Family Demography and Health in Low- and Middle-income Countries: A Cyberseminar Series Exploring Family Change and Intergenerational Relationships

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: School of Social Sciences


Intergenerational relations involve the exchange of material, instrumental, and emotional support across the life course. Parents are sources of support to their children but can become recipients of support, especially at older age. Older parents around the world rely most often on their adult children for financial support and care, and adult children increase contact and even become co-resident when parents experience losses, such as widowhood, or illhealth. Amidst dramatic changes in family structure and residential mobility, the extent to which this family lifecycle of intergenerational support is realized is uncertain. Economic uncertainty and the relative absence of public safety nets in poor settings in the global south heighten the policy relevance of addressing these issues.

This proposed ESRC-funded series of three cyberseminars will enhance the contribution of family demography to understanding intergenerational relationships and support in low- and middle-income countries. Designed to facilitate the maximum amount of international participation, three interrelated but stand-alone cyberseminars will be conducted in 2012-2014. Using a 'virtual' forum that facilitates knowledge exchange between the north and south, the cyberseminars will bring together academic researchers and students from demography and other allied disciplines, practitioners in family-centered programmes, and people involved in the collection of family data in resource-poor settings.
Seminar 1: Building consolidated concepts and methods for the study of intergenerational relationships and support in demographic research
Seminar 2: How are family dynamics in low- and middle-income countries affecting intergenerational support and can policies promote positive support in resource-poor settings?
Seminar 3: New directions in the demographic study of intergenerational networks and the health and wellbeing of families in low- and middle-income countries

Key objectives of the seminars also relate to i) promoting interest and knowledge about contemporary topics in family demography internationally; ii) creating greater awareness of the strength, scope and opportunities for family demography in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania, and iii) fostering interdisciplinary academic networking and collaboration involving demographers from different regions.

The cyberseminars will be hosted by the University of Southampton with scientific and technical assistance from the Centre for Research on Ageing, the ESRC Centre for Population Change and the Worldwide University Network (WUN). The co-applicants for this ESRC cyberseminar series are drawn from major academic institutions involved in population studies: Victoria Hosegood (Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies & Southampton), Sara Randall (UCL), Kathryn Yount (Emory), Sureeporn Punpuing (Mahidol), Jacques Alioune (Malawi/Liverpool), Maria Evandrou, Sabu Padmadas, and Jane Falkingham (Southampton). This team has three project partners who will add considerable value to this ESRC cyberseminar series: The University of Southampton, the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) and the INDEPTH Network. The seminars are also supported by the Population Council.

Planned Impact

There are four main groups of beneficiaries from this ESRC-funded seminar series on 'Family Demography in Low- and Middle-income Countries: A Cyberseminar Series Exploring Family Change, Intergenerational Relationships and Health'

1.Seminar participants:
The immediate beneficiaries will be the cyberseminar participants and those who view the presentations and materials at a later time. Participants will be encouraged particularly from:
a)Demography professionals and students with interests in these issues and international focus. These will include members of our project partner the International Union for the Study of Population (IUSSP). Also, academics and practitioners from other related fields including gerontology, social policy and health. b) Professionals involved in the collection of data on families and households in lower income countries. This will include people working in the 42 health and demographic surveillance systems in Asia, Africa and Oceania that belong to the INDEPTH Network, another project partner supporting these cyberseminars.
c) Practitioners and policy makers from governmental and non-governmental agencies involved in policy and programme implementation related to families.

2. The field of demography and allied disciplines:
This cyberseminar will be highly visible and accessible serving to stimulate interest in the important demographic and health issues related to intergenerational relationships and health in the context of rapid population change. In addition, the field of family demography is a relatively small discipline outside Europe and North America with few specialist research forums or teaching programmes. The seminars will also increase knowledge in the social sciences about the value of applying perspectives and methods from family demography within a broader interdisciplinary approach to health research and policy dialogues.

3. Improved data collection on intergenerational relationships and support in lower-income countries:
One of the main benefits of these seminars will be to inform social scientists involved in collecting household and family data about the conceptual and measurement issues to promote improvements in the availability and types of data that are available from longitudinal surveillance systems, cohorts, demographic and health surveys and other studies.

