Curriculum vitae ron lesthaeghe

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Name: LESTHAEGHE Ronny Jean Leopold

Place of birth: Ostend, Belgium
Date of birth: June 2nd, 1945
Marital status: Married, 2 children
Nationality: Belgian
Home address: Driftweg 153 box 501, B-8450 Bredene, Belgium

Phone (cell) +32 477 571 524


Languages: speak, read & write: Dutch, English, French

speak, read: German

read: Italian, Spanish

Institution and Location Date Diploma or Degree
Royal Atheneum, Ostend 1957-63 Secondary education in

Classic Humanities

Rijksuniversiteit, Ghent 1963-67 Licence, Social Sciences

(magna cum laude)

Brown University, Providence, 1967-68 MA, Sociology/Demography

R.I., U.S.A.

Rijksuniversiteit, Ghent 1970 PhD, Social Sciences

(maxima cum laude)

Institution and Location Date Type of Activity
Brown University, Providence, 1967-68 Teaching Assistant in Statistics,

R.I., U.S.A. Social Science Research Methods

The Population Council, 1968 Summer Internship for

New York graduate students in demography

Belgian National Science 1968-70 Research Fellowship,

Foundation preparation of doctoral dissertation

Center for Population & Family 1970 Research Assistant

Studies (CBGS), Ministry of Public

Health, Brussels
Office of Population Research, 1971 Visiting Research Associate

Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.

Vrije Universiteit, Brussels 1971-77 Lecturer in Social Science Research Methods
Office of Population Research, 1972 (on leave from VUB   6 months)

Princeton University, Princeton, N.J. Visiting Research Associate

Université Catholique de Louvain 1974-75 Visiting Lecturer in Demography

Louvain (part time)

The Population Council, 1975-76 Co-representative for Programmes in

New York Central, Western & Northern Africa

University of Lagos 1975-76 (concurrent with Population Council) appointment

Visiting Senior Research Associate,

Human Resources Unit
Vrije Universiteit, Brussels 1977-2005 Professor, Social Sciences Research Methods

& Demography;

Director "Interuniversity Programme in

Demography", subsequently "Interface

1986-1988 Director, Centrum voor Sociologie,

Vrije Universiteit Brussels.

1989-1991 Dean, Faculty of Economics, Social and

Political Sciences, Solvay Business School

1998-2005 Chairperson, Teaching & Research Group

in Applied Social Research (Vakgroep Sociaal

Onderzoek), Vrije Universiteit Brussels.
2005-present : Visiting Research Professor, Population Studies Center, University of Michigan,

Distinguished Visiting Professor, Dept. of Sociology, University of California at Irvine,

Visiting Senior Research Associate, Centre d’Estudis Demografics, Universitat

Autonoma, Barcelona, Spain.


  • Social Science Research Methods + Tutorials: 2nd year Sociology, Geography, Psychology and Political Science students VUB.

  • Research Methods in Sociology + Tutorials: 3rd year Sociology students VUB

  • Social Demography + Tutorials: 3rd year Sociology and Geography students VUB

  • Advanced methods for sociology and demography: 4th year Sociology students (optional course) VUB

  • Introduction to Multivariate Analysis for the Social Sciences: graduate students in demography, VUB

  • Comparative Study of Social Structures: 3rd year Sociology and Psychology students, VUB

  • Stable Population Theory and Demographic Transition: graduate students in demography, VUB

  • Peasant Societies: Social, Economic and Demographic Structures: graduate students in demography, VUB

  • Social organization and demographic change: graduate students U. Michigan and UCIrvine

  • Social Demography: Graduate students U. Michigan.

