One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza New York, New York 10017 tel 212-339-0500 fax 212-755-6052 e-mail [email protected] www.popcouncil.org The Population Council is an international, nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that seeks to improve the well-being and reproductive health of current and future generations around the world and to help achieve a humane, equitable, and sustainable balance between people and resources. The Council conducts biomedical, social science, and public health research and helps build research capacities in developing countries. Established in 1952, the Council is governed by an international board of trustees.
CONTENTS Preface iv Summary and Recommendations 1 1 Introduction 8 2 Population Studies and Contemporary Social Problems 9 3 The Job Market and Career Opportunities in Developing Countries 21 4 The Funding Landscape 27 5 How Are Current Training Systems Meeting Needs? 30 6 Alternative Models for Training and Capacity Building 46 References 55 Appendix 1 Current Situation and Future Need for Population Experts in Three Developing Countries A. China 59 B. India 75 C. Uganda 93 Appendix 2 Population/Demography Research Centers in Developing Countries 101.
PREFACE From its earliest days the Population Council has recognized the importance and value of train- ing population scientists from developing countries. Since 1952, the Council’s social science fel- lowship program has sustained a commitment to this goal; approximately 1,500 fellowships have been awarded for pre- and postdoctoral training in population studies. While the demand for population scientists remains strong, the field has changed considerably since those early days.
SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS Summary For some four decades, population scientists focused on describing and explaining population growth and fertility decline. That era is now over. New global issues—the expansion of inter- national migration, aging populations, persistent poverty, preservation of the environment, the HIV/AIDS epidemic—have significant demographic components. Because of its distinctive tools and perspective, the field of population studies is particularly well suited to understand- ing issues such as these and proposing effective solutions. The field strongly emphasizes empirical, evidence-based research. It focuses on clarifying both the population consequences of individual behavior and the effect of macro-level population processes on individuals.
Population experts in developing countries have traditionally been employed mainly in academic institutions and government. Yet the job market for population scientists has under- gone significant changes in recent years as government structures are modified, universities evolve, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) acquire increasing importance. In gener- al, the academic job market appears to be stagnant or declining, while in some countries the decentralization of government and reform of the health sector have increased the need for population experts at local levels of government. The private sector has also become a major employer of population experts in some locations and is potentially an important market in countries with an expanding commercial sector. A disparity between the requirements and needs of the job market and the supply of population experts with appropriate skills is evident in many developing countries. First, population scientists are struggling to keep up with new techniques required for the analysis of contemporary problems. Second, as a result of the con- traction of training opportunities, older population scientists are not being adequately replaced by a new generation. Because population research tends to focus on social problems and the search for their solution, donor priorities have an important influence on the field. Over time, new donors have entered the population field and the substantive priorities of established donors have shifted. Moreover, a critical change in the population field occurred in the mid-1990s when the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) decreased or eliminated funding for Ph.D. and Master’s-level training.
In light of the preceding assessment of the current situation and needs for the future, the panel recommends the actions described below. While it is clear that the most desirable situ- ation is one in which population experts are trained primarily in high-quality institutions located in their own countries or regions, it is equally clear that this scenario is not likely to be achieved in the near future. Moreover, until career opportunities for trained population scientists improve in the developing world, many of those trained outside their own country may not return after their training is complete. The limited availability of resources dictates that choices be made. With this in mind, the following recommendations represent the panel’s assessment of the actions that are most likely to lead to a more desirable situation while tak- ing account of existing needs and gaps. The recommendations focus on graduate-level education and support for highly trained population professionals. They are directed toward three of the primary actors in the training of population scientists: (1) universities providing graduate training in population, (2) profes- sional associations of population scientists, and (3) donors supporting population scientists in developing countries.
3. Ensure the availability of advanced-level training in formal demography for a small number of spe- cialists at university-based centers of excellence. While all population scientists should have a basic grounding in the knowledge and tech- niques of population science, advanced training in formal demography is required for a small- er number of specialists. These specialists are crucial for performing some of the key functions of traditional demography, including population estimates and projections, methodological development, and modeling. Neither the demand nor the expertise exists in all countries or universities to provide such training. The panel recommends that training in formal demography be provided by a network of university-based centers of excellence that commit themselves to specializing in this area.