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José Miguel Guzmán – 2017 Laureate 


José Miguel Guzmán was elected by the IUSSP Council to be the 2017 IUSSP Laureate in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the understanding of population issues and their relevance for national policies and programmes. José Miguel Guzmán’s contribution to demographic studies and to the improvement of public policy in the social domain spans several decades and covers a variety of issues, borne out in a publication list of more than 20 books and 50 articles. José Miguel Guzmán is renowned in particular for his key contributions to demographic research in the area of the demographic transition in Latin America and for the great influence he exercised at the global level in areas such as applied research on policies regarding ageing as well as population and climate change linkages. José Miguel also trained more than 400 demographers from Latin America and the Caribbean, and from Africa in demography, specifically in fertility.


For more details on José Miguel Guzmán's accomplishments and contributions to the population field please read the letter of nomination:


Nomination letter for José Miguel Guzmán:


Mr. José Miguel Guzmán, Ph.D. was the first doctoral student in the Dominican Republic to receive a Ph.D in Demography and has worked at the highest level of UNFPA, as Chief of the Population and Development Branch (2007-2013), before joining ICF as Regional Coordinator of Demographic and Health Surveys. He has not only made key contributions to demographic research in the area of the demographic transition in Latin America, but also exercised great influence at the global level in areas such as applied research on policies regarding ageing as well as population and climate change linkages.


Even before graduating in Statistics from the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 1977, José Miguel Guzmán had worked on the World Fertility Survey (WFS) in the Dominican Republic. At that time he was investigating the problems associated with the quality of data collection through surveys, particularly around birth histories, and its impact on fertility and mortality estimation. He later did further work on this topic at WFS headquarters together with many of the demographers that were part of this global project.


After spending some years at the Latin American and Caribbean Demographic Center (CELADE) of ECLAC, where he received much of his basic demographic training, José Miguel Guzmán graduated in Demography from the University of Montreal in 1982. By that time he was responsible for the first national employment surveys in his country. This work with the Ministry of Planning generated his interest in policies and the relevance of linking results to actions, which is something that he has kept as his main goal in his work all along his career.


Soon after, he was invited to work as demographer for the Latin American Demographic Center (CELADE) in Santiago, Chile. His primary research at CELADE focused on the fertility transition in Latin America and recognised that the desire for smaller families had already set in in most countries of the region. José Miguel Guzmán took the lead in the study of the fertility transition in Latin America. 


As a Member of the IUSSP Committee on Fertility, he co-organized a seminar on the Fertility Transition in Latin America, which contributed to a new regional vision on the potential further decline and the generalization in the region of a pattern that promoted lower fertility. This seminar gave birth to a book with the same name published by IUSSP with Oxford University Press. Through his visionary work, he promoted the incorporation of a broader and more effective interpretation of the fertility transition, one that includes diffusion models. The discussions on the causes and consequences of fertility transition in Latin America were of utmost importance because, at that time in the early 1990s, there was reluctance in professional circles on the efficacy of family, which had repercussions for the way countries defined and implemented their reproductive health programmes. The book on The Fertility Transition in Latin America has been widely studied in Latin America as well as in other parts of the world. It is considered an essential reference for those studying this phenomenon in the region. 


Soon after he started working at CELADE he became not only an expert in Latin-American demography but also a lead person in using his knowledge and experience to train the new generation of demographers that emerged with the demographic transition in Latin America. José Miguel Guzmán trained more than 400 demographers from Latin America and the Caribbean, and some from Africa (Angola, Mozambique and Cabo Verde) in demography, specifically in fertility. In all courses, he tried to connect the cross-sectional approach with the longitudinal approach, which was had not received much attention in the region.


But teaching was only part of this contribution during the years as an expert demographer in CELADE. He further contributed to the extensive use of indirect techniques to measure the level and social and economic differences that affect the risk of dying during infancy. He then used this knowledge to present the results to ministers, responsible of health and family planning programmes. He visited Honduras and Bolivia extensively, to convince ministers and programme administrators of the need to consider these results in their health policies and programmes.


José Miguel Guzmán’s contribution to demographic studies and to the improvement of public policy in the social domain spans several decades and a variety of issues, borne out in a publication list covering more than 20 books and 50 articles. His accomplishments have been well acknowledged internationally and were recently given explicit recognition by the Université de Montréal. In 2010 he was honored with a Diplôme d’Honneur en Démographie, confirming José Miguel Guzmán’s has “had a remarkable influence on research, cooperation, training, knowledge dissemination and public policy, especially in countries of America Latin America and the Caribbean.” 