Member of:

  • Société Belge de Démographie (SBD)

  • Population Association of America (PAA)

  • International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP)

  • European Association for Population Studies (EAPS)

  • European Society for Population Economics (ESPE)

  • Vlaamse Vereniging voor Demografie (VVD)

  • Vlaamse Vereniging voor Sociologie (VVS)


  • International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) - committee on the Comparative Analysis of Fertility

  • Chair: VUB-Advisory Council Third World & VUB Representative on the Flemish Universities' Council (VLIR), Committee on Development

  • Chair: VUB-Committee on Teaching & Course Evaluations

  • Member of the jury, King Boudewijn Prize for International Development

  • Editorial board: "Bevolking & Gezin" (Brussels), "Mens en Maatschappij" (Amsterdam), "Tijdschrift voor Sociologie" (Leuven)

  • Evaluation committee for both research and teaching programmes, Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), London

  • Evaluation committee for both research and teaching programmes, Association of Dutch Universities (Vereniging van Nederlandse Samenwerkende Universiteiten (VNSU)), Utrecht.

  • Fachbeirat, Max-Planck-Institut für Demografische Forschung, Rostock

  • Scientific Committee, European Social Survey

  • Evaluation Committee, research programme, Österreichische Akademie für Wissenschaften, Vienna


  • Chair Colson, Institut des Sciences Politiques de Paris (“Science Po.”), Paris (1987-1991)

  • Chair J. Leclercq, Faculté de Sciences Sociales et Politiques, Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve (1995-1996)

  • Chair Francqui, University of Antwerp (1998-1999)

  • Erasmus Chair, Harvard University (2001-2002)

  • Member: Academia Europaea, London (permanent)

  • Associate member: Royal Belgian Academy for Overseas Sciences, Brussels (permanent)

  • Member: Population Committee (1984-87) & Panel on Sub-Saharan Africa (1989-93), US National Academy of Sciences, Washington DC

  • Member: Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences, Brussels (KVAB) (1996 -,permanent)

  • Foreign member (1999 -): Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, Amsterdam (KNAW)

  • Foreign member (2014 -): American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia.

  • Foreign member (2014 -): US National Academy of Sciences, Washington DC.

- Irene Taueber Award, awarded biennially ‘in recognition of an unusually original and important contribution to the scientific study of population or an accumulated record of exceptionally sound and innovative research’ by the Population Association of America (PAA) and the Office of Population Research of Princeton University, April 2003
- Ranked among the 10 most influential demographers in the world in the period 1950-2000 by respondents in the survey of professional demographers worldwide conducted in 2000 in the context of an international study of demography as a scientific discipline .*
- Ernest Solvay Prize, awarded to a single person every five years by the FWO (Belgian Science Foundation) for outstanding scientific career and contributions in the social sciences and humanities, 2005.
- IUSSP Life Time Award, (2008) by the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population.

*The results of this study, carried out under the auspices of CICRED (Paris), can be found in J-C.Chasteland, M. Loriaux & L. Roussel (eds.), Démographie 2000.


1971-72: Office of Population Research, Princeton University

- "European Fertility Project": reconstitution and interpretation of the causes of the historical fertility transition for a number of European countries on the basis of small geographical areas.

- Responsible for the analysis of the Belgian data.

- Resulted in book: "The Decline of Belgian Fertility, 1800-1970", Princeton Univ. Press, and in 8 articles and chapters, occasionally co-authored (C. Wilson, E. van de Walle, J. Duchène)
1974-75: Centre for Population and Family Research (CBGS), Brussels - contract with VUB

- "Janus Project": elaboration of population scenarios and their macro-economic implications via integrated demographic-econometric models. This was the first demographic-economic model for Belgium.

- Project leader.

- Resulted in a book: "Alternatieve bevolkingsevoluties voor België en hun sociale en economische implicaties". De Nederlandse Boekhandel, Antwerp & Amsterdam, 1979, and in 4 articles with co-authors (mainly M. Despontin, S. Wijewickrema, A.  De Kerpel)
1975-76: The Population Council, New York

- The Lagos Parity Study: fertility, contraception, intermediate fertility variables and family formation survey conducted in Lagos, Nigeria.

- Project leader together with H. Page, O. Adegbola. This study was part of a broader Population Council assignment as co-representative for Western and Central Africa, which involved the monitoring of Population Council programmes in the area (jointly with H. Page).

- The Lagos Parity Study led to a book produced with other research teams in Africa: "Child-spacing in Tropical Africa; Tradition and Change", Academic Press, London & New York, 1981, and 6 articles with coauthors (H. Page, O. Adegbola, S. Becker, R. Schoenmaeckers, O. Tambashe).

