LONGPOP | GIS & Demography: environmental & socioeconomic analyses in Italy
The demographic phenomena are conditioned by the social & biological characteristics of the populations & also by the environmental & ecological factors.
Horizon 2020, Environment, Demography, Population, Epidemiology, Statistics,Geography, GIS, Big Data, Health
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Vanessa Santos Sánchez – ESR5: A GIS approach to the analysis of demography and environmental and socioeconomic factors in Italy.


Department of Economics and Business (DISEA), University of Sassari


Lucia Pozzi (Disea) lpozzi@uniss.it


The demographic phenomena are conditioned not only by the social and biological characteristics of the populations, but also by the environmental and ecological factors. From this point of view, the spatial distribution of demographic phenomena has grown in importance with the increasing availability of geographic information associated with demographic data. The studies have focused on three aspects in particular: 1) the analysis of environmental data within health and mortality studies; 2) the marriage-related movements; and 3) migrations and mobility. Large numbers of contemporary studies deal with these aspects using longitudinal data; however, only a limited number of studies have taken a historical longitudinal perspective. These few studies, despite not covering a long period, have led to results of some importance.

The purpose of this research project is to collect high-quality geographical data to be used in conjunction with GIS to map all the attributes directly or indirectly associated with individuals cited in demographic databases, such as name, surname, age and occupation. The starting point is a rich longitudinal database covering specific communities throughout the Italian territory: Treppo Carnico and Resia in Friuli, Casalguidi in Tuscany and Alghero in Sardinia. They already form part of or will be included in the Italian Historical Population Database, and they have been created from an ongoing cooperation with various historical Archives, led by the Udine State Archive (http://www.friulinprin.beniculturali.it/inglese/index.html).

The project will develop a set of concepts and techniques for managing longitudinal population data, and then perform longitudinal analysis in a long-term perspective. The project intends to analyze, for example, the spread of diseases or infant and child mortality rates in single communities, taking into account the distance between the houses or the kinship relationships and population closeness. The project intends to identify possible similarities or differences between different communities by studying the distribution of mortality in relation to both environmental and socioeconomic factors, like the availability of water sources and their distance from the house. The second aspect concerns the analysis of marriages. The goal is to spatially evaluate propensity for marriage between people from different backgrounds in terms of their demographic (age, marital status), social and economic characteristics. The third aspect concerns the study of migration. This is the most complex aspect to be studied. Many studies shed light on the relationship between migratory distance and intensity of migratory flows. Reflecting on the fact that migration also means creating distance between the migrant and his/her original family and social context, it is possible to assert that new relationships and their dynamics are influenced in varying degrees by the distance involved.


The scientific goal of this project is to increase and substantially improve: a) the ability to set up and use individual data; b) the capacity to analyse demographic behaviours in a relational perspective; c) the historical-demographic knowledge relative to certain typical features of the Italian context.

The applicant is expected to take active part in developing the Project, participate to some empirical research and particularly to deal with the problems related to the influence of environmental and spatial context; to manage geospatial analysis/GIS based statistical techniques applied to socio-demographic phenomena; to produce reports of the Project and contribute to scientific publications in collaboration with the research team.


5.1. GIS data model with historical environmental, socioeconomic and demographic information.
5.2. GIS layer on Italian mortality estimates.
5.3. GIS layer on Italian marriage patterns.
5.4. GIS layer on Italian migration patterns.

For 5.2 – 5.4, see GIS layers on Italian Demography.



Santos-Sanchez, V., Córdoba-Doña, J. A., García-Pérez, J., Escolar-Pujolar, A., Pozzi, L., & Ramis, R. (2020). Industrial pollution and mortality from digestive cancers at the small area level in a Spanish industrialized province. Geospatial Health, 15(1).

Santos-Sánchez V, Córdoba-Doña JA, Viciana F, Escolar-Pujolar A, Pozzi L, Ramis R (2020). Geographical variations in cancer mortality and social inequalities in southern Spain (Andalusia). 2002-2013. PLoS ONE 15(5): e0233397

Santos Sánchez, V., Córdoba-Doña, J.A., García-Pérez, J., Escolar-Pujolar, A., Pozzi, L. and Ramis, R. (2020). Cancer Mortality and Deprivation in the Proximity of Polluting Industrial Facilities in an Industrial Region of Spain. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(6), 1860.

Santos Sánchez, V., Ruiu, G., Breschi, M. and Pozzi, L. (2018). Mortality trends in Sardinia 1992-2015: an ecological study.  Book of short Papers SIS 2018, ISBN-9788891910233. Pearson, 2018, pages 1163-1168



Vanessa Santos et al. Spatial Distribution of Cancer Mortality in Andalusia, Spain (2002-2013). European Population Conference 2018. 

Vanessa Santos et al. Mortality trends in Sardinia 1992-2015: an ecological study. 49th Scientific meeting of the Italian Statistical Society 2018.

Córdoba Doña, J.A., Santos Sánchez, V. and Escolar Pujolar, A. Determinantes sociodemográficos de los suicidios en Andalucía en un contexto de inestabilidad socioeconómica. XXXVI Reunión Científica de la Sociedad Española de Epidemiología y XIII Congresso da Associação Portuguesa de Epidemiologia.

Escolar Pujolar, A.,  Córdoba Doña, J.A. and Santos Sánchez, V.  La mortalidad va por barrios: más allá de la sección censal. El caso de la ciudad de Sevilla. XXXVI Reunión Científica de la Sociedad Española de Epidemiología y XIII Congresso da Associação Portuguesa de Epidemiologia.


Vanessa holds a degree in Mathematics from the University of Cadiz and a Master’s degree in Advanced Mathematics, specialization in Statistics and Operation Research from the Spanish Open University (UNED).
From 2008 to 2010, Vanessa worked as researcher in the Territorial Delegation of Equality, Health and Social Policies from Cadiz. Furthermore, she also worked from 2011 to 2016 as Head of Statistics and Methodology Consultant at the Foundation for Biomedical Research of Cadiz.
Her professional and research career has been developed in the fields of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), spatial epidemiology, analysis of social determinants in health and statistical modelling.
Vanessa has collaborated as researcher in diverse research projects. She has published several articles and book chapters, some of them in high impact factor journals, as well as conference papers, all related to health topics.
Her current research interests include spatio-temporal modelling and the study of different approaches and methods to evaluate the impact of environmental risk factors.

Contact: vmsantossanche@uniss.it

Link to her ResearchGate profile here.