Our research interests include:

Ethnicity and minority populations
Global health and well-being
Migration and mobilities
Population estimations
Population inequalities
Reproductive Health

For research opportunities with specific professors or faculty, please see their university webpage.

For other university opportunities, please see the school webpage.


Current PhD Studentships

St Andrews-PhD Scholarship in Population Studies / Demography

We invite applications from qualified and highly motivated students for a 3-year PhD studentship to investigate the effect of regional factors on migrant employment, family, and housing trajectories. The project is part of the ERC-funded MigrantLife project ( It will compare migrant life trajectories between different regions and countries of the UK: e.g., Southeast (London), Scotland and the rest of the UK. The first part of the project will analyse regional variation in the life trajectories of immigrants and their descendants; in the second part of the project, future life trajectories will be simulated. The project will improve our understanding of how various meso-level factors (e.g., regional labour and housing markets) shape the life trajectories of immigrants and their descendants. The PhD scholarship will cover: 1) A maintenance grant of £15,560 per year (in the 2021/22 academic year, subject to increase annually according to the ESRC rules and regulations); 2) A research training support grant (RTSG) of £750 per year; and 3) Full tuition fee. Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria: 1) A master’s degree with distinction or merit in any area of social sciences including statistics and applied mathematics; 2) Interest in application of advanced quantitative methods in social sciences; and 3) Interest in working with longitudinal data. Coding skills are an advantage (e.g. in R, Stata or SAS), but not required. The University of St Andrews strive for equal opportunities. Applications of any background are welcome. Candidates must submit an online application by 8th November 2021. Please see the advice on applying for research degree programmes at:

Please apply to the programme “PhD Geography (Science)”. Please include a covering letter outlining your interest in population research and in applying advance quantitative methods in social science research. Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed in mid-November. The project will be part of the ERC-funded Migrant Life project. The successful applicant will also become a member of the Population and Health Research Group (PHRG) at the School of Geography and Sustainable Development and of the ESRC Centre for Population Change (CPC). The research of the PHRG covers a wide range of topics including the analysis of health and mortality; family and fertility dynamics; and migration. The group combines expertise in demographic, longitudinal and spatial data analysis ( CPC is a joint partnership between the Universities of Southampton, St. Andrews, and Stirling ( This is an excellent opportunity for a highly motivated PhD student to work in an international team of researchers on a cutting-edge social science topic and applying advanced quantitative methods to longitudinal data. The studentship is available in December 2021 or soon thereafter. For informal inquiries, please contact Prof. Hill Kulu ([email protected]). Please include ‘MigrantLife PhD studentship’ in the subject line of your email.


Past PhD Studentships

St Andrews–Max Planck PhD Studentship in Population Health

We invite applications from qualified and highly motivated students for a 3.5-year St Andrews–Max Planck PhD studentship in Population Health. The PhD studentship is funded by the University of St Andrews and the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR). The PhD student will be working on social, temporal and/or spatial aspects of infectious diseases (e.g. Covid-19) using individual-level register or survey data and applying advanced quantitative methods. The project will be part of International Max Planck Research School for Population, Health and Data Science (IMPRS-PHDS) https://www.imprs- The PhD student will be supervised by the following team: Prof. Hill Kulu (St Andrews), Prof. Mikko Myrskylä (MPIDR) and Dr. Katherine Keenan (St Andrews).

In the first two years (more precisely 1.75), the successful applicant will be working at the University of St Andrews. They will become a member of the Population and Health Research Group at the School of Geography and Sustainable Development (SGSD), which combines expertise in advanced techniques of demographic, longitudinal and spatial analysis. For further details about the research group, please see Population and Health Research Group.

In the third and fourth year, they will be working in the Laboratory of Population Health at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany, one of the leading centres for demographic research in the world. Please see the website of Max Planck Institute.

This application is closed by 30th June 2020. For informal inquiries, please contact Prof. Hill Kulu ([email protected]), Prof. Mikko Myrskylä ([email protected]) and Dr. Katherine Keenan ([email protected] Please include ‘St Andrews–Max Planck PhD studentship’ in the subject line of your email.

Current Research Projects

MigrantLife: Understanding life trajectories of immigrants and their descendants in Europe and projecting future trends

The MigrantLife project (2019–2024) will investigate how employment, housing and family trajectories evolve and interact in the lives of immigrants and their descendants in the UK, France, Germany and Sweden; and how factors related to a societal context, an early life context and critical transitions shape their life histories. The study will project their future life trajectories using innovative computer simulation techniques, considering the main life domains and diversity between and within immigrant groups. The project will exploit large-scale longitudinal data from the four countries to deepen our understanding of the relationships between the three life domains, and the causes of less and more successful life trajectories among immigrants and their descendants. This project will show whether the current heterogeneity between and within immigrant and minority groups vanishes over time or rather persists, suggesting an increasing diversity of European societies. This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 834103).