1979-1981: The World Fertility Survey (WFS) - International Statistics Institute, London & The Hague

- "Breastfeeding & Fertility in LDC's": effects of breastfeeding and related postpartum variables (pp.amenorrhoea, pp. abstinence) on fertility; production of an "illustrative analysis" for other WFS-data users focusing on forms of data collection, biases and appropriate analysis methods.

- Project leader.

- Resulted in an analysis manual, articles, and a report for the WHO; often with coauthors (H. Page, I. Shah).

1983-86: The Population Council, New York, and USAID, Washington DC - Distinguished Research Award

- "Social Organisation and Family Formation in Sub-Saharan Africa"

This project was based on a large data bank of intermediate fertility variables, nuptiality, breastfeeding, pp. amenorrhoea, pp. abstinence, contraception) for subregions and over 200 ethnic groups in African WFS-countries.

The analysis of these variables was done in function of socio-economic, organizational and cultural determinants measured both at individual and aggregate levels. Applications of contextual analyses.

- Project leader.

- Resulted in the book: "Reproduction and Social Organization in Sub-Saharan Africa", University of California Press, Los Angeles & San Francisco, 1989 and in 2 articles. The collaborators were mainly H. Page, F. Eelens, and L. Donné (data management)

1986-87: The Rockefeller Foundation, New York

- “African Nuptiality Project": supplementary grant for further study of the Sub-Saharan marriage systems. Elaboration of a new nuptiality data file drawing on the information of censuses and surveys held in the region since the late 1950s (NUPFILES-1). Analysis of these materials in function of economic, social and cultural covariates (NUPFILES-2).

- Project leader.

- Resulted in 1 chapter in "Reproduction and Social Organization in Sub-Saharan Africa", op. cit. and 4 articles and chapters, often with co-authors (G. Kaufman, D. Meekers or J. Surkyn).

1990-96: Federal Agency for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Development, Federal Belgian Government, Brussels (DWTC), National IUAP-Programme.

- "Interuniversity Attraction Pole: The Integration of Foreign Migrant Populations in Belgium" (IUAP nr. 37)

Major study of economic, social and cultural aspects of integration of the successive generations of Moroccan and Turkish migrant populations on the basis of four large scale surveys of women (1991-93) and men (1994-1995) with national representativity. This was executed in collaboration with the Vakgroep Bevolkingswetenschappen of the University of Ghent (Prof. H. Page, F. De Fruyt, J. Lievens, G. Reniers, E. Lodewijckx) and, for the male surveys, also in collaboration with the Groupe de Travail sur l'Immigration of the University of Liège (Prof. S. Feld, A. Manço). The collaborators at the VUB were G. Moors, J. Surkyn, R. Stoop, R. Janssens, K. Neels, I. Van Craenem, U. Manço.

- Project leader (together with Prof. E. Witte who was responsible for the historical policy studies aspects of the IUAP-37).

- The project resulted in two books: "Diversiteit in Sociale Verandering: Turkse en Marokkaanse vrouwen in België", VUB-Press, Brussel, 1997 focussing on the women “Communities and generations: Turkish and Moroccan Populations in Belgium” NIDI-CBGS Monography, 2000, focussing on the men; in one major report for the sponsor DWTC, and in 10 articles, chapters and working papers.

This large scale project was also supported by the VUB Research Council in 1997 and 1998.

1993-94: Federal Agency for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Development, Federal Belgian Government, Brussels (DWTC). National Social Science Programme.

- Belgian Population and Households Projections Project: development and application of the technology needed for multi-state household projections, 1991-2011, to complement the classic age and sex population projections commonly produced by the National Institute of Statistics (NIS) and the Federal Planning Bureau.

- Project leader. Project executed together with ADRASS asbl, Ottignies (P.-M. Boulanger, A. Lambert). At the VUB the collaborator was P. Deboosere.

- Resulted in the report for the sponsor DWTC: "La formation des familles - Etude prospective", SPSS & Inbel, Brussels, 1994.

