Spring 2024 Colloquium Series

Mar 4, 2024, 12:00 pm1:15 pm



Event Description

About this talk:

The past half century has witnessed substantial demographic changes and democratic transformations worldwide. How do structural demographic shifts influence democratic trajectories of societies? Our study integrates the demography and political sociology literature and proposes a conceptual framework to assess the role of key demographic factors in the process of democratization and democratic backsliding. We also conduct a systematic empirical analysis using an original longitudinal dataset covering 152 countries from 1975 to 2018. The results demonstrate that demography has powerful and multifaceted political implications. Population composition and distribution factors (such as those related to migration and age structure) have a more pronounced impact on democracy than mere population size or growth. Importantly, demography is not destiny: its influence on democracy is often nonlinear and interacts with pre-existing socioeconomic and political conditions. As population shifts continue to unfold globally, the field of political demography stands as a promising area for scholarly inquiry.

About the speaker:

Yao Lu is a Professor of Sociology and Faculty Affiliate at the Columbia Population Research Center, the Data Science Institute, the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, and the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University. Her research centers at the intersection of inequality, demography, and political sociology. Her current work primarily focuses on 1) the influence of structural demographic forces on political processes, 2) the sources of inequality by gender, race/ethnicity, and nativity in the high-skilled labor markets, and 3) the broader social and political consequences of unemployment and underemployment among college graduates. Her research spans various settings, including but not limited to China and the United States. Her work draws on mixed methods and has most recently incorporated computational and experimental methods. Her research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Additionally, she has co-led two national surveys. The first survey focuses on migration and families in China (2012-2013), and the second survey (with embedded experiments) investigates the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on ethnic/racial attitudes in the United States (2020-2022).