Professor Sarah Harper | University of Oxford

Professor Sarah Harper

Director, Oxford Institute of Population Ageing; Professor of Gerontology; Fellow of Nuffield College


Professor Harper's current research addresses the global and regional impact of falling fertility and increasing longevity, with a particular interest in Asia and Africa. She has also studied women’s education and empowerment in sub-Saharan Africa, and the impact of this on falling fertility rates.  

She currently serves on the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology, advising the Prime Minister on the scientific evidence for strategic policies and frameworks. She also chairs both the UK government's Foresight Review on Ageing Societies and the European Ageing Index Panel for the UNECE Population Unit, and is a Governor of the Pensions Policy Institute. She was chair of HSBC’s Global Ageing Forum and a trustee of the Third Age Employment Network.  She has advised the Office of the Prime Minister, the Department for Work and Pensions, and the Department of Children, Schools and Families. She also serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of Natural England and the Advisory Board, English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).  Internationally, she represents the UK on a number of bodies including the Council of Advisors of Population Europe and on the Advisory Board of the World Demographic Association. She has also advised the Malaysian government, the Singapore government, the Swedish Academy, and the MacArthur Foundation, among others.

She was formerly a news and current affairs reporter and producer, working in both TV and radio for BBC News and for the BBC’s Newsnight. 


  • Demographic and population change
  • Ageing and old people
  • Ageism
  • Late life work, retirement and pensions
  • Families and family change - including grandparents
  • Health care and long-term care
  • Social policy

Media experience

Professor Harper has extensive experience of working both in and with the media across print and broadcast, including live broadcast interviews.