Demography and the Data Revolution
In 2014, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation approached the IUSSP with a project to bring IUSSP members into ongoing discussions about the need for a data revolution to accompany the post-2015 development agenda and monitor progress towards a new set of goals and indicators, the Sustainable Development Goals, which will replace the MDGs in 2015. In collaboration with the Population Association of America (PAA) and with the assistance of the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), the IUSSP organized or participated in a number of activities to enable demographers to contribute their skills to the Data Revolution.
The list of activities is provided here in reverse chronological order.
For those of you interested in learning more about the Data Revolution, a number of background documents are provided below and links to websites related to the Data Revolution are provided in the right-hand column.
Report: Demography and the data revolution: What have we learned? What role could IUSSP play? Review by Louise Shaxson and Emma Samman, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), December 2020
Interview: Interrogating the power relationships that shape data for sustainable development in ODI Insight. Click here for French and Spanish versions.
Meeting: Expert Group Meeting on Population Data for the 21st century: Advances in data collection methodologies, New York, United States, 4-6 December 2019 [Organized by the IUSSP Data Revolution Committee]
Workshop: New computational methods and data sources for migration research in the digital era at the 11th Social Informatics Conference (SocInfo 2019) in Doha, Qatar, on 18 November 2019 [Organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Digital Demography]
Session: Session on Emerging issues in CRVS and ID at the African Population Conference in Entebbe, Uganda, 18-22 November 2019 [Organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Population Perspectives and Demographic Methods to Strengthen Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems]
Workshop: Data Visualization in R preconference workshop at the Gender and Generations Project (GGP) User Conference, Paris, France, 22-23 October 2019 [Organized by the IUSSP Data Revolution Committee]
Conference: 2019 CODATA Conference. Towards Next Generation Data-Driven Science: Policies, Practices and Platforms. Beijing, 19-20 September 2019
Conference: Demographic Challenges in Africa: The Contributions of Census and Civil Registration Data, Paris, France, 16-18 October 2019
[Population Perspectives and Demographic Methods to Strengthen Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Systems]
Workshop: Migration Data and Models for a Better World: Perspectives from social scientists, data scientists and international organizations, New York, United States, 9 August 2019
Training workshop: Summer Institute in Computational Social Science, Cape Town, South Africa, 17-28 June 2019
[IUSSP Data Revolution Committee]
Workshop: Demographic Research with Web and Social Media Data, at the 13th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM-2019), Munich, Germany 11 June, 2019
Workshop: Digital Demography in the Era of Big Data, Seville, Spain, 6-7 June 2019
Workshop: Mortality Monitoring in the Era of the SDGs, Rostock, Germany, 11-13 December 2018
[IUSSP Data for Development Committee]
Workshop: Uncertainty and Complexity of Migration, London, United Kingdom, 20-21 November 2018
[Microsimulation and Agent-based Modeling in Demography]
Session: Challenges for monitoring the SDGs: a regional dialogue on demographic data and indicators, at the International Congress of the Latin American Population Association (ALAP), Puebla, Mexico, 26 October 2018
Session: Innovations in Longitudinal and Cross-national Surveys, at the 4th APA Conference, Shanghai, China, 13 July 2018
Training workshop: Bayesian Small Area Estimation using Complex Survey Data: Methods and Applications, Shanghai, China, 10-11 July 2018
[IUSSP Data Revolution Committee]
Workshop: Making Sense of Online Data for Population Research, at the 2018 International Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM), Stanford, United States, 25 June 2018
[Big Data and Population Processes]
Training workshop: Summer Institute in Computational Social Science, Cape Town, South Africa, 18-29 June 2018
[IUSSP Data Revolution Committee]
Workshop: Demographic Research in the Digital Age, Denver, United States, 25 April 2018
[Big Data and Population Processes]
Meeting: Data for Development Festival and UN-SDSN TReNDS meeting. Bristol, UK – March 21-25 2018
Training workshop: Bayesian Small Area Estimation using Complex Survey Data: Methods and Applications, Denver, United States, 24-25 April 2018
[IUSSP Data Revolution Committee]
Training workshop on Social Media, Big Data and Digital Demography, Cape Town, South Africa, 29 October 2017, 8:30-16:00
Training Course on Bayesian Population Projections: Theory and Practice, Cape Town, South Africa, 28-29 October 2017, 8:30-16:00
Seminar on: Geospatial Demography. Combining Satellite, Survey, Census and Cellphone Data to Provide Small-area Estimates, Cape Town, South Africa, 29 October 2017, 8:30-16:00
Workshop: Social Media and Demographic Research: Applications and Implications, at the 11th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM-17), Montreal, Canada, 15 May 2017. [Organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Big Data and Population Processes]
Training Workshop: Social Media and Demographic Methods, Chicago, United States, 26 April 2017. [Organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Big Data and Population Processes]
Session: Advancing the Data Revolution through Record Linkage and Data Integration, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 6 December 2016. The session was organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Innovations for Strengthening CRVS Systems at the 15th Conference of the International Association for Official Statistics (IAOS). The session was attended by 42 participants. The aim is to have the three papers presented published along with those of an earlier meeting in the Statistical Journal of the IAOS (SJIAOS) in June 2017.
