I'm a demographer, and throughout my career my research has been principally motivated by the same underlying aim: to understand the nature of population systems, especially with regard to changing fertility, and to establish the relationship between demographic trends and wider development. In order to pursue this goal, I have attempted to combine the articulation of theory in population and development with empirical demographic analysis. My strength lies firstly in discerning and articulating the “big pictures” of population and development, and then in applying the insights from these overviews to specific case studies.
My most influential contributions have been concerned with the nature of the demographic transition, both in historical Europe and the contemporary developing world, in particular in understanding the determinants of the fertility transition. More recently I have shifted to considering the post-transitional demographic regimes. In this respect I have studied the role that international migration plays in counter-balancing low fertility in Britain and Europe, and investigating patterns of post-transitional fertility in developing countries. This latter topic is the focus of an ESRC Seminar Series that I am jointly organising with colleagues at the University of Portsmouth and the Centre for Development Studies in Kerala, India.