Population Council Journal

Population and Development Review

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Population and Development Review seeks to advance knowledge of the relationships between population and social, economic, and environmental change and provides a forum for discussion of related issues of public policy. Population and Development Review is published quarterly.

The journal contains:

  • Articles on advances in theory and application, policy analysis, sociographic studies, and critical assessments of recent research
  • Notes and commentaries on current population questions and policy developments
  • Data and perspectives on new statistics and their interpretation
  • Archives with a resonance for current debate on population issues
  • Book reviews
  • Documents and official voices on population matters from around the world. 

Special Online Issues

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Article Abstracts

Rethinking global food demand for 2050
Authors: Walter P. Falcon, Rosamond L. Naylor, Nikhil D. Shankar. 2022

Windows of vulnerability: Consequences of exposure timing during the Dutch Hunger Winter
Authors: Daniel Ramirez, Steven A. Haas. 2022

The formation and realization of fertility goals among a US cohort in the post-recession years
Authors: Karen Benjamin Guzzo. 2022

Familial deaths and first birth
Authors: Heather Rackin, Christina M. Gibson-Davis. 2022

The meaning of health in rural South Africa: Gender, the life course, and the socioepidemiological context
Authors: Sanyu A. Mojola, Erin Ice, Enid Schatz, Nicole Angotti, Brian Houle, F. Xavier Gómez-Olivé. 2022

Conflict and child mortality in Mali: A synthetic control analysis
Authors: Edoardo Masset. 2022

The transformation of polygyny in sub-Saharan Africa
Authors: Sophia Chae, Victor Agadjanian. 2022

Dynamics of union dissolution in sub-Saharan Africa
Authors: Ben Malinga John, Natalie Nitsche. 2022

For Authors

Population and Development Review accepts only electronic submissions using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Please visit the journal’s website to read Author Guidelines and submit an article.

All other correspondence, outside manuscript submission and status of papers, should be sent to:

Population and Development Review
Population Council
One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza
New York, NY, 10017 USA


Welfare and Redistributive Effects of Social Assistance in the Global South

Miguel Niño-Zarazúa (ed.)
Publication date: 2019
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The studies that constitute this supplement to Population and Development Review came about as a result of a UNU-WIDER project “The Economics and Politics of Social Protection” that took an integrated approach to the study of taxation and social protection systems in developing countries. The collection was conceptualized and shaped during discussions in a Symposium organized in Mexico City on February 12–14, 2016, and in the end culminated in eight studies that contribute to the literature on social assistance.

The studies by Arza, You, and Niño-Zarazúa; Amarante and co-authors; and Sari examine redistributive effects of social assistance programs, whereas the studies by Sebastian and co-authors; Canela and Niño-Zarazúa; Neidhöfer and Niño-Zarazúa; and Palacio examine the longer term and gendered welfare effects of social assistance. 

Fertility Transition in sub-Saharan Africa

John B. Casterline, John Bongaarts (eds.)
Publication date: 2017
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Fertility remains high in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and the pace of decline is considerably slower than it was in Asia and Latin America during the 1970s. Optimism that a rapid fertility transition was imminent, a common view among scholars in the 1990s, was dashed by survey evidence that steadily accumulated through the 2000s. At this juncture, the future course of fertility in sub-Saharan Africa remains highly uncertain. Many scientific and policy questions about the region’s fertility decline remain unresolved. Competing hypotheses have been proposed to explain the late onset and slow pace of transition. Motivated by these lacunae, the Committee on Population of the US National Academy of Sciences conducted a workshop in 2015 bringing together demographers and other social scientists with African research experience to analyze recent fertility trends in sub-Saharan Africa and to assess the prospects for more rapid reproductive change in the region. The chapters in this volume are based on papers presented at the workshop.

Among the chapter topics, contributors discuss three explanations for the region’s late fertility decline: slow progress in health and socioeconomic development, the pronatalism many see as intrinsic to African social and cultural systems, and a lack of investment in family planning programs. In each of these areas, current problems and future policy outcomes are dependent to a greater or lesser degree on the effectiveness of the state. In the short run, it is argued that there is considerable scope for fertility reduction simply by satisfying existing unmet need for contraception through increased access to reproductive health services, as borne out by recent experience in a few African countries. The potential returns from fertility decline are substantial, in particular a macroeconomic boost commonly termed the “demographic dividend.” But the scale of such a dividend is contingent on adequate human capital investment (especially schooling), absorption of large cohorts of young people into the labor market, and fertility decline rapid enough to generate the requisite age-structure changes. Many countries in the region may fall short of these conditions. With regard to fertility decline to date and prospects for accelerated decline, the chapters in this volume document sub-Saharan Africa’s diversity and resistance to generalization.

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Online compilation: Fertility Transition: A Selection from Population and Development Review

Special online issue of Population and Development Review honoring 40 years of advancing knowledge
Publication date: 2015
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The Population Council published the first issue of Population and Development Review in 1975. Its continuing focus has been on advancing knowledge of the complex relationships between population and social, economic, and environmental change and providing a forum for discussion of related issues of public policy. A core topic has been fertility transition: the one-time demographic transformation in which a society’s fertility falls from an average of five or more births per woman to below three, and often below two. The transition, linked to socioeconomic development and improvements in health and longevity, is of major interest to social scientists. Moreover, it is still underway in many countries, and in a few has barely begun. The future pace of fertility decline in these countries has large implications for the ultimate peak size of the human population and its well-being. To mark the journal’s 40th anniversary, a selection of articles on this important subject has been drawn from the Review’s past four decades.

Population and Public Policy: Essays in Honor of Paul Demeny

Geoffrey McNicoll, John Bongaarts, Ethel P. Churchill (eds.)
Publication date: 2012
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Paul Demeny, founding editor of Population and Development Review, retired following the publication of Volume 38 in 2012. This collection of essays on population and public policy marks the occasion and celebrates his scholarly career.

