February 27, 2023 | News | Welcome to the MPIDR

Sanny Boy Domingo Afable is a new PhD Student at the Laboratory of Population Health


Sanny Boy Domingo Afable comes from the Population Institute of the University of the Philippines to the MPIDR. There he obtained his Master of Arts in Demography. He is part of the joint St Andrews–Max Planck PhD Studentship. He is going to work at the MPIDR until October 2024 and will complete the program in St Andrews. 

What question drives you most in your research?

My dissertation project concerns how adult children contribute to the health and survival of their parents. What comes to mind is the role of residential proximity, co-residence, and other threads that bind older people and their adult children, who are both undergoing major life course transitions. Although I will mostly be working on longitudinal data from high-income countries, I find this topic personally relevant given how central the family is in almost every aspect of Asian societies like the Philippines. When I conceptualize my research, I sometimes draw inspiration from — and am also curious about — my aging parents. In what ways does our 9,700 kilometer-distance affect them? Do our everyday online exchanges offset the effect of this distance? It’s not that these questions keep me awake at night, but sometimes my research does.

What are you looking forward to as you start working at the MPIDR?

I look forward to meeting people with diverse backgrounds and research interests, joining courses and talks, and working on some high-quality data. I am also excited about participating in conferences, interacting with scholars whose works I have just read in demography journals, and just enjoying the espresso maker in our floor’s pantry.

What do you like most about Rostock?

A few former colleagues of mine who had the chance to visit Rostock described the city in rather gloomy terms. I have the opposite view so far: Rostock is such a peaceful but vibrant city. I have all I need within walking distance. Locals seem friendly and speak better English than I do. The cold is quite tolerable and would be perfect with a bottle of beer. My office also has a lovely view of the river – I think that’s what I like the most about the city so far. They say Rostock is best experienced in summer, so I am very much looking forward to that.

What are you obsessed with at the moment besides demography?

Since I came here, I have taught myself how to cook. There is a nearby Asian store where I can buy more familiar ingredients, but they can be quite expensive, so I have also been experimenting with what I get from local groceries. So far, I am impressed with the results. You should try my chicken adobo.

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.