Population trends and the global sustainable development goals

VODCAST - 11 December 2018 Wolfgang Lutz

LECTURE_cemm_cut2 from CeMM GmbH on Vimeo.


World Population Program Director Wolfgang Lutz gave a presentation entitled "Population trends and the global sustainable development goals" in the framework of the S.M.A.R.T. lecture series at Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (CeMM) in Vienna. 

In his talk, Wolfgang Lutz proclaimed that essentially people are not very different all over the world. However, we face a universal development of “demographic modernization” with countries currently at different stages of the same process: In the first stage falling death rates due to better sanitation and medical advance together with a culturally determined high birth rate result in a high population growth. In a later stage of development birth rates also fall, leading to low or even negative population growth. By the examples of the demographic transition of Finland from 1722-2017, birth and death rates at Mauritius from 1875 on, and a study on the effect of income or education on the infant mortality in India Wolfgang Lutz impressively showed the effect of education on a higher life expectancy: When it comes to survival, mind matters more than money!

Empirical studies show that the most transformative social changes are associated with the spread of universal female literacy, and the future of world population growth and adaptive capacity to environmental change will crucially depend on female education. The “homo sapiens literata” (MPI-EVA, McElreath) - a sub-species of homo sapiens characterized by high abstraction, literacy, codified knowledge, complex socio-economic institutions and modern science - makes the change. A lively discussion followed the talk, which will continue at CeMM: How can we contribute to a positive societal development? Education matters!


Wolfgang Lutz

Senior Program Advisor

Population and Just Societies Program

Acting Research Group Leader

Social Cohesion, Health, and Wellbeing Research Group

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International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
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