Environment, Population, and Health

Many areas in the Asia Pacific region are experiencing rapid social, economic, and environmental change. Industrialization, urbanization, economic growth, and population change—together with loss of biodiversity, modifications to coastal areas and tropical rainforests, and the effects of global climate change—all these developments make the region a “hot spot” from the perspective of global change and sustainable development.

Research at the East-West Center focuses on the changing environment in the Asia-Pacific region and on regional and global trends in population and health.

Research on the Environment

Poultry market in northern VietnamEnvironmental research at the East-West Center focuses on critical interactions between the environment and human society and promotes strong links between science and policy. Center scholars seek to develop regional communities of scientists, policymakers in the public and private sectors, resource managers, and community members. The goal is to conduct relevant scientific research and translate the results into useful information for regional, national, and local policymakers and communities. Within this framework, individual projects focus on current issues of regional significance, illuminate critical gaps in scientific understanding, and explore innovative approaches to establishing effective partnerships within the Asia Pacific community that will sustain both people and the environment.

Researchers are conducting environmental studies in six priority areas.

Helping Pacific Island Communities Respond to Climate Change. The Pacific Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment Program ( supports integrated research across the social and physical sciences to expand the options of decision-makers facing climate variability and change….

Economic Development and Land-Use Change in South and Southeast Asia. Three collaborative research projects link social-science data collected at household and community levels with remotely sensed and other spatial data to study the driving forces and multiple impacts of land-use change:

Modernization and Emerging Infectious Diseases: The Case of Avian Influenza in Vietnam. A collaborative study explores the mechanisms that underlie the emergence of new and reemerging infectious diseases, focusing on outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Vietnam….

Cities at Risk: Building Institutional Capacity for Adaptation to Climate Change in Asian Coastal Cities. This project links scientists and policymakers in Asia’s large coastal cities to address the practical and policy challenges they face as a result of climate change….

Community Management of Natural Resources. The East-West Center is conducting collaborative research and training in community management of natural resources in Burma (Myanmar) and Bangladesh….

Pacific Basin Consortium for Environment and Health. The Pacific Basin Consortium for Environment and Health Sciences (PBC) provides a forum for individuals and organizations with diverse professional expertise and geographic backgrounds to develop and disseminate innovative strategies for addressing the most pressing environment and health issues of our time….

Spatial Information Laboratory. The Spatial Information Laboratory at the East-West Center endeavors to develop and increase the use of remote sensing data, geographic information systems (GIS), and global positioning system (GPS) technology for mapping and assessing environmental conditions….

Research on Population and Health

A woman with her grandson in Chiang Mai, Thailand

The East-West Center conducts basic and applied research on critical population and health issues facing the Asia-Pacific region, offers professional education and training, and facilitates the exchange of information among policymakers, program managers, and scholars. The objective is to improve understanding of how social, economic, cultural, political, and environmental conditions interact with demographic and health trends and to contribute to the formulation of effective population, health, and development policies and programs.

Current research focuses on four important concerns:

Population Change and Economic Growth. Changes in fertility and mortality can have profound economic effects on a society through changes in the population age structure….

The HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Asia. The East-West Center conducts policy analysis, research, and training on HIV with a focus on Asian-Pacific epidemics….

Policy Responses to Rapid Population Aging. In 2013, the East-West Center initiated a joint project with the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs (KIHASA) to compare and evaluate policy responses to population aging in several countries….

Changing Families in Asia and the United States. This project examines new patterns of family formation, roles of family members, and the relationship between work and family life….

Over the years, scholars at the East-West Center have also conducted research on:

Asia's Transition from High to Low Fertility. In recent years, fertility research at the East-West Center focused on the causes and consequences of very low fertility in many Asian countries….

Population and Health in China. Researchers at the East-West Center have worked closely with national partners in China to study the causes, consequences, and policy implications of emerging population and health issues….

In conjunction with these areas of research, East-West Center specialists in population and health have coordinated several training and outreach activities. These include:

Summer Seminar on Population. The Summer Seminar on Population, held annually from 1970 to 2011, served as a forum for individuals and institutions concerned with population-related problems to identify emerging research and policy issues, share and learn new research methods and program approaches, facilitate communication between researchers and practitioners, and forge links between key institutions throughout the United States, Asia, the Pacific, and other regions of the world….

Communicating with Policymakers about Population and Health.As part of the Summer Seminar on Population, the East-West Center conducted this workshop every year from 1996 to 2011. A special website makes available all the materials used in the workshop plus a great deal more….

Association of National Census and Statistics Directors of America, Asia and the Pacific (ANCSCAAP). The mission of the Association is to foster communication and cooperation in the collection and analysis of comprehensive statistical information on human populations and their behavior….

Collaboration with the University of Hawaii's Global Health and Population Studies Program. The East-West Center co-sponsors a post-graduate Population Studies Certificate offered by the University of Hawaii's Global Health and Population Studies Program. In addition, East-West Center researchers, in their capacity as Affiliate Graduate Faculty at the University of Hawaii, teach courses and supervise graduate students in the University's Population Studies Program….

Publications and Software

Selected books, reports, and other documents are listed in the Publications section of the East-West Center website, with an emphasis on recent titles. In addition, over the years, researchers at the Center have produced a great deal of work for outside publishers. Listed here are East-West Center publications plus journal articles, books, book chapters, and reports written by East-West Center scholars and published by organizations around the world. Publications are listed separately on environmental issues and on population and health. In addition, three sets of programs for demographic analysis are available free of charge.

Research Staff

Tim Brown, Senior Fellow, East-West Center
Miguel Castrence, Spatial Information Technology Specialist, East-West Center
Minja Kim Choe, Adjunct Senior Fellow, East-West Center
Melissa L. Finucane, Senior Fellow, East-West Center
Jefferson M. Fox, Senior Fellow, East-West Center
Victoria Keener, Fellow, East-West Center
Sang Hyop Lee, Adjunct Fellow, East-West Center; Associate Professor of Economics, University of Hawaii
Andrew Mason, Senior Fellow, East-West Center; Professor of Economics, University of Hawaii
Ronald Rindfuss, Senior Fellow, East-West Center; Research Professor of Sociology and Carolina Population Center Fellow, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Sumeet Saksena, Fellow, East-West Center
Sidney B. Westley, Communications Specialist, East-West Center

Adjunct and Emeritus Research Staff

Jiajian Chen, Adjunct Senior Fellow, East-West Center
Roland Fuchs, Adjunct Senior Fellow, East-West Center
Kem Lowry, Adjunct Senior Fellow, East-West Center
John Marra, Adjunct Senior Fellow, East-West Center; Director, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Services for the Pacific Region
Gerald Marten, Adjunct Senior Fellow, East-West Center
Mark Poffenberger, Adjunct Senior Fellow, East-West Center
Terry Rambo, Adjunct Senior Fellow, East-West Center
Robert D. Retherford, Emeritus Senior Fellow, East-West Center
Eileen Shea, Adjunct Senior Fellow, East-West Center; Director, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Integrated Data and Environmental Applications (IDEA) Center
Toufiq Siddiqi, Adjunct Senior Fellow, East-West Center
James Spencer, Adjunct Fellow, East-West Center; Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Hawaii at Manoa
William Sweet, Adjunct Fellow, East-West Center and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Integrated Data and Environmental Applications (IDEA) Center
Pushpathavi Thambipillai, Adjunct Fellow, East-West Center