology

Authors analyze how errors resulting from assumptions about species’ generation time can distort assessments of extinction timelines. The challenge of accurately assessing risk timelines begins with a lack of data on endangered species. To bridge the gaps, scientists rely on assumptions regarding survival, reproduction, and generation time. Generation time, which measures the amount of time it takes a generation to renew itself, dramatically impacts how quickly a species can respond to environmental changes and varies greatly between species. Using data from 58 mammalian populations compiled by collaborators from the University of Lyon as well as data from computer simulations, the authors propose to use more accurate information and include population growth rates into the calculation of generation time that may significantly reduce errors regarding a species’ generation time. Researchers tested the influence of these errors on Red List assessments and found that the assumptions in generation time may give an overly optimistic assessment of species extinction timelines.

10 April 2019

Homicides have a devastating impact on reducing life expectancy in Latin America

New paper from our Jose Manuel Aburto and Vladimir Canudas Romo in BMJ Global Health

Latin America accounts for around a third of the world’s homicides despite having just eight per cent of its population. The study shows that Honduran males are hardest hit, losing six years of life expectancy due to homicides when compared to developed countries. Honduran females lose two years. The life expectancy gap between developed and Latin American countries is in great part explained by the excess of homicide mortality: in El Salvador this is equivalent to four years, while males in Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic all lose around two years. Females from the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala and Jamaica, all lose around half a year of life expectancy due to homicides.

Co-lead author, José Manuel Aburto of CPop, analysed causes-of-death across 23 Latin American countries in comparison to 15 European countries. “These are very worrying numbers,” Aburto said. “We found major disparities in life expectancies in Latin American countries, particularly for men”. “Despite Latin American countries having seen progress in most other major causes of death, such as reductions in cancer and cardiovascular disease, homicide is still impacting people’s lives so much, particularly among young men, that there is little progress in life expectancies. “Usually suicide rates are higher than homicides in every part of the world, but in Latin America homicides are much higher.” The study also tracked changes in life expectancy between 1990 and 2014.

“There are some countries that have shown a lot of increase in life expectancy over this time such as Nicaragua and Peru, where declines in homicide mortality have been a very important factor of this progress. In other countries, like Trinidad and Tobago, there has been no improvement at all,” Canudas-Romo co-lead author said. “Honduran females and Mexican males are really falling behind. Mexican males lost close to half a year of life expectancy due to homicide, while Jamaican males gained more than that thanks to reductions of violent deaths.” Adds Aburto.

18 March 2019

Can we expect any time soon a break in the longest lifespan record set by Jeanne Calment? And what does it teach us about human longevity?

New paper from our Anthony Medford and Jim Vaupel  in PlosOne

Jeanne Calment died in 1997 at the age of 122 with the dual distinctions of being the oldest verified human and the only person to attain a lifespan of at least 120 years. More than two decades later we see more and more centenarians, but none of them close to breaking her record. Naturally we wonder when, or if ever, this might be broken. The chances of her record being broken offer insights into whether the maximum human lifespan has been reached. If the chances are getting higher, we may yet see those limits pushed further. A new study by Anthony Medford and Jim Vaupel from the University of Southern Denmark uses specific tools of Records Theory to determine how long Mrs. Calment’s record might stand and whether it is truly exceptional. The researchers find that the occurrence of the record was not all that surprising, but its persistence is. They estimated a 25 % chance that the record would survive until now and around one in five chance that it will survive until 2050. The authors conclude that while there is little evidence for a challenger to Jeanne Calment’s record in the coming decades, the length of Jeanne Calment’s lifespan - though remarkable - is certainly not improbable.

15 March 2019

Is plasticity of human lifespans advancing? New evidence from Denmark and Sweden

New paper from our Anthony Medford, Jim Vaupel and co-authors in Demography

How long can we live? What is the plasticity of human lifespan? Questions asked by researchers and laymen alike. New research by Anthony Medford and co-authors published in renowned demographic journal brings mixed evidence from their study of centenarians of Denmark and Sweden. Although in Denmark the study of the oldest-old from cohorts born between 1870 and 1904 show further increase in survival, there is no evidence of similar trends from culturally close Sweden. The authors hypothesize that different models for the provision of elder care; different levels of resource allocation to this care and differences in health between the centenarian populations of the two countries contribute to the divergent trends. These findings are important because they demonstrate that it may be possible to lengthen lifespans as observed amongst the Danish centenarians. Further studies are needed to disentangle the underlying factors and crack the mystery of longevity.

14 February 2019

The urbanization penalty, new research draws lessons about the impact of urbanization on mortality from the past

New paper from our Catalina Torres, Jim Oeppen  and their co-author Vladimir Canudas-Romo in Population Studies

Urbanization, closely linked to industrialization, has been progressing unevenly across time and space around the globe for more than two centuries. The early stages of urbanization have had often one thing in common and that is its uncontrolled organic growth with negative consequences for health and environment. According to WHO, many developing cities today are “focal points for many emerging environment and health hazards”. In their new paper Catalina Torres and co-authors look back to the beginnings of urbanization in Scotland and quantify the penalty of urbanization. They quantify not only the direct toll paid by urban inhabitants exposed directly to the unsanitary and hazardous environment in the form of higher mortality, but they also quantify the effects of changing population redistribution on total life expectancy of Scotland between 1861 and 1910. In other words, they are able to isolate direct and structural effects of urbanization on mortality and survival in Scotland. The capacity to disentangle these two effects is useful when studying current urbanization hazards and its consequences in developing countries.