Seminar: How Does Big Data Contribute to Improved Demographic Knowledge, Seattle, United States, 18 November 2016. The seminar was organized by the Center for Studies on Demography and Ecology of the University of Washington. The four seminar panelists included three people who are deeply involved in IUSSP Data Revolution activities: Tom LeGrand, Emilio Zagheni (co-chair of the Scientific Panel on Big Data and Population Processes) and Patrick Gerland (chair of the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Innovations for Strengthening Civil Registration and Vital Statistical Systems).
Research workshop: Web, Social Media, and Cellphone Data for Demographic Research, Bellevue (Seattle), United States, 14 November 2016. The workshop was organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Big Data and Population Processes at the 2016 Social Informatics conference (SocInfo 2016). It brought together members of both the industry and academia, from a number of disciplines, including demography, computer science, statistics, geography and sociology.
Round Table: Web and Social Media for Demographic Research, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, 19 October 2016. This round table was organized by the IUSSP at the ALAP/ABEP Congress to present the Data Revolution to a broader audience of Latin American population scholars.
Side Meeting and Round table: Civil Registration and Vital Statistical (CRVS) assessment, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, 18 and 20 October 2016. The IUSSP Scientific Panel on Innovations for Strengthening CRVS Systems organized a side meeting and a round table at the joint Congress of the Latin American Population Association (ALAP) and the Brazilian Association for Population Studies (ABEP) with the aim of showcasing recent methodological developments, and of fostering an exchange of regional experiences on how to best assess the completeness and accuracy of birth and death statistics, which are key indicators of CRVS system performance. These meetings brought together regional specialists and experts involved with the development and/or the application of direct methods, especially through the use of record linkage validation for assessing the completeness and accuracy of births and deaths records based on data from civil registration and other administrative and health sources, at national or local levels.
Training Workshop: Web and Social Media for Demographic Research, organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Big Data and Population Processes at the ALAP/ABEP Congress, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, 17 October 2016.
Training Workshop: Web, Social Media Data and Demographic Research, preconference workshop organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Big Data and Population Processes at the European Population Conference, Mainz, Germany, 31 August 2016.
Research Workshop: Social Media and Demographic Research: Applications and Implications, Cologne, Germany, 17 May 2016. This research workshop was organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Big Data and Population Processes at the 10th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media (ICWSM-16). The goal of the workshop was to bring together population researchers and data scientists to discuss the applications and implications of social media for demographic research, and foster communication between these two communities.
Expert meeting: The challenges of demographic data in Sub-Saharan Africa in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Paris, France, 31 May 2016. The meeting was organized by DEMOSTAF (Demography Statistics for Africa), the IUSSP & the French Institute for Demographic Studies (INED) and hosted at INED. The aim of this meeting was to give an overview of the different challenges related to demographic data in Sub-Saharan Africa in the framework of the SDGs and identify levers to overcome these constraints.
