IUSSP, Population Science and COVID-19


As we prepare this bulletin, the COVID-19 pandemic continues its spread. We hope you, your families, and colleagues are keeping well and doing your part to “flatten the curve”. While working virtually, the IUSSP has been active despite the cancellation and postponement of many scheduled events. Many of these were held virtually - including the IUSSP Council meeting, the 2020 Laureate Ceremony, and several panel activities that we report on in this bulletin. 


The COVID-19 pandemic has led to new activities such as an IUSSP Webinar series and a webpage posting the numerous contributions population scientists are making to understanding the SARS-CoV-2/Covid-19 pandemic as it unfolds. We welcome your contributions to ensure the information we post reflects research from your region while demonstrating the role of population scientists in providing timely scientific evidence to combat the epidemic and to understand its long-term consequences.   


Demography provides the tools to analyze population data and break down the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 not only by sex and age but also by geography and socio-economic variables, in the process revealing the adverse and even cruel impacts of socio-economic inequalities and systemic racism. The COVID epidemic has laid bare inequalities within and across countries, revealing disparities in health and mortality in which specific vulnerable groups are disproportionately affected by the pandemic - more likely to become infected and die from the disease or lose their livelihoods in the economic downturn caused by efforts to contain its spread. 


Long before COVID, health and mortality data similarly revealed that race and caste, regardless of one’s wealth or socioeconomic status, is associated with worse health outcomes. Recently the death of George Floyd by the hands of the police in Minneapolis on 25 May, ignited long-simmering outrage over systemic racism in the United States and across the globe. 


The International Science Council, of which the IUSSP is a member, has called for dialogue to address the scourge of systemic and institutional racism within scientific organizations and within society (see Statement on combating systemic racism and other forms of discrimination). Convinced that science can only flourish if it is fully inclusive, the Council of the IUSSP supports this statement and the call for scientific organizations to “gather existing knowledge on discrimination in science; to convene a global dialogue within and beyond the institutions of science; and to agree on additional concrete steps aimed at correcting systemic discrimination in science.”


The IUSSP remains firmly committed to promoting population sciences and population scientists globally, ensuring that population scientists, regardless of their nationality, ethnicity, race, gender or religion, contribute fully to high-level scientific research and discussions and debates about population matters. In the same vein, the Council is currently developing an anti-harassment policy and code of conduct for all IUSSP activities.