Le Centre de Recherche en Démographie recrute un(e) doctorant(e)

The Centre for Demographic Research of UCLouvain (Belgium – www.uclouvain.be/demo) recruits a PhD student to work on ‘Becoming a mother without a partner at later ages: the role of socio-economic characteristics and proximity to parents’ (2 +2 years)


Project Description

This PhD project will investigate a relatively new way of entering motherhood: not living with a partner, at advanced ages (30+). Most previous research on mothers who do not live with a partner at childbirth, abbreviated here as ‘single mothers’, focused on socially disadvantaged young women who became pregnant unintentionally. However, postponement of motherhood, difficulties finding a partner, concerns about declining fecundity, and the option of assisted reproduction contributed to a changing picture. Research on young single mothers reveals that grandparents tend to co-parent, thereby replacing the absent father. To date, little is known about what determines late single motherhood from a longitudinal perspective. Proximity to parents, as well as sufficient economic resources, may be crucial for entering this family form, its heterogeneity and its stability. Most of existing knowledge comes from small-sample data.

We will investigate how women’s age, socio-economic status and proximity to parents affect the likelihood of becoming a single mother. We will differentiate single mothers by mode of conception (natural versus medically assisted) and whether the father is known in the population register, and investigate income changes and whether the single mothers enter a partnership, using unique information from Belgian registers and event-history-modelling techniques.


Working conditions

This project has received funding from UCLouvain (FSR) for 2 years. Extension for another 2 years will be possible. The dissertation will be supervised by Prof. Christine Schnor (UCLouvain). The project will benefit from collaboration with international experts.

This position offers the opportunity to develop quantitative method skills through work with longitudinal register data with full population coverage; to work in an international research group; to participate in the doctoral training offered at UCLouvain; to present in international conferences; to have research stays abroad.

We are looking for candidates with:

  • a Master degree in population studies, demography, human geography, economics, sociology or another relevant social science;
  • excellent study results and CV;
  • excellent quantitative research skills and proven experience in multivariate statistical analyses of large survey or register data sets;
  • good writing skills and fluency in written and spoken English; preferably already experience in academic writing in English
  • a keen interest in family demography;
  • willingness to attend conferences abroad and to spend periods of several weeks working abroad with the second supervisor and collaborating partners;
  • knowledge of French or willingness to attend French language courses;
  • strong conceptual thinking;
  • strong motivation, good communicative skills, proactive and independent work attitude;
  • strong planning skills, ability to organize own work and related activities, ability to meet deadlines;
  • a great curiosity and enthusiasm for scientific research.


Center for Demographic Research (DEMO)

The Center for Demographic Research (DEMO) at UCLouvain belongs to the Institute for the Analysis of Change in Contemporary and Historical Societies (IACCHOS). DEMO, funded in 1963, is a vibrant medium-size (~ 40 researchers) research group that gathers population researchers from all over the world. DEMO is conducting fundamental and applied research in demography around 7 themes: historical and contemporary demography of Belgium (1), data and method development (2), fertility, family transformations and gender relations (3), international migration and integration (4), population and health dynamics in low- and middle-income countries (5), the challenges of ageing (6), and population, environment and energy (7). The center is known for its organization of the yearly international Quetelet Seminar and the international Quetelet Journal.

The PhD project will contribute to DEMO’s research theme “Fertility, Family Transformations and Gender Relations”.



  • Starting date: ideally October 2022 (later starting date possible).
  • Duration: 24 + 24 months
  • Net monthly allowance starts at 2,102 €.

We warmly invite you to apply for this vacancy, if you are interested and will have completed your Master degree before September 2022.


We ask you to submit:

  • a motivation letter,
  • your complete CV, including the grades obtained during your Master programme and the names and contact details of two reference persons.
  • Candidates who are shortlisted will be asked to submit written work (e.g. MA thesis or papers) at a later stage.



  • You may apply for this position until 1 August 2022.
  • Send your application (all documents in one pdf file) to christine.schnor@uclouvain.be and valerie.francotte@uclouvain.be mentioning in the subject PHD POSITION DEMO 02-2022.
  • Interviews with the selection committee will take place in mid-August (online).



Candidates who want more information about the research project or the recruitment process should contact christine.schnor@uclouvain.be (out of office in July)

Publié le 14 juin 2022