Expert Meeting: Towards the Next Generation of Record-linkage Studies to Advance Data Quality Assessment of Civil Registration Systems in Low- and Middle-income Countries, Washington DC, United States, 4-5 April 2016. The meeting was organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Innovations for Strengthening CRVS systems and hosted at World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C. It brought together a diverse group of 35 researchers and practitioners from a dozen countries and included both academic researchers and practitioners from national statistical offices and ministries of health, as well as officials from the United Nations agencies. The meeting's focus was on the use of direct demographic estimation methods that draw on record-linkage techniques, to assess the completeness and quality of CRVS systems.
Training Workshop: Social Media and Demographic Methods, organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Big Data and Population Processes at the Population Association of America Annual Meeting, Washington D.C., United States, 30 March 2016.
IUSSP meeting on Advancing the Data Revolution in Africa: A Dialogue between Demographers and Data Practitioners, Johannesburg 1 December 2015 – 11:00-12:30, organised as a side meeting at the 7th African Population Conference. The idea of a ‘data revolution’ in service of global development and the SDGs is gaining traction. The side meeting took the form of a panel discussion of demographers and data practitioners to explore practical aspects of an African Data Revolution, including capacity and training needs, and possible joint initiatives between demographers and data practitioners to advance the data revolution in Africa.
Expert Meeting: Lessons learned from local initiatives supporting sustainable civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems in Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa, 28 November 2015. The meeting was organized by the IUSSP Scientific Panel on Innovations for Strengthening CRVS Systems as a side meeting at the African Population Conference. Twenty-eight researchers from 18 countries attended the meeting, mainly demographers and representatives from Ministries of Home Affairs responsible for civil registration, regional statistical offices and international organizations involved with vital statistics. The authors reflected on their respective national experiences, and offered comprehensive and up-to-date assessments and evaluations of the progress made, data quality and coverage, and how ICT innovations can help to improve registration and the production of vital statistics.
United Nations Expert Group Meeting: Strengthening the demographic evidence base for the post-2015 development agenda, New York, United States, 5-6 October 2015. Several key demographers working on IUSSP data revolution activities participated and made presentations at this meeting (Tom Moultrie, Tom LeGrand, Sam Clark and Patrick Gerland).
3rd International Open Data Conference (IODC) took place on May 28-29, 2015, in Ottawa, Canada. Read the Final Conference Report “Enabling the Data Revolution: An International Open Data Roadmap”. This report draws upon the many discussions that took place in Ottawa at IODC, providing a summary of key topics and debates, and providing a shared vision of the road ahead for the IODC community. It is a curated record of discussions and debates, providing a snapshot of key issues and setting out a path forward based on the visions, ideas, and agreements explored at IODC.
Session on Demography, Demographers and the Data Revolution at the Annual Meeting of the PAA in San Diego on 1 May 2015.
The session was chaired by Sunita Kishor (DHS Program, ICF International) and speakers were: Tom A. Moultrie (University of Cape Town), Suzana M. Cavenaghi (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística - IBGE), Sabrina Juran (UNFPA) and Diego Iturralde (Statistics South Africa), who presented a paper by Pali Lehohla (Statistics South Africa).
Cartagena Data Festival, Cartagena, Colombia, 20-22 April 2015.
IUSSP co-organized a side meeting with United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN) on Harnessing the Data Revolution for Development: Issues in the design and monitoring of SDG Indicators that included 10 expert panelists (see report). IUSSP members also participated in sessions focusing on Big Data, innovations for Vital Registration Systems, and a plenary on Data sources post-2015: Complements & Substitutes.
As part of the IUSSP’s activities related to the post-2015 data revolution, Stephane Helleringer (Johns Hopkins University) reviewed the population-related indicators proposed by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN-SDSN) for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
This document, published in Population and Development Review is a revised version of the position paper submitted to the UN Independent Expert Advisory Group (see below).
This position paper, written by Tom A. Moultrie, (University of Cape Town), Thomas LeGrand (Université de Montréal), Rachel Quint (Hewlett Foundation), and Emma Samman (Overseas Development Institute), was submitted on 15 October, 2014 to the Independent Expert Advisory Group, which in turn presented its draft report to the Secretary-General in November. Members are invited to post their comments on this statement.
