The origins of the School of Demography at the Australian National University start with the appointment of WD Borrie to the Research School of Social Sciences in 1947. Then, in 1952, the Department of Demography was created with Borrie as its head. Subsequently, he occupied the world’s first specifically designated Chair in Demography in 1957 and was Vice President of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) and President of the UN Population Commission. In the 1960s, the Department of Demography, besides having a strong focus on the demography of Australia, became recognised as a world leader in the demography of developing countries and in the sociology of international migration.
From 1970 to 1988, the Department was headed by Jack Caldwell, widely regarded as one of the world’s leading demographers. Caldwell focussed the work of the Department more heavily on South and Southeast Asia, and on West Africa. Many students were trained from these areas of the world and many ANU demographers went out to these countries to participate in training and research. In the 1970s, the Department also provided a home for the National Population Inquiry, the largest inquiry ever undertaken on the demography of Australia. Caldwell was elected President of the IUSSP for the years 1994-1997.
Read more about research conducted through the years: Working Papers in Demography 1975-2006
We became the Demography Program in 1990 under Gavin Jones, a prominent expert on the demography of Southeast Asia, who headed the program between 1988 and 1995.
Between 1996 and 2013, Peter McDonald led the program. During this time we merged with Sociology to become the Demography and Sociology Program in 2001 and McDonald created the Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute in 2007. He was also the President of the IUSSP from 2010 to 2013 and received numerous awards for his achievements, including Member in the Order of Australia (2008) and the Irene B. Taueber Award (2015, major award of the Population Association of America). He is currently a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia and an inaugural Public Policy Fellow of the ANU.
James Raymer was appointed Head of School in 2013.
The School of Demography was created on 1 October 2015 to acknowledge our historical achievements, current academic profile and strategic aim to be the leading demographic centre for research and training in the Asia and Pacific region.
In 2017 Edith Gray was appointed as Head of the School of Demography.