DEMO recruits a PhD student to work on the ERC-funded FamilyTies project

The Center for Demographic Research (DEMO) at the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain) belongs to the Institute for the Analysis of Change in Contemporary and Historical Societies (IACCHOS). DEMO, funded in 1963, is a vibrant medium-size (~ 40 researchers) research group that gathers population researchers from all over the world. DEMO is conducting fundamental and applied research in demography around 7 themes: historical and contemporary demography of Belgium (1), data and method development (2), fertility, family transformations and gender relations (3), international migration and integration (4), population and health dynamics in low- and middle-income countries (5), the challenges of ageing (6), and population, environment and energy (7). The center is known for its organization of the yearly international Quetelet Seminar and the international Quetelet Journal.

Project Description

The PhD researcher will work in the project ‘Family ties that bind: A new view of internal migration, immobility and labour-market outcomes (FamilyTies’. UCLouvain is a second beneficiary in this 5-year (2017-2022) ERC Advanced Grant project (PI Clara H. Mulder, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, the Netherlands). The research team includes one staff member and a data analyst at UCLouvain, and three PhD researchers, two postdoc researchers and one staff member based in Groningen, as well as external international collaborators.

Project summary: Internal migration (long-distance moves within national borders) is generally assumed to be beneficial to individuals and households. The FamilyTies project has been designed to make a decisive contribution to a much more comprehensive explanation of internal migration and its labour-market outcomes than current, mainly economic, explanations have achieved thus far. It introduces a novel perspective on internal migration and immobility, which focuses on the role of family outside the household in deciding on whether and where to relocate, and which takes into account contemporary family complexity: the family ties perspective. The aim is to identify the role of family ties in internal migration, immobility and labour-market outcomes. The project’s objectives are:

  • Identifying the role of family ties as a deterrent of migration and key determinant of immobility.
  • Explaining migration towards family in relation to migration in other directions.
  • Determining to what extent and for whom family-related motives drive migration and immobility.
  • Unravelling how individual labour-market outcomes of migration versus immobility differ between (im)mobility related to family ties and (im)mobility due to other factors.

PhD project: DEMO’s access to extensive Belgian population data enables novel perspectives in the analysis of internal migration. National Register data (1981-2018) offers longitudinal information on residential changes on micro level. Census data (1981, 1991, 2001 and 2011) complements with rich information on the individual’s household situation. Possible topics include the study of internal migration in relation to family dynamics (transition to childbearing, divorce, partnership formation, leaving the parental home) and health indicators. Contextual information can be added.

These data are analysed using advanced applications of hazard regression, logistic regression, linear regression and/or structural equation models, which take into account the multilevel and multi-actor structure of the data and issues of endogeneity and self-selection. The PhD researcher will work on several of the 4 subprojects described in the project proposal, in collaboration and consultation with the other team members.


  • Starting date: between September 2019 and January 2020.
  • Duration: 30 months.
  • The supervisor will help the selected candidate to apply for follow-up funding.
  • Net monthly allowance starts at 1,940 €.


We are looking for candidates with:

  • a Master degree in population studies, demography, human geography, economics, sociology or another relevant social science;
  • excellent study results and CV;
  • excellent quantitative research skills and proven experience in multivariate statistical analyses of large survey or register data sets;
  • good writing skills and fluency in written and spoken English; preferably already experience in academic writing in English
  • a keen interest in the topics to be investigated in the FamilyTies project, preferably demonstrated by previous work on similar topics;
  • willingness to attend conferences abroad and to spend short research stays abroad with collaborating partners in the FamilyTies project;
  • knowledge of French or willingness to attend French language courses;
  • strong conceptual thinking;
  • strong motivation, good communicative skills, proactive and independent work attitude;
  • strong planning skills, ability to organize own work and related activities, ability to meet deadlines;
  • a great curiosity and enthusiasm for scientific research.

We warmly invite you to apply for these vacancies, if you are interested and will have completed your Master degree before September 2019.

We ask you to submit

  • a motivation letter,
  • a one-page PhD research proposal in relation to the FamilyTies project including provisional research questions and analytical approach to address them using Belgian census and register data;
  • your complete CV, including the study results of your Master programme and the names and contact details of two reference persons

Candidates who are shortlisted will be asked to submit written work (e.g. MA thesis or papers) at a later stage.


You may apply for this position until 8 June 2019 12:00pm.

Send your application (all documents in one pdf file) to Christine Schnor, mentioning in the subject PHD POSITION DEMO 01-2019.

Interviews with the selection committee will take place end of June/beginning of July. We expect to notify you by mid-June 2019 about whether you are invited for an interview.


An overview of the project is provided at The project proposal and further information about the project can be obtained from Prof.dr Christine Schnor.