1996: Federatie Algemene Bouwaannemers (FABA), Brussels

- "Evolution of Households and the Housing Market"

Project executed with DULBEA (ULB - Prof. P. Kestens)

- Project leader for the section dealing with the household composition projections and the relationship with the housing characteristics.

- Resulted in a report for FABA together with J. Surkyn: "Gezin en Woning - Evolutie van Gezinsstructuren en Effecten op Bouw- en Woningmarkt", 1996 (also in French translation)
1995-1997: Federal Agency for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Development, Federal Belgian Government, Brussels (DWTC) and National Institute of Statistics (NIS), Brussels

- Belgian 1991 Census Monographs Project": this large scale project was set up to produce 11 census monographs and a census atlas, all based on the data of the 1991 census. These monographs contain elaborate analyses of the major topics covered by the census and are typically produced by two teams, respectively belonging to the Dutch and French-speaking universities in Belgium.

- Within this project, we had a double assignment:

  1. general supervision and scientific coordination, carried out together with Prof. Van der Haegen (KU Leuven - Geography)

  2. the production of Census Monograph nr. 4 "Huishoudens en Gezinnen" and "Ménages et Familles", in collaboration with ADRASS asbl, Ottignies (P.-M. Boulanger, A. Lambert). At the VUB, the collaborators were P. Deboosere and J. Surkyn. P. Deboosere furthermore produced the maps in the Census Atlas pertaining to household variables.

1995-1998: Federal Agency for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Development, Federal Belgian Government, Brussels (DWTC)

"Steunpunt Demografie - Interface Demography": this project aimed at (i) archiving official demographic data, (ii) elaborating the NIS and Population Register demographic records for scientific use and (iii) distributing such data files to other scientific users for their own analyses. Users included: all teams involved in the production of the Census Monographs and Census Atlas, the Federal Planning Bureau, various administrations of the Flemish Government, various university based teams working on their own projects (e.g. National Household Panel at the University of Antwerp, DULBEA at the ULB, the Geography Institute at the KU Leuven, the Institut de Démographie at the UCL, the Vakgroep Bevolkingswetenschappen at the University of Ghent, Saint Louis in Brussel etc.), municipal and provincial agencies.

- Project leader. data management & distribution: P. Deboosere.

- Resulted in the production of numerous data-files for the research groups involved in the production of the Census Monographs and Census Atlas, and for the Federal Planning Bureau, various administrations of the Flemish Government, various university based research groups working on their own projects (e.g. National Household Panel at the University of Antwerp, DULBEA at the ULB, the Geography Institute at the KU Leuven, the Institut de Démographie at the UCL, the Vakgroep Bevolkingswetenschappen at the University of Ghent, Saint Louis in Brussel etc.), municipal and provincial agencies.
1997-1998: Flemish Government - AROHM (Administration Planning & Housing

- "Household Projections for Flanders & Housing Needs", Brussels: subcontract for the overall project on housing needs by the Centre for Social Policy (CSB) at the University of Antwerp (UFSIA), coordinated by Dr. B. Meulemans.

- Responsible for the production of household projections for the Flemish region. This part was executed by J. Surkyn, who also produced provincial household projections as well.

- Resulted in two reports by Surkyn.

1998-2001: Flemish Government - AROHM, and PBO-97 programme

- "Internal Migration, Suburbanization and Return-Migration": this project started in October 1998 was designed to study inter-municipality migration in the period around the census of 1991. The data base consists of all individual migration records since 1989 that are matched to the socio-economic, household and housing characteristics of all legal residents recorded in the census. In this project the shifting migration streams are not only analyzed with individuals but also with households as units. These data are furthermore to be used in more detailed population and household projections for various planning zones within Flemish urban migration bassins.

