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Demographers’ contributions to the understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic

During epidemics and pandemics of infectious diseases, demography’s insights help understand who infects whom, how many cases of an infection there might be, and how severe a pathogen might be. Population scientists also play key roles in evaluating the death toll linked to an epidemic, describing how it affects fundamental aspects of social life (e.g., marriage, fertility, residential arrangements), and planning social services to mitigate its impact on wellbeing. The IUSSP is presenting here some of the (numerous) contributions demographers have made to our understanding of the SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 pandemic that is currently unfolding. We plan to update this page regularly. We hope to highlight contributions from all regions of the world. If you have information or resources you would like to share on this page, please email Stéphane Helleringer, at sheller7@jhu.edu

Information is provided in 6 categories:

  • Demographers in the news 
  • Demographic research and advocacy on the spread and impact of covid-19
  • Data collection on and during the covid-19 pandemic
  • Data visualization corner 
  • Projecting impact and needs for the most vulnerable
  • Coping with the COVID19 pandemic throughout the world

Demographers in the News

Demographers have contributed to news reports on various aspects of the pandemic, from prevention strategies to differences between countries in number of COVID19 deaths.


*** The reports below are predominantly from US and European news sources at the moment, please contribute news reports from other world regions ***


UK wrong to rule out global coronavirus comparisons, experts say (Guardian, 17 May 2020)


Sweden Stayed Open. A Deadly Month Shows the Risks (NY Times, 15 May 2020)


Malegaon mystery: Covid count low but surge in overall deaths (The Indian Express, 4 May 2020)


46,000 Missing Deaths: Tracking the True Toll of the Coronavirus Outbreak (NY Times, 30 April 2020)


A importância de testar a população para enfrentar a covid-19 (Nexo, 24 April 2020)


En Amérique latine, l’ampleur de l’épidémie est largement sous-estimée (Alternatives Economiques, 24 April 2020)


Coronavirus: América Latina y el Caribe deben aumentar de forma drástica las pruebas de COVID-19 (the Conversation)


What 5 Coronavirus Models Say the Next Month Will Look Like (NY Times, 22 April 2020)

What The 1918 Pandemic And The Great Recession Can Teach Us In Responding To COVID-19 Today (Forbes, 21 April 2020)

Countries with older populations are more likely to be hit the hardest by coronavirus, study confirms - and tracking the average age could help to predict future outbreaks (Daily Mail, 17 April 2020)

Tracking covid-19 excess deaths across countries (The Economist, 16 April 2020)

Don’t Expect a Quarantine Baby Boom (NY Times, 8 April 2020)

Official counts understate the U.S. Coronavirus death toll (NY Times, 7 April 2020)

Expertos advierten la necesidad de ampliar la cobertura de pruebas COVID-19 en América Latina (El Expectador, 2 April 2020)

Homeless during a pandemic (CNN, 2 April 2020)

Coronavirus: Why death and mortality rates differ (BBC, 2nd April 2020)

Social Distancing Might Stop. And Start. And Stop. And Start. Until We Have A Vaccine. (BuzzFeed News, 1 April 2020) 


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Demographic research and news articles on the spread and impact of COVID-19

Calls for papers:

Call for Papers - GENUS Thematic Series on The Demography of COVID-19

Deadline for submissions 30 September 2020

New interventions:

Social network-based distancing strategies to flatten the COVID-19 curve in a post-lockdown world


Impact on life expectancy

Demographic Perspectives on Mortality of Covid-19 and Other Epidemics


Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on life expectancy in Madrid (Spain)


Demographers have examined the role of population composition in explaining differences in epidemic trajectories between countries. 

COVID-19: A New Challenge for Migration Policy (Migration Policy Practice, April-June 2020)

Policy Brief. Demography and the Coronavirus Pandemic (Population Europe, May 2020)

Use of the Demographic and Health Survey framework as a population surveillance strategy for COVID-19 (The Lancet, 29 April 2020)

Demographic science aids in understanding the spread and fatality rates of COVID-19. (PNAS, 17 April 2020) 

Workforce demographics and the flattening of COVID-19’s curve of infections (VOX  CEPR Policy Portal, 17 April 2020)


Mapping the Burden of COVID-19 in the United States (11 April 2020)

Vulnerable groups at increased risk of COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa: The case of the HIV population (OSF Preprints, 6 April 2020)

Monitoring trends and differences in COVID-19 case fatality rates using decomposition methods: Contributions of age structure and age-specific fatality (medRxiv, 2 April 2020)

Population age structure only partially explains the large number of COVID-19 deaths at the oldest ages (OSF Preprings, 1 April 2020)




Demographers have alerted about potential effects of the COVID19 pandemic on various aspects of reproductive health and fertility

A demographic scaling model for estimating the total number of COVID-19 infections (Cornell University, 24 April 2020)

Epilocal: a real-time tool for local epidemic monitoring (Cornell University, 21 April 2020)

Estimates of the Potential Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Sexual and Reproductive Health in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (Guttmacher Institute, 16 April 2020)

Crowding and the epidemic intensity of COVID-19 transmission (MedRxiv, 15 April 2020)

COVID-19 & Reproductive Health (2021 International Conference on Family Planning)




Addressing the spread of SARS-CoV-2/COVID19 in low and middle-income countries 

In Africa:

Mobility analysis to support the Government of Ghana in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak (Ghana Statistical Service)

Supporting communities living in urban informal settlements to protect themselves from COVID-19 (APHRC, 31 March 2020)


In South America:

Latin American and Caribbean governments must increase the COVID-19 test coverage drastically


In Asia:

COVID-19 and the Importance of Improving Civil Registration in India

Beyond the numbers: Covid-19 and the Philippine population

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