Research projects

Partner relationships, residential relocations and housing in the life course

(St Andrews team: Hill Kulu and Júlia Mikolai.)

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

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

(St Andrews team: Hill Kulu)

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 .

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

(St Andrews team: David McCollum and Annemarie Ernsten)


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 has 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 a 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.

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

Research Centres

The research cluster is connected with three major ESRC Research Centres

  • The ESRC Centre for Population Change (CPC) More info
  • The Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) More info
  • The Census & Administrative data LongitudinaL Studies Hub (CALLS-HUB) More info


ESRC Centre for Population Change


The ESRC Centre for Population Change was established in January 2009, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council it is the UK’s first research centre on population change. Based jointly at the Universities of Southampton, St. Andrews, Edinburgh, Strathclyde and Stirling, in partnership with the National Records of Scotland and the Office for National Statistics, we aim to improve the understanding of the key drivers and implications of population change.

In the first phase of CPC research, the programme was organised under four themes: Fertility and family formation; Living arrangements across the life course; National and transnational migration; and Modelling population growth and enhancing the evidence base for policy.

In its second phase, building on the achievements so far and reflecting elements of both continuity and change, the scientific programme is organised around the five themes of:

  • Fertility and family change
  • Increasing longevity and the changing life course
  • New mobilities and migration
  • Understanding intergenerational relations & exchange
  • Integrated demographic estimation and forecasting

Within these areas we are undertaking a series of research projects using methods ranging from in-depth qualitative studies, to enable us to discover more about underlying individual demographic behaviour, through to complex statistical and economic modelling.

For more details, see:

Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE)


The Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) is a four year interdisciplinary programme of research concerned with understanding changing ethnic inequalities and identities. Our team has over 20 academics, a number of affiliate members and PhD students working from Glasgow, Oxford St Andrews and Manchester. We also have a number of valued partners.

CoDE utilises a variety of research techniques and tools to ensure that the potential economic and social benefits of our research are realised. Our focus is on the changes within ethnic groups (their internal structures and formulations of identities) and their external relationships and position in British society.

Bringing together sociologists, demographers, historians, geographers, and political scientists, we are researching:

  • How class, gender, generation, age and place produce different experiences and visions of ethnicity across the UK
  • How changes in ethnic identities over time were expressed through the emergence of new or mixed identities, as well as the shifting significance of language and religion as a marker of ethnicity
  • The significance of the context of emigration and arrival in shaping ethnic identities and the long-term trajectories of migrants in British society
  • How major social changes in Britain’s economic and political structures have impacted on the ethnic inequalities experienced in employment and politics today.

For more details, see

Census & Administrative data LongitudinaL Studies Hub


The Census & Administrative data LongitudinaL Studies Hub has been commissioned by the ESRC to co-ordinate, harmonise and promote the work of the three LS Research Support Units, with the aim of providing a more streamlined experience for users.

CALLS Hub is funded for an initial five year period from 2012-2017. It is a collaboration between the University of St Andrews, University of Edinburgh, and University College London, though the management group also includes the directors of CeLSIUSSLS-DSU and NILS-RSU.

Our aims are:

  • To enhance the research potential of the LSs by co-ordinating the development of new resources and methodologies.
  • To enhance and streamline the user experience of obtaining information about the LSs and applying to use them for research.
  • To increase academic impact by developing communication strategies to raise awareness of the LSs, promoting their outputs and facilitating their impact strategies.
  • To increase the economic and societal impact of the LSs by working together with key external stakeholders to develop research projects meeting their evidence needs.
  • To facilitate and encourage the use of multiple LSs for UK-wide research using the eDatashield methodology.

For more details, see