The meeting brought together 22 prominent population scientists to discuss how demographers, and demographic skills, could contribute to a data revolution. It was organized around plenary and brainstorming sessions designed to bring participants to a general consensus of what a data revolution might entail and how demographers could best contribute.
Resources and Further Reading
⇒ Africa Data Consensus. Final Version adopted by the High Level Conference on Data Revolution, 8th AU-ECA Conference of Ministers, 29 March 2015, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
⇒ Mexico Communiqué: The third draft of the Mexico Communiqué now has reference to the Data Revolution (paragraph 37):
⇒ “Now for the Long Term,” proposal for global coordination of statistics by the Oxford Martin School
⇒ Delivering on the Data Revolution in Sub-Saharan Africa, Report of the Data for African Development Working Group
Free online courses from SDG Academy
Spatial Data Integration for Demographic Research Online Training materials and tutorial (English / Spanish) by Landy Sanchez & Susana B. Adamo, in collaboration with Hector Leon.
Lectures on "Bayesian Subnational Estimation using Complex Survey Data" by Jon Wakefield and Richard Zehang Li. View videos and download R Files and presentations in Pdf.
17-18 October 2022, 12:30-21:00 UTC
The aim of the Conference is to engage with key stakeholders on gender and CRVS - including researchers, practitioners, decision makers and policy advocates - in order to ensure that everyone, in particular women and children, is registered, certified and counted by 2030.
From Crisis to Sustainable Development, the SDGs as Roadmap to 2030 and Beyond.
June 2, 2022
This report provides an overview of the activities of the Gender Data Network (GDN) since its inception in 2019.
May 12, 2022
Measuring the Impact of Data Institutions (Overseas Development Institute/ODI, focusing on illustrative case studies of five UK-based data institutions and on their roles in data stewardship).
First-ever country-level estimates of unintended pregnancy and abortion for 150 countries across the globe, 2015-2019 (by Guttmacher Institute and WHO)
Summer Institute for Computational Sciences. Covenant University, Nigeria. Deadline for Applications 30 March 2022
Data Values Project
Digital utopianism is dead. It’s time to talk about data and power. Jennifer Oldfield (Data Values Digest #24, 28 February 2022)
Data literacy as a revolutionary act. Claire Melamed (Data Values Digest #25, 14 March 2022)
Data disharmony: How can donors better act on their commitments? Discussion paper by Bernard Sabiti, Bill Anderson and Sam Wozniak (Development initiatives, 2 MARCH 2022)
The data side of leaving no one behind Discussion paper by Bill Anderson and Bernard Sabiti (Development initiatives, 29 SEPTEMBER 2021)
Demystifying Big Data for Demography and Global Health. POPULATION BULLETIN • VOL. 76, NO. 1 • 2022
World Bank World Development Report 2021: DATA FOR BETTER LIVES (publication in English, French and other languages)
Data values digest #14: Community engagement emerges as breakout theme of the World Data Forum
GPSDD Resources: Data for a Resilient Africa (focus on COVID-19; report available in English and in French)
GPSDD blog: COP26: How investing in climate data makes climate finance go further, by Claire Melamed, CEO (3 November 2021)
United Nations World Data Forum Blog Read several new essays posted in December 2021
Gender Data Network. The Gender Data Network (GDN) is a joint initiative between PARIS21, Data2X, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), and Open Data Watch.Founded in 2019, the GDN is designed to raise the standard of gender data production to better link with demand, improve the effectiveness of communication of and about gender data, and encourage gender data use across participating countries.
Data-Driven Decision Making (Grid 3)
World Development Report 2021. Data for Better Lives
Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data. Blog: The questions we all should be asking on intersectionality and data
Data Flow Assessment Framework | Paris 21
Interview: interrogating the power relationships that shape data for sustainable development
Reflects on the COVID-19 racial and ethnic data challenges and the importance of disaggregated data in ensuring a more equitable recovery.
Explores the growing trend of data colonialism and what steps are needed to address the prevailing imbalances in the data landscape.
