In 2016 I began a Professorship in the Department of Family Studies and Gerontology and a Canada Research Chair (CRC Tier I) in Global Aging and Community at MSVU.

My academic career began in Canada, with degrees at University of Winnipeg and University of Manitoba and several years working in aging research centers at two Canadian universities (University of Manitoba and University of Victoria). I moved from Canada to the United States in 1994 to pursue graduate study, and in 1998 I completed a PhD in Sociology from University of Michigan with specialization in Demography of Aging. Since that time I have held academic and research positions at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, the Population Council in New York, the University of Utah and the University of California San Francisco. The privilege of the CRC provided me a much welcomed opportunity to return to Canada after twenty-two years abroad and contribute more directly to this country’s scholarly community.
Using quantitative data, principally from large surveys and government sources, my research very broadly focuses on global issues related to the well-being of older persons, studied from a demographic perspective. I am interested in demographic phenomenon related to population aging as well as the intersection of rapid social/demographic change and healthy/successful aging. Much of my work has taken place in East and Southeast Asia where population aging and socioeconomic change has been swift and where older adults face many obstacles related to the changing nature of their social environment. I have also worked in sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe and the United States. My scholarly work has been published in journals across a number of disciplines, such as gerontology, sociology, demography, medicine and epidemiology.

I enjoy working internationally in multidisciplinary environments and in collaborative teams. Over the course of my career, I have been involved in collaborations with scholars and other researchers at universities, government and non-government organizations around the world including UNFPA, Cambodia’s Ministry of Planning, Capital Medical University in Beijing, the National Statistical Office of Thailand, Chulalongkorn University Bangkok, the Taiwan Bureau of Health Promotion, and many others. I also am involved in capacity building efforts and have organized and led seminars at universities, government agencies and research organizations around the world.

Over the course of my career, at a number of universities, I have taught a variety of courses in demography, aging, health policy, research methods and statistics. In 2016 I began teaching in the Department of Family Studies and Gerontology at MSVU.

Selected Publications

Zimmer, Z., Jagger, C., Chiu, C., Ofstedal, M., Rojo, F., & Saito, Y. (2016). Spirituality, religiosity, aging and health in global perspective: A review. Social Science and Medicine – Population Health, 2, 373-381. doi: 10.1016/j.ssmph.2016.04.009

Zimmer, Z., & Rubin, S. (2016). Life expectancy with and without pain in the U.S. elderly Population. Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, doi: 10.1093/Gerona/glw028

Zimmer, Z., Hanson, H., & Smith, K. (2016). Childhood socioeconomic status, adult socioeconomic status, and old-age health trajectories: Connecting early, middle, and late life. Demographic Research, 34(10), 285-320. (Winner of Editor’s Choice Award for Volume 34). Available online at Volumes/Vol34/10/. DOI: 10:4054/DemRes.2016.34.10

Zimmer, Z., Hidajat, M., & Saito, Y. (2015). Changes in total and disability-free life expectancy among older adults in China: Do they portend a compression of morbidity? International Journal of Population Studies, 1(1), 4-18.

Zimmer, Z., Rada, C., & Stoica, C. (2014). Migration, location and provision of support to older parents: The case of Romania. International Journal of Population Ageing, 7 (3), 161-184. doi: 10.1007/s12062-014-9101-z

Zimmer, Z., Fang, X., & Tang, Z. (2014). Fifteen year disability trends among older persons in the Beijing municipality of China. Journal of Aging and Health, 26 (2), 207-230

Zimmer, Z., & Das, S. (2014). The poorest of the poor: Composition and wealth of older person households in sub-Saharan Africa. Research on Aging, 36 (3), 271-296. doi: 10.1177/016402751348589

Zimmer, Z., Martin, L., Jones B., & Nagin D. (2014). Examining late-life functional limitation trajectories and their associations with underlying onset, recovery, and mortality. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 69 (2), 275-286. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbt099

Zimmer, Z., & the CRUMP Research Team. (2012). Migration in Cambodia: Report of the Cambodian Rural Urban Migration Project (CRUMP). Phnom Penh, Cambodia: Ministry of Planning, Government of Cambodia. Download available at:

Zimmer, Z., & Korinek, K. (2010). Shifting coresidence near the end of life: Comparing decedents and survivors of a follow-up study in China. Demography, 47 (3), 537-554

Zimmer, Z. (2009). Household composition among elders in Sub-Saharan Africa in the context of HIV/AIDS. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 71 (4), 1086-1099

Zimmer, Z. (2008). Poverty, wealth inequality and health among older adults in rural Cambodia. Social Science and Medicine, 66 (1), 57-71

Zimmer, Z., Kaneda T., & Spess, L. (2007). An examination of urban versus rural mortality in China using community and individual level data. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 62 (5), 349-357

Zimmer, Z., Knodel, J., Kim, K., & Puch, S. (2006). The impact of past conflicts and social disruption in Cambodia on the current generation of older adults. Population and Development Review, 32 (2), 333-360. (Revised version published in Susan McDaniel (ed.). 2008. Ageing. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publications)

Zimmer, Z., & House, J. (2003). Education, income and functional limitation transitions among American adults: Contrasting onset and progression. International Journal of Epidemiology, 32 (6), 1089-1097

Zimmer, Z., & Kwong, J. (2003). Family size and support of older adults in urban and rural China: Current effects and future implications. Demography, 40 (1), 23-44