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The Population Europe Policy Lab

Experience Driven | Evidence Informed | Better Policies

Experts around a table with microphones

Image courtesy of the Cabinet of the European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography

What is the Population Europe Policy Lab?

  • The Policy Lab is the platform used by Population Europe to foster exchange between policy, the private sector, civil society and academia in order to advance mutual understanding and to cultivate new knowledge about policy relevant demographic developments. 
  • Building on the experience of Population Europe in dissemination, communication and facilitation, the Policy Lab offers a range of tools that enable exchange between different sectors that is grounded in the latest scientific analysis. 
  • It takes a “transdisciplinary” or a cross-sectoral approach: interaction with stakeholders, from the international to the local level, is not an afterthought or an add-on to a research programme, but a crucial part of the process of generating knowledge at the science-policy interface.  

We adopt the concept of a laboratory seriously: 

  • The Policy Lab promotes real and relevant cross-fertilisation between research and practice
  • This requires the creation of an open learning environment where top-level researchers and decision-makers can exchange ideas, if necessary in a confidential working atmosphere. 
  • It offers a “testing ground” where policy-relevant research findings are analysed and elaborated on by practitioners and the public and where science-based policy assessments are complemented by policy options and recommendations. 
  • To ensure inclusivity of stakeholders, non-technical language is used in communications and there is a clear commitment to providing non-partisan advice guided by the principles of good scientific practice.


EU Vice president Dubravka Suica in a group photo with Population Europe experts
Meeting with EU Vice-President Dubravka Šuica in March 2024. Image: Cabinet of the European Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography


The Policy Lab’s activities typically start from the beginning of a project: 

  • After a thorough stakeholder analysis to identify relevant institutions (multiplier organisations and policy areas where we can have the most impact), we invite selected groups of eminent experts to an agenda-setting workshop to discuss a project's objectives and to engage with decision-makers and analysts. 
  • This exercise is also critical for designing an effective stakeholder dialogue programme, which is a mix of high-level policy expert meetings (with smaller groups of participants in a confidential atmosphere), stakeholder events (addressing larger audiences, that can include citizens and other interested parties), as well as public events and dialogue series (in which wider audiences can engage in discussion with experts). 

Population Europe’s publications serve to communicate and to disseminate the outcomes of the Policy Lab to different target groups and broad audiences. Our publication formats include: 

  • Population & Policy Insights, which are short, blog-like pieces written by researchers, politicians and NGO representatives, and
  • Population & Policy Digests, which contain brief summaries of policy-relevant research publications that allow practitioners to easily access current research results. 
  • In our Population & Policy Repository, we publish reports on various topics, up to the length of a discussion paper, which make links to relevant policy developments. Social media, particularly LinkedIn, help to further communicate the outcomes of the Policy Lab among our target audience of professionals. 
  • The Population & Policy Newsletter is another tool that we use to make information accessible to our audience, recognising the diverse needs and preferences of different communities. 

The Policy Lab’s activities are tailored to target groups who gain from easy and open access to high-level scientific evidence, including decision makers, community leaders and administrative experts, multiplicator organisations and civil society actors, media representatives as well as individual citizens, at the international, European, national, regional and the local levels.  

Topics discussed in the Policy Lab can be driven by research agendas as well as by policy priorities. By bringing together scientific evidence and practitioner experience, the Lab also serves to support the development of policy approaches on a range of societal issues, such as:

  • Demographic change and voter behaviour and preferences, 
  • The formation of identities and sense of belonging, territorial and social cohesion in the face of growing population diversity, 
  • Migration and mobility, 
  • The provision of local infrastructure (including education, informal and institutional care, housing, social spaces and other essential services), and 
  • The role of administrations, civil society actors and other policy actors in addressing the challenges of demographic change.  

In line with its mission and track-record, Population Europe and its Policy Lab seek input from a broad range of disciplines, including anthropology, data science, demography, economics, ethnology, gerontology, history, legal studies, political science, psychology, sociology, and statistics. As knowledge sharing improves adaptability to crises and new situations, this approach builds resilience for all involved.


Podium discussion at Futurium Museum in Berlin. Rows of audience, a panel of 6, A person speaking on a projected image
Policy panel at Berlin Demography Days in January 2024. Image: Population Europe


The Laboratory is supported by an Advisory Board of eminent scholars and experts who also advise the European Commission and other international and national governmental bodies and research institutions: 

  • Arnstein Aassve, Professor in Demography, PI of the Horizon Europe project “Towards a resilient future of Europe” (FutuRes), Bocconi University, Milan (Chair)
  • Matthias Bergmann, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Social-Ecological Research in Frankfurt a.M. and Honorary Professor at the Institute for Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research at the Leuphana University Lüneburg, Berlin
  • Agnieszka Chłoń-Domińczak, Director of the Institute of Statistics and Demography and Vice Rector for Research at SGH Warsaw School of Economics
  • Helga A.G. de Valk, Director of the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, The Hague
  • Naika Fouroutan, Director of the German Center for Integration and Migration Research (DeZIM), Berlin
  • Christian Kobsda, Head of the Berlin Office of the Max Planck Society
  • Michaela Kreyenfeld, Director of the Einstein Center Population Diversity and Professor of Sociology at Hertie School, Berlin
  • Wolfgang Lutz, Founding Director of the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital, Vienna
  • Melinda Mills, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, Oxford
  • Claudia Neu, Professor of Sociology of Rural Areas University of Gottingen / Kassel
  • Jürgen Renn, Founding Director of the Max Planck Institute of Geoanthropology, Jena
  • C. Katharina Spieß, Director of the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB), Wiesbaden
  • Pieter Vanhuysse, MAE, Professor of Political Economy and Public Policy at the University of Southern Denmark, and Chair at the Danish Institute for Advanced Study


Person speaking at a lectern. EU Parliament logo in the background