On 23 and 24 May the Demographic Research Institute of Hungary's Central Statistical Office hosted the first Users' Conference of the Generations and Gender Programme (GGP). The conference—organized in cooperation with the Population unit of UNECE and the consortium board of the GGP—was an opportunity for all researchers who make use of the programme's unique data sets to come together and share their research findings, discuss future research priorities, and evaluate the quality of the data.
The GGP, initiated by UNECE in 2000 and now run by a consortium of 12 leading demographic research organizations, is a two-pillar programme consisting of internationally comparable, theory-driven, large sample panel surveys and a contextual database. In combination these pillars are designed to shed light on the full spectrum of factors influencing contemporary demographic trends, including family-building behaviours, migration, and relationships between generations and between the genders. As the challenges of population ageing, low fertility and the need for intergenerational solidarity become ever greater, the GGP is establishing itself as a key data source for policy-relevant research that can get to the root of these issues. First wave survey data are currently available for 11 countries, and can be accessed via . The contextual database can be found at and currently contains detailed data for 10 countries.
The theme of the conference was 'Demographic and Social Challenges in an Ageing Europe'. Over 100 participants attended and 45 papers were presented, showcasing research on a broad range of topics from well-being of the elderly to survey methodology. The high level of attendance of participants from countries in the east of the UNECE region was especially welcome. An award for the best paper of the conference was presented to a team of researchers from Estonia, Lithuania and Russia (Leen Rahnu, Allan Puur, Vlada Stankūniené, Ausra Maslauskaite and Sergei Zakharov), whose paper, “Changing mode of first union formation in the countries of Eastern Europe: the significance of less and more distant demographic divides”, compared marriage patterns in seven Eastern European countries with those of four Western European countries, demonstrating the power of the GGP in cross-country comparative studies.