Distilled Demographics: Where Do Population Data Come From?

Product: Video Series

Author: Carl Haub

Date: December 27, 2012

Distilled Demographics: Where Do Population Data Come From?

“Distilled Demographics,” PRB’s video series, highlights key demographic concepts such as fertility, mortality, and migration. Through these short videos, you can learn demography’s real-world application and impact. “These videos not only show that demography can be exciting, but also highlight how population trends and issues affects the well-being of us all,” says Carl Haub, senior demographer at PRB. “Fertility, mortality, and migration—along with other demographic issues—play a major role in determining what kind of opportunities and challenges people face in their communities and countries.”

Many people want to know: Where, exactly, do population figures come from? The census is the foundation of demographic statistics, but census-taking is a complicated and difficult process. There are two divisions among the countries of the world in terms of the availability and the quality and completeness of data. Data from developing countries is a little “softer,” and for the most part, incomplete, but countries do try to register births and deaths. These are the numbers that go into many demographic studies, including PRB’s World Population Data Sheet. In this video, PRB senior demographer Carl Haub explains how the demographic data from countries are obtained, highlighting major global surveys and other means.