Population Data for the 21st century

New York, United States, 4-6 December 2019 


The IUSSP organized an Expert Group Meeting on “Population Data for the 21st century: Advances in data collection methodologies”, in partnership with UNFPA. The meeting focused on innovations in the collection of structured data, especially in the contexts of low- and middle-income countries. Held at UNFPA headquarters in New York on 4-6 December, this meeting brought together leading specialists to present and critically assess methodological innovations and to gain consensus on the lessons learned. A second goal of the meeting is to disseminate knowledge on innovations to researchers, professors, and practitioners working in the Global South. Many of these advances have tended to occur within "silos" – the institutions tasked with data collection – and tend to be known only to a limited number of people working in the area. This hinders their broader validation and use. To ensure wide dissemination, the meeting was live-streamed and recorded, and videos are available for viewing along with presenters' presentation slides and some suggestions for key readings and online resources of value to others wishing to replicate these approaches. 


Top researchers and practitioners from across the world and hailing from diverse fields of expertise (demography, epidemiology, data sciences, geography, sociology, political science...) presented 32 studies organized into 10 substantive sessions listed below (for details, see the meeting programme):

  • Panel Discussion on Data and Methods Needs: Regional Perspectives
  • 2020 census round: New technologies and methodologies
  • Hybrid census innovations in insecure settings and fragile contexts
  • Advances in mobile technologies for data collection
  • Advances in the collection of validation data to measure the completeness and quality of civil registration data
  • Innovative approaches to assess the quality and completeness of civil registration data
  • Responsive & adaptive survey designs, and data quality
  • Hard to reach populations: Indirect techniques and using networks to assess hidden populations
  • Measuring sensitive topics, ideals and attitudes
  • Indirectly measuring sensitive topics


In all, 93 participants attended the meeting in New York, including the presenters, discussants, 7 funded junior scholars mostly from the Global South, and other participants from institutions and countries from regions across the globe. During the course of the three-day meeting, the link to watch the live-steamed presentations was opened more than 1,600 times.


This event was co-organized by Tom LeGrand (IUSSP), Romesh Silva (UNFPA), Sam Clark (Ohio State University and IUSSP) and Dennis Feehan (University of California at Berkeley), with financial support provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation through a grant to the IUSSP for activities in the area of the Data Revolution, UNFPA and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada. Many participants expressed their appreciation of the meeting, stating their desire that similar cross-disciplinary activities associating researchers and practitioners working on advances in data and methods could be developed in upcoming years.


Rumi Chunara (presenting) and Stephane Helleringer
Philip Setel (presenting), Mariana Francisca Ospina Bohorquez and Patrick Gerland
Tapiwa Jhamba, presenting.
Tapiwa Jhamba, presenting via live-streaming