The demography of ageing
A Data Science approach to decision-making

Leader: Daniele Vignoli, UNIFI
Co-Leader: Sabrina Prati, ISTAT

Spoke Themes

This Spoke contributes to the understanding of the demography of ageing (fertility, fecundity, family life, migration, longevity).
The Spoke offers a data-driven research infrastructure for the whole Age-It consortium to monitor population ageing and project population characteristics in terms of households, kinlessness, labour force participation and care needs at the national and specific regional levels.


Activities are organised around 6 WPs, which are both horizontal (i.e., focused on the various demographic domains of longevity, fertility/family, migration, and ageing biosocial aspects; WP 1-4), and vertical, or “cross-cutting” (data and data analysis and analytics; WP 5-6).


Demography, medicine, epidemiology, sociology, law, economics, education, statistics, and computer science. 

Work Packages

Prof. Gustavo De Santis, UNIFI

WP1 focuses on longevity, its limits (if any), and its consequences on population ageing, morbidity and possible extensions of the different (economic and family) stages of life. The WP will investigate why longevity progressed fast before the financial crisis of 2008, slowly between that and the Covid pandemic, and declined after that. Key differentials (e.g., by gender, SES) will be explored, as so will the consequences of bereavement, which is especially harmful for the old.

Prof. Daniele Vignoli, UNIFI

WP2 aims to: 1) address the cultural, economic, and institutional causes of low fertility (the so-called “ageing from the bottom”) and elaborate policy input – in close collaboration with Spoke 10 – to support desired fertility; 2) combine sociodemographic analyses with biomedical studies on sexual life, infertility, and medically-assisted procreation; 3) understand how diverse experiences in several domains of life (e.g., partnerships and employment) affect late-life outcomes; 4) design and realization of a national Ph.D. programme on Population Ageing and the Life Course (Ph.D. Population Studies – PopS).

Prof. Anna Paterno, UNIBA

Il WP 3: 1) monitora le migrazioni internazionali, definendo possibili politiche per gestire i flussi (concentrandosi anche sulle necessità assistenziali degli anziani) e l’integrazione degli immigrati; 2) definisce indicatori e azioni politiche (ad esempio, per migliorare la salute degli immigrati, la loro integrazione e le performance scolastiche dei loro figli).

Prof. Rossella Miglio, UNIBO

WP4 aims to: 1) understand the differential effects of biological factors and social factors (marital and fertility histories) on longevity and morbidity; 2) address the demographic (by age and sex) stratification of disability and the occurrence and impact of Covid-19 on disability in later life, taking into account vaccination received in the studied population; 3) inspect the transmission of social inequality across generations, including the degree of intergenerational correlation of fertility and longevity over time, to provide the first comprehensive analysis of how parents-children similarity in demographic traits have evolved in Italy.

Dott.ssa Sabrina Prati, ISTAT

This WP serves as data infrastructure for the whole Age-It consortium. By using a multi-source approach, WP5 will establish novel register-survey integrations through data linkage, across a range of areas, including life histories, health and living conditions. In particular, WP5 aims to: 1) conceptualise trusted smart statistics – i.e. statistics to transform "data" into "information" in a world impregnated with smart technologies – on ageing; 2) build a longitudinal statistical register of population aged 50+; 3) build a longitudinal statistical register of population with migration background; 4) build a longitudinal statistical register on reproductive histories

Prof. Mario Mezzanzanica, UNIMIB

WP6 aims to 1) define socioeconomic and demographic indicators at a fine territorial level for the planning of services; 2) put web data into official statistics to go towards trusted, smart statistics; 3) provide a working prototype to monitor the ageing phenomenon through AI and Big Data Analytics techniques; 4) use data and analytics to estimate the housing needs resulting from demographic transformations; and 5) perform derived forecasts related to households, care needs, kinship and labour force participation.

Key Outputs

  • Age-It data analytics system to monitor population ageing and forecast ageing-related issues (derived forecasts of care needs; kinlessness;…).
  • Longitudinal statistical registers from ISTAT, with a sample publicly available to researchers.
  • Set of specific policy recommendations to fight the “ageing from the bottom” – integrating studies on reproduction, lower-than-desired fertility, and migration.
  • National PhD program in Life Course Research
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