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IUSSP Laureate 2006. Jan Hoem

Jan M. Hoem received the award at the Laureate Ceremony held in Liverpool, United Kingdom, 23 June 2006, during the European Population Conference organized European Association of Population Studies.


Jan M. Hoem has been a member of the IUSSP since 1966 and is one of the most distinguished scientists in population studies. He has published widely in the field and fervently advocates the scientific study of demographic issues, this in addition to being an inspiring and devoted teacher, mentor, and supporter of several generations of demographers in Europe and beyond.


 IUSSP Vice President, Peter MacDonald(left) and Jan Hoem



Trained in actuarial science and mathematical statistics, he turned to demography early in his career. His first publication, "Basic concepts of formal demography", published at the age of 28 before he took his degrees, became the standard text book of demography in Norway for many years. Two years later, he published an article on Markov chain models , now regarded as one of the four most significant papers in modern actuarial science. The paper and its sequels have become a landmark in demographic research, too, as they changed the way in which demographers think, conduct research, and model demographic processes. Jan Hoem provided a general framework and flexible tool for modeling multi-state transitions in demographic (and other) processes, taking the duration in any state i since arrival (or since "time 0") into account. This approach has now become so common in the study of demographic processes that its origin has mostly been forgotten, thus providing a good reason to remember the path-breaking impact of his idea and to honor Jan Hoem as a pioneer of modern demography.


Jan Hoem's career in demography is paved with a series of outstanding contributions in the field, spanning over a broad range of topics. Following his landmark papers, he made major contributions to the advancement of demography in areas such as stochastic stable population theory, demographic incidence rates, and the statistical analysis of multiplicative models (in generalization of demographic standardization), to name a few. Although he started out in formal and mathematical demography, he increasingly turned towards social demography. His papers on the impact of social policies on fertility, helped to lay the foundations for a new direction in the study of policy impacts on demographic behavior. In these works, Jan Hoem showed that stringent methodological approaches and appropriate methods applied to individual-level data greatly improve our understanding of the link between public policies, demographic behavior, and demographic outcomes. His works on the impact of social policies on Swedish childbearing and marriage behavior have become classics and have served many demographers as a model for studies in this field in other countries.


His research reflects his conviction that population science is a discipline that unites the social sciences with the mathematical and statistical sciences. Bridging these two he has also been influential in various other social sciences. Suffice it to mention that he served as the editor for demography in the International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, a project that involved more than 150 of the best demographers.


Beyond this, he has been a dedicated and inspiring teacher and supporter of young demographers around the world. He has always been convinced that the best investment in the advancement of the scientific study of population issues lies in the training and promotion of future generations of demographers.


When he was professor of Demometry at Stockholm University, demographers from all over traveled to Stockholm to learn advanced demographic methods, in particular event-history analysis. He has continued to teach young (and some not so young) demographers and social scientists in these methods since he became director at the Max Planck Institute of Demography in Rostock, Germany. Many of his students, who come from all over, Europe, Africa, Asia, and America, were the first in their countries to be trained in these methods and now apply them at home in their research and teaching. Many of these generations of demographers have themselves started to shape the discipline.


An advocate of statistical and mathematical methods in demography, Jan Hoem has never seen them as the sole methodological tools of population sciences. He believes that population studies benefit from a broad perspective that combines theoretical, analytical, and methodological insights from many disciplines. This has guided his directorship of the Laboratory of Contemporary European Fertility and Family Dynamics at the Max Planck Institute of Demography, which he built up as a truly interdisciplinary research unit and led to become a European center of research in the field.

He has also played a highly significant role in inspiring, promoting, and supporting innovative comparative research. His scientific and material involvement in the international Gender and Generations Programme, which comprises longitudinal individual-level surveys and contextual macro-level data, has greatly contributed to the project and has enabled several Eastern European countries to participate in this major effort to explore changes in fertility behavior and family patterns and to investigate the complexity of these developments and their causal factors.

From l. to r. :Kathleen Kiernan, Peter MacDonald, Jan Hoem, Gunnar Anderson, Graziella Caselli



Jan Hoem also has been an active and persistent agent in disseminating demographic research findings and demographic insights. Since he moved to the Max Planck Institute in 1999 he has been the editor of the first online journal of population sciences, 'Demographic Research'. The journal has published almost 150 articles and three special collections over the past six years. One of these special collections is a collection of papers presented at an IUSSP workshop. Another one was prepared by his colleagues in honor of his contribution to contemporary demographic research. He is also co-founder and editor of 'Demographische Forschung aus erster Hand' (First Hand Demographic Research), a quarterly directed at politicians, the media, and the general public. It provides a research-based information platform for public debate and political decision-making. He has also advised governmental commissions, statistical offices, data collectors, and survey institutions in several countries.


Jan Hoem has been an active member of the IUSSP and a promoter of its activities for almost 40 years. He has untiringly recruited new members, advertised the IUSSP conferences, and encouraged and supported IUSSP conference attendance by his students and collaborators. He has been a devoted attendee of IUSSP conferences and workshops himself, has hosted meetings in Rostock, has chaired sessions, and has acted as presenter and discussant of papers and contributor to IUSSP book publications.


In view of these activities and his outstanding life-time contributions to demography and to the advancement of population science we would like to suggest Jan Hoem as the IUSSP Laureate of 2006.


(Text from the letter recommending Jan M. Hoem as the 2006 IUSSP Laureate. Jan M. Hoem's nomination was supported by over 40 IUSSP members from seventeen countries.)