Open Data Watch is pleased to launch the 2020/21 Open Data Inventory. The purpose of the Open Data Inventory (ODIN) is to provide an objective and reproducible measure of the availability of official statistics that meet the definition of open data. Now in its fifth year, ODIN measures changes over time as well as differences between countries, regions, and income groups. In the meantime you can explore the Executive Summary here, and the explanatory video here
COVID-19 Data: What are we counting? by Jose Miguel Guzman
SDGs today: data portal for real time Sustainable Development Goals (developed by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in partnership with Esri and the National Geographic Society).
New interactive UNFPA COVID-19 Population Vulnerability dashboard (Release version 2.0).
Covid-19 and Data Sharing (TRENDS)
Webinar : Joining Up Health Data: The DREAMS Partnership in Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe Friday 26th June 2020 4-5:30pm Nairobi time (9-10:30am ET)
How Facebook, Twitter and other data troves are revolutionizing social science (Nature. 17 June 2020)
Leaving No One Off The Map: A Guide For Gridded Population Data For Sustainable Development. A Report by the Thematic Research Network on Data and Statistics (TReNDS) of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in Support of the POPGRID Data Collaborative
The call for action invites concerned individuals (and organizations) to indicate their support for 7 key actions that could establish a more systematic, sustainable, and responsible data infrastructure for responding to pandemics and other emergent societal challenges.
Report on the 2019 CODATA Conference. Towards Next Generation Data-Driven Science: Policies, Practices and Platforms. Beijing, 19-20 September 2019
Securing High-quality Data on Populations
Launch of new report; Counting on the World To Act A Roadmap for Governments to Achieve Modern Data Systems for Sustainable Development
Demography in the Big Data Revolution: Changing the Culture to Forge New Frontiers. Article by Stephanie A. Bohon
The Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals 2018 is available online. It presents maps, charts, and stories related to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and discusses trends, comparisons, and measurement issues using accessible and shareable data visualizations. The data is drawn from the World Bank World Development indicators.
Blog post : “Official Statistics in a Post-Truth World”, written by Haishan Fu, Director of the Development Data Group, in the World Bank Development Economics Vice Presidency.
The 49th session of the UN Statistical Commission will be held from 6-9 March 2018 on the theme “Better Data, Better Lives”.
The UNDP has published a synthesis report titled Data ecosystems for sustainable development. An assessment of six pilot countries. This report assesses the readiness of the data systems in six African, Asian, Latin American and Eastern European countries for implementing and monitoring the SDGs. For the report summary and to download the full report, see here.
The first Africa Data Revolution Report focuses on mapping the data ecosystem in Africa
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network has just published a report entitled Counting on the World: Building Modern Data Systems for Sustainable Development. The report can be downloaded from their website http://unsdsn.org/. Among other topics, this publication considers population baseline data from censuses, surveys and civil and vital registration systems.
Tom Moultrie, IUSSP Council member and a leader of the IUSSP data revolution activities, has published an article in The Conversation on “In the quest to meet the SDGs, there’s a danger that some may be left behind”.
The Open Data Watch and Data2X have published a report on gender data for monitoring and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Ready to Measure, Phase II), and provides information on currently available data (Indicators available to monitor SDG gender targets). Click here to access them.
How open data can help the Global South, from disaster relief to voter turnout. The Conversation, 20 july 2017
Refining the Concept of Scientific Inference When Working with Big Data. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Proceedings of a Workshop. (2017)
⇒ Blog series on “What kind of Data Revolution do we need for post-2015?” with a broad variety of positions:
⇒ “Donors and a Data Revolution” by Amanda Glassman, CGD, focusing on funding for statistics in developing countries
⇒ “A Data Revolution” of the People, by the People, and for the People – Not Just for Advocates” by Mead Over, CGD.
Data Revolution Group
Online Lecture Series: BD2K Guide to the Fundamentals of Data Science
IUSSP Scientific Panel on Big Data and Population Processes, co-chaired by Francesco Billari (University of Oxford) and Emilio Zagheni (University of Washington)
IUSSP Scientific Panel on Innovations for Strengthening Vital Registration Systems, chaired by Patrick Gerland (United Nations Population Division).