Project information

Start date: 01-02-2016
End date: 01-09-2019
Researchers: Jan Kok, Angelique Janssens, Dolores Sesma Carlos and Matthias Rosenbaum-Feldbrügge
Financing: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action: Innovative Training Networks (ITN), H2020 MSCA-ITN-2015-ETN

LONGPOP. Methodologies and Data mining techniques for the analysis of Big Data based on Longitudinal Population and Epidemiological Registers

European societies face great challenges due to rapid social and economic changes. These changes include transformations of family forms and fertility, a decline of mortality and increase of longevity, migration and instability, as well as huge unemployment. Owing to population ageing, all EU countries are now facing the challenge of reforming their welfare systems. Another challenge is migration within and between the EU countries as well as from outside Europe, which is now at the centre of the political agenda. Meanwhile, unemployment is high in many countries, particularly in southern Europe, adding to the challenges caused by population ageing.

While the present situation is well-known from national statistics on unemployment, social expenditure, and population ageing as well as from contemporary surveys, such data cannot be used to understand its cause. To gain knowledge about causality, we obviously need detailed individual-level data that goes far back in time. While such data exist in digital form back to the 1960s in several European countries, we need data even further back in time. While such data have been digitized by historical demographers for the period up to 1900, there is a gap in the first half of the twentieth century.

Over the past decades, research teams across Europe have started to bridge the gap between historical and contemporary data, creating new tools to understand and address the social challenges caused by population ageing and changes in employment structures. They have made long-term investments in the development and construction of longitudinal population registers and large research databases, opening up avenues for new linkages between different data sources (i.e., administrative and health data). That methodological progress resulted in the reconstruction of hundreds of thousands of individual life courses and multidimensional biographies of people across Europe. Such databases are foundations for a much better understanding of stabilities and transformations in our societies. In addition, methods to explore such data have developed in recent decades. The development of these long-term longitudinal databases along with the development of life-course and intergenerational analytical methods have made it to one of the most dynamic areas of research right now in social sciences, humanities, and medical science, and also the one where we can expect most progress. The databases have a platform in the European Historical Population Samples Network.

LONGPOP aims to create a network of highly qualified, long-lasting research teams to share experiences, start joint research across national and disciplinary borders, create a training track for specialists in the field, and increase the number of users of these rich—but underused—databases, making those treasures accessible to more scientists and stakeholders.