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The Australian National University

Dr Heather Booth

BSc(Econ) (London), MSc (Southampton), PhD (London)
Associate Professor/Reader
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Areas of expertise

  • Demography 1603
  • Mortality 160304
  • Stochastic Analysis And Modelling 010406
  • Population Trends And Policies 160305
  • Social Change 160805
  • Family And Household Studies 160301
  • Pacific Peoples Health 111715
  • Sociology And Social Studies Of Science And Technology 160808

Research interests


Heather’s research is situated in the DEMOGRAPHY OF AGEING. This includes:

- The future of structural population ageing through dynamic stochastic modelling. Heather is an international expert in stochastic modelling and forecasting of demographic rates and populations.

- The role of social networks with family and friends in the well-being of older people, and the socio-demography of ageing and longevity.

- Socio-demographic determinants of self-rated health and well-being at older ages.

- Socio-demographic determinants of Internet use for social networking among older people.

- Understanding mortality patterns and transitions through modelling and decomposition.

- The future of longevity and mortality at very old ages, and its implications.

- Microsimulation modelling of family structures: ageing in context.


Heather Booth is Associate Professor of Demography at the Australian Demographic and Social Research Institute (ADSRI) in the ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences. She has over 30 years' experience in demographic research in developed and developing countries.

Heather leads the ADSRI Group on Longevity, Ageing and Mortality (GLAM).

In 2012, Heather won the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) Award for Excellence in Supervision. Heather also served as ANU Convenor of Graduate Research in Demography in 2011.

Heather is Founding Editor of the Journal of Population Research (JPR), an international peer-reviewed journal launched in 2000, which she edited from 2000 to 2006.

Heather began her career at the London School of Economics before moving to the USA to join the POPLAB program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her doctoral research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Heather developed the Booth Standard for use with the Brass Relational Gompertz Model of fertility.

After completing her doctorate, Heather undertook research on ethnic minority populations in Britain and Western Europe. In 1984, Heather relocated to Nouméa, New Caledonia to take up a position as demographer with the South Pacific Commission, working throughout the Pacific Islands. She later worked as an international consultant for a wide range of funding agencies. After migrating to Australia, Heather joined the ANU Demography and Sociology Program in 1998.

Heather has published on a wide range of topics including demographic modelling and forecasting, population ageing, socio-demography of ageing and longevity, mortality decomposition, Pacific Island demography and the timing of family formation, suicide among Pacific Island youth, European migration and ethnic minority populations, demographic estimation and gender statistics.


Researcher's projects

Heather leads the Social Networks and Ageing Project (SNAP) funded under an ARC Linkage grant (2010-2012).

Heather is a Chief Investigator on the $2million NHMRC/ARC Dynamic Analyses to Optimise Ageing (DYNOPTA) project (2007-2012) and leads the development of the DYNOPTA microsimulation model of the future of age-related disability in Australia (DYNOPTA-SIM).

Heather is Associate Investigator in an ANU node of the $12.7million ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR) coordinated by UNSW (2011-2017).

Heather jointly leads (with Zhongwei Zhao) the Interdisciplinary Microsimulation Project (IMP) (2011-2014) funded by the CASS Interdisciplinary Research Fund.

Heather coordinates ongoing collaborative research in demographic forecasting with colleagues at Monash University, Macquarie University, the University of Southampton and the Paris-based Institut national d'etudes demographiques. This highly cost-effective research uses publicly available data. Several small grants have facilitated this collaborative research over the last twelve-years.

Heather leads the ADSRI Group on Longevity, Ageing and Mortality (GLAM).

Available student projects

Prospective students in ageing research may be eligible for an additional scholarship of $5000 per annum under association with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research.

Opportunities exist with the Social Networks and Ageing Project (SNAP) to use existing and prospective survey data on social networks and successful ageing for doctoral research. A national sample of >2000 persons aged 50+ includes data on face-to-face and non-face-to-face communication with family members and friends, and multiple indicators of successful ageing. Online methods of communication are also explored in the survey. Opportunities also exist under the SNAP project to study online social networking behaviour among older persons (please see page for Dr Robert Ackland). There are no new SNAP scholarships for this research.

In addition, students wishing to undertake research in the following fields are encouraged to contact Heather (heather.booth AT

- socio-demography of ageing (for example, informal aged care; contemporary family structures and the older person; distance to kin and well-being; increasing longevity and its implications; intergenerational influences on social connectedness; repartnering in later life; the impact of widowhood and divorce in later life)

- applications in demographic modelling and forecasting (for example, comparative mortality forecasts, fertility modelling and forecasting, consistent population forecasting)

- mortality and longevity (for example, comparative mortality patterns; mortality at the oldest ages; centenarians)

- demographic microsimulation (for example, the supply and demand for informal care; intergenerational family structures)

- other demographic and social science research on ageing

Current student projects

Two doctoral research projects are funded under the Social Networks and Ageing Project:

- The role of social connectedness in the retirement process

- Methods for social network analysis

Other current doctoral student projects include:

- Australian mortality in the 19th and early 20th centuries

- The experiences and pathways of discontinuing school children in Fiji

- Social support at older ages in Vietnam

- Modelling Long Term Care in Australia: What Place of Insurance?

Past student projects


Gender, ethnicity and wellbeing of the elderly in Indonesia

Cardio-vascular mortality in Chinese cities


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Updated:  18 April 2014 / Responsible Officer:  Pro VC (Research and Research Training) / Page Contact:  Researchers