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Our History

From a "niche" collection of social demographers, the Center has grown through commitments from the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, the Provost of the University of Maryland, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development.


The Maryland Population Research Center (formerly the Center on Population, Gender and Social Inequality), was initially created in 1988 as a small, high quality "niche" center. For its first decade, the Center's membership consisted solely of social demographers from the University of Maryland's Department of Sociology. That Center greatly influenced the agenda for research on gender inequality and population processes and made significant contributions to the subspecialty of family and social demography.

In 1998, faculty members recognized that the University of Maryland's group of labor economists – who were engaged in empirical research on inequality, health, and population issues – had a shared research agenda with Maryland's demographers in the sociology department. The sociologists and economists joined together to secure a University commitment to the Center under a proposed "Demography of Inequality" (DOI) Initiative.

University commitment

Based on this partnership, the University established population research as a priority area for growth by funding the DOI Initiative during the 1999-2000 academic year. This brought permanent funding to hire five new senior faculty members working in the population sciences and to support the infrastructure of the Maryland Population Research Center.

During the 1999-2002 academic years, the group hired new faculty and solidified the involvement of 38 Faculty Associates, including faculty from Anthropology, African American Studies, Criminology & Criminal Justice, Family Science, Geography, and the Joint Program in Survey Methodology. This new interdisciplinary faculty continued to focus on issues of social and economic inequality and issues of work and the family. However, the Center also expanded its work to include other important areas in population research, including health and disability over the life-course.

NIH funding (R24)

In Summer 2002, the Center was awarded a Population Research Infrastructure Program (R24) grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver-National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), making it one of only 15 population research centers nationally. (This grant was renewed in July 2007 and July 2012.) In Fall 2002 the Center's Faculty Associates voted unanimously to change the Center's name to Maryland Population Research Center – a more inclusive name that better represented the new, truly inter- and multi-disciplinary focus of the Center.

Today MPRC includes 92 Faculty Associates from 19 University departments across 8 colleges and schools including, most recently, units in the School of Public Health. The cross-disciplinary research interests of our faculty allow the Center to make a unique contribution to the field of population studies and to develop a variety of young scholars and encourage scholars from allied fields to engage in population-related research through research support, training, and mentoring.