Research Agenda

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The mission of demographic research is to provide a better understanding of population dynamics and the consequences of the change on well being at individual and societal levels. The central foci of the PSRI agenda include – fertility, reproductive health, mortality and morbidity, migration, family and household structures and the population distribution and characteristics. These are integrally intertwined with population and well being.

What then are the strategic goals of the research agenda?


  • Basic research focuses on population processes and their social, economic and cultural determinants and consequences. The goal is to highlight the findings that improve the lives of people. 

  • Program Intervention research focuses mainly on the development and evaluation of theory – based behavioral interventions
  • Policy research is intended to support research that informs public policy through scientific studies of demographic change as well as research that assesses the impact of public policies of demographic behaviour and population change.

    How will the agenda accomplish its mission?

    The vitality of population research depends on the interplay of many contributing disciplines.




    Studies on fertility and fertility continue to dominate demographic studies worldwide. However, key concerns within the Kenyan development rest on continued high population growth rate. More importantly is the surprising fertility transition stall in the recent times.


    The ways in which families, households are formed and dissolved have critical implications.  The focus therefore is to search on critical explanations causes and consequences of these on the general well being of the society.  Core areas include, changing patterns of family formation and family diversity (delay in marriage, cohabitation, non marital childbearing, teen child bearing); fertility intentions and desires; fatherhood.


    The other key area connected with fertility and the family is the Intergenerational research. The family is an economic institution. In recent times several developments have occurred that have threatened this aspect of the family.  How do family members adapt to the changing fortunes and needs of its members by moving resources up and down the generational ladder. What are the effects of public policies on inter and intergenerational wealth transfers and the effects on demographic processes especially on actual fertility and fertility intentions 



    Spatial distribution

    Rural poverty is often associated with vulnerability to environmental conditions. By relating population distribution to environmental characteristics, the underlying causes of poverty can be better understood and addressed. Population distribution is therefore one
    of the key variables that, if carefully assessed and analysed, can help to target governmental interventions to reduce poverty and improve living conditions.


    Migration and development

    Research programs aimed at linking the broad area of migration and community with national development. Of particular interest research is the relationship between immigrant communities in the receiving and the growth and development prospects of the sending areas. Another focus is the analyses with a special focus on skills migration and a review of government policies and capacity related to skills migration. It is now recognized that both international and internal migration raise similar questions about the relationship of migration to development, including the ways in which both poverty and development can serve as stimuli for migration and shape the direction, volume and composition of migration flows. Equally, important is the consideration that not only the benefits of remittances and return migration but also questions of skill ‘brain’ drain from sending regions and the impact of migrants on receiving economies.

    Both internal and international flows also involve not only economic but also social remittances. These social remittances include changes in gender norms and fertility patterns or governance structure that may have a long-range impact on development while others may be neutral or even detrimental in their effects.


    The studies of migration do have methodological challenges that confront scholars researching international and internal migration. Despite the fact that inter national migration takes place across borders and internal within national borders, both create families that are "translocal," requiring multi-site research and the tracing of links between communities. In both cases, scholars must often work with undocumented, vulnerable, or hard to reach populations.  Attempts to understand the nature of decisions  and decision making process that are often made within the privacy of households, and estimate flows of money and other resources in situations where many exchanges take place through informal channels is difficult to achieve.


    Migration and health

    Critical themes remain as the possible relationships between circular migration and diseases such as Malaria spread, HIV/AIDS. How does HIV/AIDS affect migration and population mobility patterns? The separation from family and sexual partners, poverty and exploitation (for example of trafficked boys and girls), may increase stress and vulnerability. Labour migration in response to local conditions of poverty can create increased susceptibility to HIV infection.

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