4. Families in lower-income countries:
By promoting knowledge, training and engagement with the major issues in the demography of families and intergenerational relationships and support, this seminar series should ultimately be of benefit to families globally but particularly in the resource-poor settings. The support of the Population Council is a very important part of achieving this aim as the Population Council collaborates with governments to shape policies and increase coverage and enhance the quality of population and health programs, and to increasing the capacity of developing-country research and service organizations. The writing of policy dialogues for each seminar strand by collaborating with an invited policy maker, funder or senior programme officers will be an important tool to achieving impact in this area.


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Neal SE (2015) How Reliable Are Reports of Early Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health Events in Demographic and Health Surveys? in International perspectives on sexual and reproductive health

Description The first of three cyberseminars was held in January 2014. The presentations, commentaries and blogs can be viewed at:
Exploitation Route We have already been asked to support other research projects by providing a site with which their research materials can be critically reviewed and read by other researchers and partners. Furthermore, the success of the first cyberseminar has led to several other initiatives within the academic, education and practice networks to which we belong also adopting this approach to encourage greater participation by participants in low and middle income countries. In 2017, the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP), with whom we collaborated on this cyberseminar series, launched another working group on the theme of family demography. The new group Family demography and family law opens up a new dimension of family demography in fostering studies of the connection between changes in family law and changes in family structure and family dynamics.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description Pinpointing objective evidence of the direct and indirect non-academic impacts of activities such as seminars is challenging. The way in which cyberseminar organisers and presenters came together from across the world as academics and as child policy research and advocacy practitioners from organisations such as the Children's Institute in South Africa in order discuss the contemporary changes in the demography of families has made a significant contribution by altering the types of expertise, discussion and evidence that are being sought when making policy decisions about families and children. That this ESRC-funded series has been successful in promoting an engagement and energy around family demography can been seen in subsequent regional and local efforts such as the 2016 meeting on Family Demography In Africa and Post-2015 Development Agenda organised jointly by the Demography and Population Studies Programme of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa in collaboration with South-South Network for Demographic Training and Research in Africa [SSNDTRIA] and Network for Research in Family Demography; and, the creating in 2017 of an international scientific panel on family demography and family law by IUSSP.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Healthcare
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description Coalition for Children Affected by HIV and AIDS (CCABA) 
Organisation Coalition for Children Affected by AIDS
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution CCABA has been a advocacy agency in disseminating and engaging with policy makers about our demographic research findings on children and families affected by HIV and AIDS. In the past, CCABA has encouraged and provided us with interpersonal and written forums in which to discuss our research findings on the level and diversity of types of involvement by fathers in the care and support of children affected by HIV and AIDS. with national and international policy makers, programme implementing agencies such as UNICEF and Save the Children, and researchers in other countries working on issues affecting HIV-infected and HIV-affected children and their families. The organisation's website: and a Special Issue on Family-focused programmes for children affected by HIV and AIDS (
Collaborator Contribution Learning of this ESRC-funded project and our efforts to improve the measurement of the family environment in demographic and health surveys, CCABA asked us to prepare evidence on the demography of the family 'careforce' and issues in identifying and supporting the families of children affected by HIV and AIDS in the era of treatment to be presented at a high-level policy meeting in Geneva organised by CCABA.and held at UNAIDS to engage and advocate for a greater focus on families in the new UN declaration on HIV, as well as, in the goals and activities being developed as part of the new Sustainable Development Goals Using new data collected as part of this project and analyses undertaken with existing population-based data from the ongoing demographic surveillance system, we used the 'careforce' framework proposed by CCABA to consider the demographic profile of the family carers of children affected by HIV and uniquely were able to examine the longitudinal and very detailed information on social and residential arrangements and dynamics to identify gaps in the existing programmes to identify, reach and support children whether orphaned or not. The Coalition urged the UN country delegations to ensure that five critical gaps regarding children & adolescents & their families are covered in the 2016 High-Level Meeting's Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the Political Declarations on HIV and AIDS.
Impact Our findings, research methods, data and conceptualisation thus, contributed directly to the CCABA report on The 2016 HLM on HIV's Political Declaration: What we need to see on PMTCT, Paediatrics, Children & Adolescents. See the full report. The collaboration with CCABA has been very multi-disciplinary ranging from practitioners, programme and policy experts from national and international agencies, as well as, academics from a broad range of disciplines including demography, psychology, social welfare, health, health policy, child protection, law and ethics and finance.
Start Year 2015