Letter from the Editor

The New Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital:

A Hub for Demographic Analyses in Vienna

bridges vol. 29, April 2011 / Feature Articles


By Wolfgang Lutz

wittgenstein_horz_mid_small.jpg Established in January 2011 and located in Vienna, Austria, the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital aims to become a world leader in demographic analyses of human capital formation and its impact on society, the economy, and the environment. Fundamental to the Centre's research is the belief that education is the key to an equitable and sustainable world.

The primary goal of the Wittgenstein Centre is to better understand the role of human capital and the production of human "wellbeing". Human capital refers to the human resource base in terms of the number of people and their changing structure in terms of age, gender, location, level of education, health status, and cognitive skill. Ultimately we hope that the Centre's findings will provide a sound scientific foundation for decision-making in many levels and sectors of society.

european_demographic_data_sheet_cover_small.jpgEuropean Demographic Data Sheet

The Centre is a collaboration between the Vienna Institute of Demography of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), and the new Research Institute on Human Capital and Development, Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU). It combines the partners' strengths in the fields of demography, human capital formation and analysis of the returns to education in order to establish a globally leading centre in this field. It also builds on an existing and highly successful collaboration between the three partners that has evolved over several years and generated significant ideas and scientific advances, such as the European Demographic Data Sheet 2010 and Asian Demographic & Human Capital Data Sheet 2008.   

Establishment of the Centre was made possible by the substantial research funding associated with the Wittgenstein Prize , or Austro Nobel-the highest science prize in Austria-, which I've been awarded in 2010. Significantly this was the first time ever that the prize was awarded to a social scientist. The Centre is also financially supported via two European Research Council (see bridges interview with ERC president Helga Nowotny in this issue) grants, one was awarded to a fellow research leader in the Centre, IIASA's Vegard Skirbekk, and the other grant was awarded to myself.

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