The Demography, Longevity and Healthy Ageing group (DELAH), led by Rosa Gómez Redondo at the UNED, currently has 10 active members who share a common interest in the issues surrounding health, mortality and longevity, ageing and health. While our central objectives include both teaching and course development, only our research activities will be described here. Embracing both demographic and sociological studies, our group has always had a strong interdisciplinary focus, incorporating researchers from both of these key fields as well as from a number of other disciplines, most notably statistics, medicine, history, anthropology, geography and economics.

The research activity of our team began over 20 years ago with Rosa Gómez Redondo’s work on the mortality of the Spanish population in the 20th century. This focus later expanded to include the study of health throughout the human life cycle, population ageing, and longevity, as well as the emergence of human survival into extreme old age. In recent years, we have incorporated gender as a comprehensive category in all of our studies, convinced of its critical importance to demographic analysis its specific relevance to the study of ageing and mortality. Our work within these now interrelated fields of research has developed within the context of our successive funded research projects, of which our two most recent initiatives, “Longevity Disability and Dependency: Health and Quality of Life in Advanced Old Age in Spain” (SEJ2006-10972) and “The Transformation of Aging and Old Age in Spain: From 50 to 100 and Beyond” (CSO2010-18925) deserve special mention here.

To date, our efforts have centred on the period between the late 1880s and the present, a critical time in Spain when the major demographic, epidemiological and health transitions were accompanied by unprecedented social transformation. Within this broad time frame, we have sought to keep the evolving socio-demographic theoretical context in the foreground of our work, which has focused mainly (although not exclusively) on the quantitative analysis and study of demographically advanced countries. Our research has tended to stress the comparative analysis of the latter, with a special focus on Spain and the territorial differences to be found within the country.

Participation in international research networks is an essential part of comparative international analysis. Our team belongs to various such networks, of which the Human Mortality Database (HMDB – Berkeley and Paris), the Reseau d’Esperance de Vie en Santé (REVES – Montpellier) and the International Database on Longevity (IDL –Rostock, Paris) are particularly relevant to our research. We also hosted and locally coordinated the Eighth Supercentenarians Workshop, held in Madrid on 27-28 January 2011, in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research.

Finally, in addition to attending forums on health research, Dr Gómez Redondo participates in international forums on the design of European plans on healthy ageing and in national initiatives, including several methodological commissions sponsored by the National Statistics Institute (INE). With respect to gender, our team also forms part of and coordinates the “Demography and Gender” research area for the GEPS group. Our group has also served on expert panels for Women’s Watch during the designing of the Sexual Health Survey, a project sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Health.