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Brienna Perelli-Harris

Professor of Demography, University of Southampton

Professor Perelli-Harris joined the University of Southampton in 2011. Previously she was a Research Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany and a post-doc at the University of Wisconsin, USA. She completed her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Michigan in 2006.

Dr. Perelli-Harris is interested in studying changes in the family in comparative perspective. Working with researchers across Europe, the USA and Australia, she uses demographic techniques, advanced quantitative methods, in-depth qualitative approaches, and policy analysis to explore the underlying reasons for the development of new family formation behaviours.

Dr. Perelli-Harris held a European Research Council starting grant (2011-16) to study the increase in childbearing within cohabitation in industrialised countries. As part of the grant, she led a project that conducted focus group research in 9 countries and resulted in a Special Collection in Demographic Research called “Focus on Partnerships: Discourses on cohabitation and marriage throughout Europe and Australia.” Her research also examined the consequences of cohabitation, marriage, and childbearing. Working with collaborators from Australia, the U.S., Norway, and Germany, she analysed a range of outcomes across the lifecourse, including mental well-being, health, life satisfaction, and wages. Currently she holds an ESRC-funded Secondary Data Initiative grant to study relationship quality and family transitions in the UK and other European countries.

She is Associate Editor for the European Journal of Population, a member of the scientific board of the UK Household Longitudinal Survey, a member of the Generations and Gender Programme Council of Partners, and Chair of the IUSSP Scientific Panel on New and Emerging Family Forms around the Globe. In 2016, the European Association for Population Studies awarded her the Dirk van de Kaa Award for Social Demography.


  • –present
    Professor of Demography, University of Southampton


  • 2006 
    University of Michigan, PhD in Sociology