- Project leader. Collaborators: D. Willaert, J. Surkyn, P. Deboosere

- Resulted in several papers by the various researchers involved

1999-2001: Federal Agency for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Development, Federal Belgian Government, Brussels, AGORA Programme

- "Differential Mortality": this project started in January 1999 on the basis of the individual record linkage of the mortality data from the national register and the census data from the NIS. This data base contains records for over 600.000 deaths, and the population at risk is the entire population of Belgium as of the census of 1991. The causes of death data are also attached to this national data bank. The covariates taken from the census pertain to household characteristics, socio-economic characteristics, education and labour force variables. The data base on the covariates side will also be expanded with environmental variables measured at the municipal level. This project is executed together with the National Institute of Statistics and the Louis Pasteur Institute of Public Health (organizer of the national health survey).

- Project leader; collaborators: S. Gadeyne, P. Deboosere, K. Neels.

- Resulted in several papers, mainly by Gadeyne and Deboosere.

This project also benefitted from an additional grant from the Flemish Fund for Scientific Research (FWO).
1999-2001: Federal Agency for Scientific, Technical and Cultural Development, Federal Belgian Government, Brussels, AGORA Programme

- "Individual and household determinants of internal migration": this project also started as of January 1st, 1999, and complements the AROHM-project sponsored by the Flemish Government. The data are again the national data bank on inter-municipality migrations linked to all individual and household census records of 1991. In this project the data are analyzed for the country as a whole and the attention shifts to multivariate analyses of specific types of migration moves.

Project leader. Collaborators: D. Willaert, P. Deboosere, J. Surkyn.

- Resulted in several papers by the various researchers involved

2002-2005: Federal Agency for Scientific Development, and National Institute for Statistics,

Census - - 2001 Monographs and Atlas Project: supervision and contribution to several monographs including the monographs on fertility and nuptiality, internal migration, and to the demographic map section of the Atlas.
2004-2005: Hoge Raad voor de Statistiek :

- Possible replacement of classic census by a record-based electronic census. Exploration of possibilities & contact with Scandinavian experience.

Other projects: More general research topics have been covered on the basis of partial funding from the VUB (Research Council). These topics include:
1. Relationship between value orientations and patterns of household formation, often drawing on the European Values Studies surveys of 1980 and 1990 in Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany.

- This has led to a steady stream of articles and chapters in books. The collaborators at the VUB were D. Meekers and J. Surkyn, and G. Moors.

2. Historical demography: this research has been continued mainly with K. Neels.
3. Demography of Africa: this subject has also received occasional coverage, mainly upon request by the US National Academy of Sciences.

- Co-authors have been: C. Jolly, C. Vanderhoeft.

4. Demography, economics and social security: this is a recurrent topic, often stimulated by work for the Federal Planning Bureau and by lectures given at business schools (Vlerick School, Ghent; IPO, Antwerp) or for professional organizations (e.g. local medical associations). This resulted in a book in 1998 together with two economists of the University of Antwerp: Lesthaeghe, Meeusen, Van de Walle: “Eerst optellen, dan delen - Demografie, Economie en Sociale Zekerheid”, Garant, Leuven & Amersfoort.
5. The Second Demographic Transition: further explorations of the European Values Studies of 1999 (see point 1. above) in the context of the Second Demographic Transition theoretical framework, and further development of the theory itself. Main VUB co-author: J. Surkyn. This has resulted in a number of articles and an edited volume, “Meaning and choice: Value Orientations and Life Course Decisions”.
Research in the US (2005-2008)

1. The “Second Demographic Transition” in the US, which involves analyses of individual level data, but also aggregate data for the 3141 US counties, resulting in detailed maps of various SDT subdimensions. Moreover these maps are now drawn with counties being sized proportional to their population. Collaborators here are Lisa Neidert of the Population Studies Center of the U. of Michigan and Didier Willaert at the VUB in Brussels.

2. participation in the EFC project on social demography sponsored by the US Natl. Institutes of Health. Member of the study group on “Romantic Unions” which focuses on older and newer, less conventional forms of union formation & dissolution in American populations.
Research in Spain (2012-2014)

  1. Marriage and Cohabitation in the Americas. European Science Council (ESC) funded research on changing family structures worldwide (WorldFam project), and carried out by the Centre d’Estudis Demografics of the Autonoma University of Barcelona, under the directorship of Albert Esteve (with Antonio Lopez –Gay and Juliano Lopez).

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