PHRG team: Prof Hill Kulu (PI), Dr Julia Mikolai, Dr Isaure Delaporte, Dr Chia Liu, Mary Abed Al Ahad, Dr Andreas Höhn, Joseph Harrison, Shubhankar Sharma.

FertilityTrends: Understanding Recent Fertility Trends in the UK and Improving Methodologies for Fertility Forecasting

This FertilityTrends project will examine the significant fluctuations in fertility levels in the UK in the last two decades, will investigate their causes, and will develop improved methodologies for fertility forecasting. The last two decades have witnessed dramatic changes in fertility levels, which were not predicted by demographers or government statisticians: Fertility significantly increased in the first decade of the 21st century, whereas it has declined thereafter.  These changes when translated into numbers of births, have had important implications, for example in the provision of health services, childcare, and school places. The project aims, first, to produce detailed measures of fertility changes in recent years in the UK. Second, it will decompose the overall changes into those attributable to compositional changes in the UK population, e.g. by country of birth and education, and those which are attributable to behavioural changes over time, i.e. women have fewer or more children. Finally, these insights will be used to develop new methodologies for more accurate forecasting of fertility applying them to the UK and its constituent countries. The developed methodologies could be applied to project fertility in other industrialised countries.

PHRG team: Prof Hill Kulu (PI)

ERICA: Stopping Child Maltreatment through Pan-European Multiprofessional Training Programme: Early Child Protection Work with Families at Risk

Fuded by EU Horizon2020, 2019-2021. A Pan-European consortium to set up with the aim is to prevent and combat violence towards children, defined here as maltreatment, by building the expertise of professionals concerning minors living in families with child maltreatment risk, also in multicultural contexts. The St Andrews team play an integral part of the project in developing appropriate new training materials for mental health professionals. In collaboration with Alex Baldacchino  (School of Medicine).

PHRG team: Dr Katy Keenan (Co-I)

The health and demographic outcomes of only children over the life course

Funded by the Carnegie Trust, 2019-2020. The study aims to investigate the life course outcomes of only children (those with no siblings) using register data from Norway and Sweden. With collaborators at Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) and University of Oslo.

PHRG team: Dr Katy Keenan (PI)

Social Inequalities In Chronic Disease Trajectories In Mid & Later Life: Taking Account Of Multi-morbidities

Funded by the Academy of Medical Sciences, 2019-2021. The study aims to investigate methodologies for characterizing complex multi-morbidity trajectories, and to identify key socio-economic and socio-demographic drivers of inequalities in these in Scotland over the last couple of decades. The project uses a novel linked dataset linking Scottish Longitudinal Survey (SLS) with health records including prescription and hospitalization data, and cancer and diabetes registers. St Andrews collaborators are Frank Sullivan (Medicine) and Juliana Bowles (Computer Science).

PHRG team: Dr Katy Keenan (PI), Dr Genevieve Cézard

HATUA ( Holistic Approach to Unravelling Antibiotic Resistance in East Africa)

Funded by the UK MRC 2018-2021. This inter-disciplinary consortium aims to investigate the burden and drivers of antibacterial resistance in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. We use quantitative surveys of patients, their households, combined with microbiological and genomic analysis, and qualitative community and healthcare provider studies. A collaboration with the schools of Medicine, Biology, Mathematics, and institutions across 5 countries. See our twitter page for progress updates.

PHRG team: Dr Katy Keenan (Co-I), Dr Dominique Green

Partner relationships, residential relocations and housing in the life course

The aim of the project is to gain insight into the interactions between partner relationships on the one hand, and housing and residential relocations on the other, as they develop through people’s life courses and as they are situated in the social and institutional contexts of Germany, the UK and the Netherlands. The three-year project (2014–2017) is funded by DFG, ESRC and NWO under the ORA scheme and is conducted in collaboration with colleagues from the Universities of Groningen and Cologne. The project will improve our understanding of how partner relationships and housing careers evolve and interact in people’s life courses in industrialised societies in the context of increasing diversity of life trajectories. The results of the project could be used as input for household projections at national and regional levels, which are used for housing planning and resource allocation. The project will also identify the short- and long-term effects of partnership changes on housing conditions of individuals; the results will be important for policymakers to revise and develop policies in order to also meet the housing needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged population groups. For more information, see

PHRG team: Prof Hill Kulu and Dr Júlia Mikolai

Changing families and sustainable societies: Policy contexts and diversity over the life course and across generations

The collaborative research project of 25 European Universities and research institutes is funded by the EU 7th Framework Programme (€6.5 millions in EU contribution). The four-year (2013–2017) project investigates the diversity of family forms, relationships, and life courses in Europe and assesses the compatibility of existing policies with family changes. Hill Kulu leads comparative research on ethnic minority families in nine European countries. The research will deepen our understanding of how immigrants structure their family lives in different institutional settings and will be the basis for the development of government policies to address the issues of inequality and social cohesion. For more information, see .