In particular, he has shown outstanding vision in the identification of emerging issues and the promotion of groundbreaking research. In 2007 he started working as Chief of the Population and Development Branch at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). At UNFPA, José Miguel Guzmán’s keen perception of emergent social and environmental questions led him to sponsor and carry out policy-oriented and cutting-edge research on topics that were of critical importance in shaping tomorrow’s world. In this context, he co-authored a visionary book that allowed UNFPA to revise its understanding and policy in relation to the modern quandry of adolescent pregnancy in Latin America. 


José Miguel Guzmán has spearheaded an institutional commitment to pioneering research on climate change, urbanization and ageing. He has established a new branch of scientific thoughts that exploited the untapped potential of demographic sciences to mitigation and adaptation efforts in relation to climate change. He has drawn attention to the fact that incorporating population dynamics into research and policy surrounding climate change is critical to understanding and mitigating climate change, and that the lack of attention to population dynamics as a key factor has hampered efforts to combat the potential devastating effects of climate change.  


Population dynamics impact climate change, and vice versa, and yet several aspects of this critical field had not been fully considered at UNFPA or within the United Nations until José Miguel Guzmán coordinated a series of research projects (featuring contributions from the world’s most prominent demographers and climate change scientists), culminating in the publication of two internationally renowned publications: Population Dynamics and Climate Change, and The Demography of Adaptation to Climate Change. The first of these produced several critical breakthroughs on the importance of population size and growth for greenhouse gas emissions, and specifically on how the process of urbanization creates opportunities for climate change mitigation and adaptation. The latter, more recently published book, addressed a major gap in adaptation efforts to date. It pointed out the vital role that an understanding of population dynamics and an extensive use of demographic data have in developing pre-emptive and effective adaptation policies and practices, and how population data can greatly improve the identification and targeting of climate vulnerability. These efforts have generated scientific comprehension that reacting to climate events after the fact is no longer sufficient and acceptable. 


José Miguel Guzmán has played a similarly pioneering role with respect to the worldwide phenomenon of population ageing. Today, many governments are highly concerned with the issue of ageing populations. Yet, because this is a relatively new phenomenon, policies and solutions are not yet well established. José Miguel Guzmán has proven himself an innovator in this field. He has demonstrated true global leadership in addressing this gap by generating and disseminating new ideas on how the issue of demographic ageing must be considered globally and nationally, both as a challenge and an opportunity. He is widely recognized among those active researchers around ageing policies, particular in Latin America. 


He is the main responsible of defining the concept of economic security, including not only the access to resources but also the independence of the use of the resources. By colleagues and policy makers, he is considered as one of the area’s major innovators, due to a career full of advances and most recently due to his coordination of the landmark publication, Ageing in the Twenty-First Century: a Celebration and a Challenge, which has been widely disseminated and extensively cited in media and policy circles alike. 


This publication is the culmination of several years of research, policy development on the causes and impacts of population ageing. It presents the best policy interventions to deal with this global phenomenon. These policies, which promote a more balanced approach to demographic ageing, contribute to the generation of a new paradigm that places the challenges of ageing in the context of the specificities of developing countries that cannot replicate the experience of developed countries (low institutional development, limited resources, etc.). 


At the international level, José Miguel Guzmán’s work in the area of census analysis has reenergized the work of the Commission of Statistics of the America, particularly in the area of census analysis. As a result of his intellectual leadership in this area, Statistical Offices of the Americas has increased their investments in census analysis and have renewed their engagement in increasing the links of census analysis with national planning in the area of education, health and social protection. Countries in the region are now producing better analysis of census data with visible benefits for social policies and programs


Additionally, José Miguel Guzmán was recognized for the significant roles he has played in major professional demographic associations, including the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, Population Association of America, Population Association of Latin America, the Mexican Society of Demography and the Brazilian Association for Population Studies, as well as his work on the editorial committees of scientific journals. 


During 2014, José Miguel has provided an outstanding contribution to the generation of data though the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) Programme, the most important international effort in data collection in the world. As Regional Coordinator of Demographic and Health Surveys at ICF, he is the main responsible for providing coordination and support to surveys both in Latin America and Francophone Africa, one exciting area for demographic research. Many countries from these regions are now benefiting from his experience in developing new sources of information about relevant health issues, such as nutrition, immunization, malaria, gender violence, female genital mutilation, maternal and child health, HIV and others. José Miguel Guzmán has been responsible for multi-donor negotiations in the design and financing of complex health and demographic surveys, including biomarkers (malaria, anemia, HIV, others) in at least three countries (Senegal, Guinea and Burkina Faso). These surveys are increasingly becoming the most important data source for national programmes and policies in developing countries.


His unique contribution reaffirms our conviction of the extraordinary contributions that José Miguel Guzmán has made to the understanding of population issues and their relevance for national policies and programmes.

Download José Miguel Guzmán's CV.