4 February 2019

Upsurge in homicides decreases life expectancy and life span equality among males in Mexico according to new demographic research

New paper from our Jose Manuel Aburtoand his co-author Hiram Beltrán Sánchez in AJPH

A new study published in a leading journal of public health shows that the recent increase of homicides in Mexico negatively impacted life expectancy for males and increased their lifespan inequality. The upsurge of homicides is related to the Mexican government’s effort to mitigate drug cartel activities that initiated a cycle of violence – so-called War on Drugs since 2007. The study shows that in the period between 2005 and 2015 homicides were the main cause of death for young males aged 15 to 50 years, and increased more than 50% in this period, from 20.4 to 31.2 per 100,000. Homicides largely acted against improvements in other health outcomes caused by public health interventions. Similar negative effects of violence can be expected in other countries of the region such as El Salvador, Honduras and Venezuela where homicide levels are even higher. Mexico needs to recognize and correct the detrimental consequences in health and human rights that suppressive and drug-prohibition policies have had on the population. Rather than military action against drug cartels the government should re-focus on improving social and human capital through education, community support and employment programs.

20 December 2018

CPop is looking for a new Director. Read about the job opening.

10 December 2018

CPop organizes a Workshop on Forecasting Danish Life Expectancy and Age at Retirement

25 October 2018

PhD Defense of Marius Pascariu on "Modelling and forecasting mortality"

6 March 2017
Our paper "The emergence of longevous populations" was awarded with the PNAS Cozzarelli Prize.

23 February 2017
Johan Dahlgren was invited to the “Eliteforsk” conference in Copenhagen, where he received a diploma from the Danish research minister, for achieving the a “Sapere Aude” grant from the Danish Council of Independent Research. Please see the photo here.

17 February 2017
Our paper "Visualizing compositional data on the Lexis surface" by Schöley, Jonas, and Frans Willekens, was published in Demographic Research 36 (2017): 627-658. http://www.demographic-research.org/Volumes/Vol36/21/

February 2017
Iain Stott has been awarded €200,194.80 by the European Commission for the Marie Słodowska-Curie Actions Standard Fellowship WHYAGE, to be conducted at MaxO (now DEM), SDU in collaboration with the University of Zurich. The WHYAGE project will use global demographic datasets developed by MaxO and other institutions, alongside novel theoretical models, to explore feedbacks between age-patterns of survival and fecundity, and population dynamics.

February 2017
Our article “Mexico's epidemic of violence and its public health significance on average length of life” by VladimirCanudas-Romo, José ManuelAburto, Victor ManuelGarcía-Guerrero, HiramBeltrán-Sánchez (J Epidemiol Community Health Feb 2017, 71 (2) 188-193) was editor’s choice in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health in its February issue (http://jech.bmj.com/collection/editors-choice)

January 2017
New project:  Efficient survey and response to invasive species using drones. This is a joint project of Johan Dahlgren (DEM), Owen Jones (DEM) and Henrik Skov Midtiby at the UAS Center, SDU Faculty of Engineering. It is funded by the University of Southern Denmark, as part of an initiative to fund outreach projects using drones. We will use “unmanned aerial vehicles”, UAVs, to monitor populations of problem species of plants.

4 January 2017
Our paper "Better the devil you know: common terns stay with a familiar partner although pair duration does not affect breeding output" by Rebke, M., P.H. Becker and F. Colchero (2017) was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B 284:2016.1424

We developed a Bayesian hierarchical model to analize the survival, breeding success and partner choice in a colony of common terns. We tested whether individuals choose a partner based on their previous breeding success or based on their familiarity. We found that partner choice was determined by the number of breeding times the pair had mated, and not based on previous breeding success.


December 2016
Our report for our activities 2013-2016 is now available. Please click here.

December 2016
We are happy to announce that EDSD - European Doctoral School of Demography will be in MaxO (now DEM) and SDU in 2017-2019.
Please read more here.

 November 2016
Our paper "The emergence of longevous populations" by Colchero, F., R. Rau, O.R. Jones, J. Barthold, D.A. Conde, A. Lenart, L. Nemeth, A. Scheuerlein, J. Schoeley, C. Torres, V. Zarulli, J. Altmann, D.K. Brockman, A.M. Bronikowski, L.M. Fedigan, A. Pusey, T.S. Stoinski, K.B. Strier, A. Baudisch, S.C. Alberts and J.W. Vaupel (2016) was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113(48) E7681–E7690. 

Public interest in social and economic equality is burgeoning. We examine a related phenomenon, lifespan equality, using data from charismatic primate populations and diverse human populations. We found that lifespan equality rises in lockstep with life expectancy, across primate species separated by millions of years of evolution and over hundreds of years of human social progress. Furthermore, we show that, in these measures, industrial humans differ more from nonindustrial humans than nonindustrial humans do from other primates. Finally, in spite of the astonishing progress humans have made in lengthening the lifespan, a male disadvantage in lifespan measures has remained substantial—a result that will resonate with enduring public interest in male–female differences in many facets of life.
Awarded the 2016 Cozzarelli Prize for Behavioral and Social Sciences. http://www.pnas.org/content/113/48/E7681.full

CPop Annual Report 2018

Download the report here

CPop annual report

Join Us!

Assistant professorships in Demography at the Interdisciplinary Centre on Population Dynamics (CPop)

Apply here!

To give you the best possible experience, this site uses cookies Read more about cookies

Accept cookies