PHRG team: Prof Hill Kulu

Economic change and internal population dynamics: an innovative study of new residential mobilities in Scotland


This project aims to advance academic and policy understandings of how the recent period of economic recession and uncertainty has affected patterns and processes of residential mobility within Scotland. Mobility practices have implications for policy since the population size and composition of places impacts on issues such as economic competitiveness, service provision and resource allocation. Additionally, the factors that act against people moving in the face of economic ‘push’ or ‘pull’ factors have long been a concern of policymakers. Despite being an important policy issue, surprisingly little is known about the dynamics of internal migration. This research will investigate how population sub-groups and particular types of places have behaved over the course of the economic downturn in terms of mobility patterns. This will be achieved through an innovative analytical approach that utilises the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS), a dataset that links the NHS Central Register (NHSCR) and census data to, for the first time, generate insights into contemporary trends in residential mobility.

The project aims to:

  • Profile the mobility characteristics of population sub-groups and geodemographic areas and use this information to develop migration propensities and classification of residential mobilities within Scotland.
  • Assess the significance of place characteristics and (im)mobility behaviours relative to individual attributes in determining occupational outcomes.
  • Examine whether the recession has produced new residential mobility patterns and whether different types of migrants have behaved differently, in terms of mobility, in the recession.
  • Evaluate the value of NHSCR data through comparison with census based estimates of population changes.

The project provides important information to policymakers concerned with a geographic matching of workers with jobs and of communities with appropriate public services. It is also of value to scholars interested in linking patterns in residential mobilities over the recession with contemporary labour and housing market trends.

PHRG team: Dr David McCollum and Dr Annemarie Ernsten

Global Health Citizens: a multi-disciplinary exploration of health volunteering between communities in the UK and in developing countries

The project is a study of health professionals who volunteer to work cross-culturally. It pursues interests in their mobilities and their negotiations of connections between places; how knowledge gets translated between environments; the embodied, emotional and spiritual aspects of these processes; and all of these in relation to contexts of inequality, neo-liberal governance, sustainable development and constructions of ‘global health’.

Impact of children’s residential (im)mobility on migration in later life


Residential mobility characterises contemporary society. Within Britain in an average year, at least one person in every ten will move house (2001 Census). Children today are growing up in a mobile society. Traditionally, residential mobility has been associated with (economic) opportunity and upward social mobility.

However, the meanings, experiences and implications of residential mobility are changing, in particular in relation to two social shifts: changes in family, family structures and fertility (second demographic transition), and the ‘global’ economic downturn.

Very little is known about migration of children within Britain, or the impacts of moving in childhood. Thus, this project will address the following questions:

  • What are the characteristics of residentially mobile and immobile children (class,gender, ethnicity, place, family structure)?
  • Is residential mobility during childhood associated with residential mobility in later life?
  • Can differences be observed in later life socio-economic outcomes (education, employment, class) between those with residentially mobile life courses and those with residentially immobile life courses?

This project uses the British Cohort Study 1970 and is intended to provide a foundation for a larger project looking at migration across the life course and its consequences


Social disparities in housing and residential mobility: the experience of a cohort of children born in Scotland.

 Studies of residential mobility over the course of individual lives have documented that individuals are more mobile when they have young children. Given the high rate of residential mobility, and the importance of early life experiences for later outcomes, it is crucial to understand the implications of moving home for children development. A large body of research has shown that children who stay in the same home have better outcomes than their more mobile counterparts. However, a dichotomization of mobility experiences (movers versus non-movers) has limited explanatory power and calls for approaches that consider frequency, motivations, and characteristics of residential moves. Further, whereas more advantaged families often make intentional moves to better housing or neighbourhood, more disadvantaged families are at risk of deterioration of their housing contexts. Families might also differ in the resources they have to buffer the negative effects of a move.

The project uses quantitative data from Growing Up in Scotland, a longitudinal study which follows the lives of children born in 2004-05, to address the following research questions:

Differences by type of moves

•            Does the relationship between residential mobility and children outcomes vary depending on i) the reasons for moving? ii) housing and local area characteristics before and after the move?

Social disparities

•            Are residential mobility effects explained by the socio-economic composition of movers?

•            And do they vary by parental social background?

 PHRG team: Francesca Fiori (PI)


Interdisciplinary Child Well-Being Network (ICWBN) to study the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on children in Ireland and the United Kingdom

This Interdisciplinary Child Well-Being Network aims to bring together academics and practitioners from the four nations of the United Kingdom (UK) and the Republic of Ireland to establish an interdisciplinary research network to study the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the associated policy responses, on children in the two countries and beyond. The new Interdisciplinary Child Well-Being Network (ICWBN) will pool theories, evidence and methodological approaches from across the social sciences to study the medium- and longer-term consequences of the pandemic for children’s living standards as well as their outcomes in health, cognitive- and socio-behavioural development, educational attainment and achievement, and subjective well-being.

PHRG team: Dr Julia Mikolai (UK PI)