Hybrid Format

Towards a Social Demography of Bereavement.

Ashton Verdery, The Pennsylvania State University
Online or at Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, June 04, 2024

© BonaFide Photography

As part of the Suessmilch Lecture series, Ashton Verdery from The Pennsylvania State University will speak about "Towards a Social Demography of Bereavement".

The event begins at 3 pm CEST on June 4, 2024.


The study of death is foundational to the field of demography, including in the work of Johann Petter Süßmilch, yet demographers have tended to view death atomistically rather than socially. This is ironic given the field's focus on the importance of aggregation, keen understanding of population processes, and the central role that death experiences hold in the field's elemental theories of mechanisms driving demographic change. In this lecture, I outline an agenda for a social demography of bereavement, the state of having lost a close person to death, which I argue provides a lens to view death as a social rather than individual phenomenon. I review recent work in this area and highlight specific places demographers can contribute to its growth. Rather than being a peripheral area of the field, I argue that demographers should view bereavement as a central piece of population structure, population dynamics, and population impacts. This talk is based in part on collaboration with Dr. Emily Smith-Greenaway, Dr. Deborah Carr, and others.

About the Speaker

Dr. Ashton Verdery is a Professor of Sociology, Demography, & Social Data Analytics in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at The Pennsylvania State University, holding a partial appointment in the Institute for Computational and Data Sciences. Originally from Turners Falls, Massachusetts, Dr. Verdery obtained a B.A. in Sociology from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 2007, where he graduated with First Class Honors and completed a study abroad at St. Petersburg State University in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2006. He then obtained an M.A. in 2010 and a Ph.D. in 2015 in Sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before beginning as an Assistant Professor at Penn State in 2015. He was awarded tenure, promoted to Associate Professor, and became the department’s first Harry and Elissa Sichi Early Career Professor in 2020.

Dr. Verdery’s research and teaching interests center around demographic and family change in cross-national comparison and as linked to individual and population health, with particular emphasis on the development and use of novel methodologies to improve and apply sampling, modeling, projecting, and forecasting techniques. Most of his scholarship focuses on the United States and China, though he has conducted extensive research in other contexts including Latin America, Southeast Asia, Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Dr. Verdery’s work has resulted in over 70 peer reviewed publications in top scientific journals, as well as over 20 additional scholarly contributions to national and international media outlets like the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Foreign Affairs. He has conducted more than 20 university, foundation, and federally funded research projects, grants, and contracts, many of them as Principal Investigator. He is a former Deputy Editor of the peer-reviewed academic journal Sociological Methodology published by the American Sociological Association and has served on numerous advisory boards, editorial boards, foundations, councils, and committees.


Please register via this survey for online participation. The Zoom link will be sent to you afterwards. The event begins at 3 pm CEST on June 4, 2024.


Süßmilch Lecture

As part of the Suessmilch Lecture series, Ashton Verdery from The Pennsylvania State University will speak about "Towards a Social Demography of Bereavement".

Date: June 4, 2024
Time: 15 pm (CEST)

Please register via this survey to participate online. The Zoom link will then be sent to you.

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The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.