Born in Denmark, he studied demography, economics and sociology at Copenhagen University and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he received his PhD.
His scientific work centres on life course dynamics, social stratification and comparative social policy. Before coming to Pompeu Fabra, he taught at Harvard University, the University of Trento and the European University in Italy. His publications include The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism for which he was awarded the APSA'sAaron Wildavsky Enduring Contribution Award in 2005; The Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies(translated into Italian and Japanese); and, most recently, Trois Lecons sur L'Etat Providence (Paris, Le Seuil). His later book is Families in the 21st Century (2016) (academic publications 1977 - 2017).
He is a member of the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Doctor Honoris Causa at Roskilde University. He is member of the scientific board of numerous scientific institutions including the Danish National Institute for Social Research, the CEACS of the Juan March Institute, IMDEA, and the Danish Strategic Research Council.
He has been actively engaged in applied policy relevant work for international organizations, including the United Nations, the OECD, ISSA, and the European Union. He participated in the preparation for the EU's Lisbon Summit in 2000 and co-authored a report on welfare state reform for the Belgian presidency of the EU in 2002. He has also been member of EU President Baroso's social policy advisory group.
He has directed a five-year ERC financed project on Family Polarization and Demographic Change.
Gosta Esping-Andersen is father of two boys, David and Jacob. His primary non-professional interest is music.