The opening essays in this supplement to Population and Development Review cover population renewal in affluent societies, the management of intergenerational relations throughout history, and the sustainability issues confronting the modern welfare state. Another set of contributions is concerned with the historical experience with low fertility; the puzzles that ultra-low fertility and natural population decrease pose for theorists of human behavior; the relationship between fertility decline and democratization; and the intractable problems for social policy in Japan created by ultra-low fertility and extreme population aging. Several essays examine the role of public policy in lowering high fertility; others offer novel insights on natural and human capital and technology.

A final group of essays concerns theory and data: social change modeled as a cohort succession process; the life expectancy–income relationship in cross-section and over time; the demographic transition among the elderly population as a delayed analogue of the familiar demographic transition; and the possible demise of the centuries-old instrument of data collection that is the population census.

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340 pp., $24.95

Demographic Transition and Its Consequences

Ronald D. Lee, David S. Reher (eds.)
Publication date: 2011
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While the determinants of demographic transition have been explored for more than half a century, far less attention has been given to the consequences of transition, aside from its immediate effect on population aging. Transition has major implications for family and kinship patterns, urbanization, public finance and the welfare state, and intergenerational relations. The chapters in this supplement explore aspects of the transitional and post-transition landscape from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. They cover both modern industrial societies and emerging economies, and take note of the circumstances of latecomers to the transition process.

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275 pp., $13.50

Population Aging, Human Capital Accumulation, and Productivity Growth

Alexia Prskawetz, David E. Bloom, Wolfgang Lutz (eds.)
Publication date: 2008
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This supplement to Population and Development Review covers the broad economic significance of global population aging, with chapters on the historical evidence of the effects of human capital accumulation; age variation in production and consumption; methods of population projection by educational attainment; and country case studies of age-productivity relationships (Austria, Japan, Sweden).

To order a print copy, contact publications@popcouncil.org
326 pp., $25.00

The Political Economy of Global Population Change, 1950-2050

Paul Demeny, Geoffrey McNicoll (eds.)
Publication date: 2006
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The essays assembled in this supplement to Population and Development Review address the history of national and international political responses to high fertility and rapid population growth; the demographic dimensions of economic globalization and international factor mobility; policy implications of population-linked changes in the natural and built environment; and problems of managing international migration. Particular attention is given to the situations and perspectives of the two demographic giants (and emerging economic heavyweights), India and China; to Europe’s predicament in confronting low fertility and population decline in the face of rising immigration pressures; and to Africa’s situation, combining a heavy burden of disease, still-rapid population growth, and deep problems of governance. 

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288 pp., $21.00

Aging, Health, and Public Policy: Demographic and Economic Perspectives

Linda J. Waite (ed.)
Publication date: 2004
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In this supplement to Population and Development Review, distinguished social scientists bring a variety of disciplinary perspectives—economic, demographic, epidemiological—to bear on the subject of population aging, looking particularly to likely future trends and their economic consequences. Among the questions investigated: What can be said about the future course of longevity, given that research on both historical and contemporary populations belies the existence of a biologically fixed maximum for the human life span? To what extent do genetic factors contribute to the development of major chronic diseases of later life, such as Alzheimer’s? How can we unravel the strong positive association between socioeconomic status and health? (One striking finding: money does not buy health; education does—but through what channels?) What are the effects of increased longevity on the viability of publicly financed retirement and disability programs—and can we assign probabilities to such increases? The data drawn on come largely from elaborate longitudinal surveys such as the (US) Health and Retirement Study, the importance of which is thus underlined. Taken together, these chapters provide a portrait of a dynamic, vibrant, innovative program of research that lays the foundation for understanding population aging and the social and economic challenges it brings.

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265 pp., $21.00

Life Span: Evolutionary, Ecological, and Demographic Perspectives

James R. Carey, Shripad Tuljapurkar (eds.)
Publication date: 2003
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The human life span continues to increase even in already low-mortality populations—with major implications for societies and economies. Classical evolutionary theory accounts for survival only through the age of reproduction. A more elaborate theory, integrating biological and demographic perspectives, is required to explain these current trends in longevity and to gauge their future course. The papers collected in this supplement to Population and Development Review contribute to the development of such a theory. The authors are leading scientists from demography, evolutionary biology, and field ecology, equipped to draw insights not only from human populations but also from the comparative mortality patterns and environmental circumstances of many other species: mammals, birds, fish, and insects. The opening chapter presents an overview of the evolutionary and genetic bases of aging and senescence, within and between species, and of the additional role of social evolution. Subsequent chapters explore the selective forces that shape life span patterns in various species—not least, in fruit flies; present an economic optimization model of the evolution of life span; and analyze the surprising phenomenon of the apparent slowing of the rate of increase in human mortality with age at the oldest ages. A final chapter attempts a synthesis of the various approaches to explaining and predicting age patterns of mortality.

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293 pp., $18.00

Population and Environment: Methods of Analysis

Wolfgang Lutz, Alexia Prskawetz, Warren C. Sanderson (eds.)
Publication date: 2002
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The effects of the human population on the natural environment are of public concern and scientific interest, as are the effects of the natural environment on the human population. Together they are the subject of an expanding research effort: the emerging field of population–environment analysis. This supplement to Population and Development Review is the first attempt to systematically address methodological issues in population–environment analysis. Its contributors—demographers, other social scientists, and environmental scientists—describe and critically examine key concepts and analytical approaches, both in  theoretical terms and through examples and case studies. The population–environment systems discussed range from air pollution in urban localities to national-level problems of land cover and food security. The conclusions point toward needed advances in system modeling and interdisciplinary research.

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251 pp., $18.00