Lars Østby has been working as demographer at Statistics Norway since professor Jan Hoem hired him in 1970. He was heavily involved in the national work with the World Fertility Survey (WFS) in the 70s, with the Family and Fertility Survey (FFS) in the 80s and 90s, and in the international work organized by UNECE-PAU under Jerzy Berent, and later Miroslav Macura. In addition to being vital for the Norwegian surveys, he made efforts to establish a frame for comparative reporting of national surveys. FFS brought international cooperation and coordination in demography to a new level. But, in working with standardized reporting templates, also the shortcomings of the work were illustrated.
Østby took part in the meetings where GGP was founded, and in the preparations. He represented the competence and interests of the national statistical institutes. With the contributions of the NSIs, the coverage and the data quality of GGS was ensured. In the meetings, many strong personalities with substantially different interests should find common solutions, and Østby’s contribution might have been more as a diplomat than scientist.
Around the turn of the century, Østby stepped down as director of research and devoted more and more time to study immigration and integration, and to inform the authorities and the public. Statistics Norway prioritized to develop register data and was less active in GGP-like surveys. With younger demographers like Trude Lappegård and Lars Dommermuth, Statistics Norway again took part in developing GGP. To enhance empirical analysis of immigration and integration has been Østby’s task and pleasure.
To understand the process and the consequences of the changing demography of Europe, and to meet the new needs on individual and social level, we need better, and better coordinated, data from all contexts. An active and well-functioning GGP is indeed needed to hit this moving target, also in the future.
Click here for more information on the first GGP Consortium Board meeting in 2000 and other founders of the GGP.