About / History

The Generations and Gender Programme (GGP) was launched in 2000 by the Population Unit of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and has been coordinated by the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute since 2009. It is a social science Research Infrastructure that provides harmonized, large-scale, longitudinal, cross-national panel data on individual life courses and family dynamics. Over time, the GGP follows respondents through relationships, marriages, parenthood, divorces, deaths and many of the opportunities and challenges that people face along the way. It then tracks the causes and consequences of these events at the individual and societal levels.  The contextual database complements the survey data with regional and national level indicators to help increase our understanding of the role policy and other contextual factors play in individuals’ and families’ lives. These open access data resources, curated by the GGP, are ideally suited to formulate scientifically-informed and policy-relevant answers to key societal questions.

The GGP is as a successor to the Fertility and Family Survey (FFS) which was conducted in the 1990s. The FFS was a cross-nationally comparative survey programme conducted by the Population Unit of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. The survey was carried on in 24 countries during the 1990s. The FFS micro-level data is compatible and comparable with the GGP datasets enabling analysis of longer periods of time and different populations.

From its inception, the GGP has strongly relied upon the commitment of the participating institutions to achieve its large-scale ambition. The GGP as it exists today is possible due to the efforts of its Consortium comprised of renowned representatives of international institutes with strong traditions in academic research on population, family change and survey methodology. At the national level, participating institutions have invested major fundraising efforts to implement the national micro- and macro-level data collections, with most funds being provided either by national governments, by statistical offices and/or by national science foundations. Some participating institutions have invested considerable funds in data collection from their own resources. At the international level, the coordination and development of the GGP relies heavily on Consortium Board institutions.

Some of the GGP’s key milestones include:

  • In 2000, UNECE launched the Programme at the international meeting Generations & Gender: Research into their behavior and quality of life in Geneva, where experts from population research institutes and statistical offices defined the aims, organization and general principles of the methodology of the Programme.
  • In 2007, a two-year grant from EU-DG Employment entitled Generations & Gender Programme: Policy-Relevant Insights into Causes and Consequences of Demographic Change (Agreement No 30-CE-0121820/00-30), provided support for the then programme coordinator UNECE and allowed for an acceleration of the programme’s development.
  • In 2008, results of the first Generations and Gender Surveys were reviewed and discussed at the UNECE conference How Generations and Gender Shape Demographic Change in Geneva. The Conference demonstrated internationally the first findings and rich potential of the Programme and discussed the expectations of policymakers from across Europe and North America.
  • In 2009, a subsequent EU-DG Research grant entitled ‘Design Studies for Research Infrastructures’ funded under the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) which ran from 2009-2012 signified a further major change in the tempo of development, enabling a strategic rethink of the Programme’s long-term strategy. The Design Study was used to critically assess and update the GGP’s programme of work including both the methodological components inherent to large-scale cross-national studies and to prepare the Blueprint for GGP’s future as an autonomous, sustainable international research infrastructure.
  • In 2016, the GGP obtained the status of Emerging Project by the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). The ESFRI committee noted the GGP’s scientific excellence as well as its European added value and socio-economic impact.
  • In 2016, the GGP received funding for the Horizon 2020-funded Generations & Gender Programme: Evaluate, Plan and Initiate (GGP EPI) to further pursue the programme’s aim to continue to expand its potential for scientific advancement, innovation and societal impact (2016-2019) (Grant Agreement No 739511).  The GGP EPI project provides the GGP with the means to institutionalize and further formalize key processes required to position GGP for a successful application for inclusion in the ESFRI Roadmap 2020 as a sustainable, world-class research infrastructure accessible to all researchers in Europe and beyond.

The GGP’s unique data resources continue to strengthen the knowledge base for social science and public policymaking in Europe and developed countries elsewhere.

Previous and current coordinators:

  • 2000-2002 : Ms. Martine Corijn (UNECE Population Unit)
  • 2002-2004 : Dr. Alphonse L. MacDonald (UNECE Population Unit)
  • 2004-2009 : Dr. Andres Vikat (UNECE Population Unit)
  • 2009-2013 : Professor Aat Liefbroer (NIDI)
  • 2013-present : Professor Anne H. Gauthier (NIDI)

Previous and current Chairs of the Consortium Board:

  • 2000-2012 : Professor John Hobcraft (University of York)
  • 2012-present     : Professor Francesco Billari (Bocconi University)
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