IUSSP Laureate 2009

Dr. Jane Menken honoured as the 19th IUSSP Laureate.

Jane Menken, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Director of the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder, was honoured as the 2009 IUSSP Laureate during the 26th IUSSP International Population Conference in Marrakech, Morocco. 


During the award ceremony held on Sept 30, 2009, at the IUSSP 26th International Population Conference in Marrakech, Morocco, Jane Menken was honoured by IUSSP President John Cleland and two honorary presidents of the IUSSP, Professor José Alberto Magno de Carvalho (Brazil) and Professor and Senator of the Italian Parliament Massimo Livi Bacci (Italy), as well as former students and colleagues. John Cleland described Jane Menken as “the great matriarch of demography” and the ultimate facilitator of the discipline.  He reviewed her distinguished contributions to the field particularly in developing mathematical models of the reproductive process that initiated a new area of research in reproductive and child health, combined with her contributions to research involving the Matlab Demographic Surveillance System in Bangladesh.  Jane Menken’s efforts in research capacity development through the African Population Studies Training Program at CU-Boulder were also lauded.


Former student Alex Ezeh (Executive Director of the African Population and Health Research Center in Nairobi, Kenya) reminisced about Menken’s influence as a teacher, coach and mentor.  Other colleagues, including Professor José Alberto Magno de Carvalho (Brazil) and Professor and Senator of the Italian Parliament Massimo Livi Bacci (Italy), described her organizational impacts on the IUSSP and the Population Association of America, as she has worked to make the associations more accessible and inclusive.  Hania Zlotnik, another former student and current Director of the UN Population Division, recalled her first impression of Menken, whom she met soon after Menken had finished her PhD at Princeton.  Menken had written a book with Mindel Sheps entitled Mathematical Models of Conception and Birth and Zlotnik had a sense it would be highly influential in the field of fertility studies.  Zlotnik noted that the book, like the author, possessed a “light and cheery cover but with heavy content.”    She described Menken as an influential scholar “in human form” with both “general intelligence and high emotional intelligence.”  



From l. to r:  Musimbe Kanyoro, Mark Collinson ,  Alex Ezeh, Jane Menken , Sam Clark , Nizam Khan. Sept 30, 2009, Marrakech, Morocco.

Letter of nomination submitted on behalf of Jane Menken

Jane Menken is Director of the Institute of Behavioral Science and Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. As part of her fertility research, she has developed mathematical models of reproduction and carried out studies of the increase in sterility as women age, fertility determinants in Bangladesh, and teenage pregnancy and childbearing in the United States. More recent research concerns population policy, child mortality in developing countries, demographic change in South Asia, especially as it relates to family networks as determinants of health and education, effects of early life conditions on adult health, particularly of women, and social impact of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. She is the author of over 100 publications and author or editor of five books. Her research has been funded by grants from the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Fogarty International Center, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.


Menken was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1989), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1990), and the Institute of Medicine (1995) and served as 1985 President of the Population Association of America. She has served on committees of the National Research Council, the operating agency of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, since 1977, including the Committees on Population and Demography, on Population, and on AIDS Research Needs in the Social, Behavioral, and Statistical Sciences, and the Panel on Data and Research Priorities for Arresting AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. She was also a member of the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education and of the U.S. delegation to the 1993 Population Summit of the World's Scientific Academies in New Delhi. She chaired the NAS Committee on Population (1998-2002) and its Working Group on Aging in Africa (2002-2006).


Educated at the University of Pennsylvania (A.B. Mathematics, 1960), Harvard School of Public Health (M.S. in Biostatistics, 1962), and Princeton University (Ph.D., Sociology and Demography, 1975), she held various positions at Princeton University in the Office of Population Research (1975-1987), including Assistant Director (1978-86) and Associate Director (1986-87), and as Professor of Sociology (1980-82) and Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs (1982-87). For 10 years (1987-97), she was UPS Foundation Professor in the Social Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania and, for a 6-year term (1989-1995), the Director of the Population Studies Center. She became a faculty member at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1997.


Menken has served on National Institutes of Health advisory committees; she chaired the Social Sciences and Population Study Section (1980-82) and served on the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director (1995-2000) and the Advisory Board of the Fogarty International Center (2000-2002). She has served on committees at the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation, and on the Board of Directors of the Alan Guttmacher Institute. She frequently acts as a consultant to the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh.


She is Chair of the African Population and Health Research Center (Nairobi, Kenya) Board of Directors, and a member of the Southern African Journal of Demography Editorial Board. She chaired the Steering Committee of the Mellon HIV/AIDS Program at the University of KwaZuluNatal, (Durban, South Africa) and the Scientific Advisory Committee of the INDEPTH Network (20022007). In recognition of her work with the University of the Witwatersrand on collaborative research on HIV/AIDS and in developing their Population Studies Program, Wits awarded her an Honorary Professorship. Wits and APHRC are associated with the CU African Population Studies Research and Training Program, directed by Menken and supported through grants from the Mellon Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the NIH Fogarty International Center and the National Institute on Aging.


Menken has also served the IUSSP loyally in many capacities:

  • Committee to Review Headquarters, 1998-99
  • Council Member, 1989-1993; 1993-1997
  • Organizing Committee, 1985 General Conference
  • Organizing Committee, Seminar on Nuptiality and Fertility, Bruges, 1979
  • Committee on the Comparative Analysis of Fertility, 1975-1978
  • Co-editor with Henri Leridon of Natural Fertility (Patterns and Determinants of Natural Fertility: Proceedings of a Seminar). Liege, Belgium: Ordina Editions. 556 pp.

Because of her distinguished career as a demographer, including service to the Union, she richly deserves to be named Laureate.