This essay provides a series of reflections on the current state of demography as seen by four early-career researchers who are actively engaged in aspects of the discipline as varied as research, teaching, mentorship, data collection efforts, policy making, and policy advising. Despite some claims that the discipline is weakening, we showcase the great potential of the field and outline promising pathways and novel directions for the future. In so doing, we critically assess recent innovations in data quality and availability, stressing the need to “revolutionize” the way that demographic methods are taught by adopting a viewpoint that more closely reflects the rapidly changing, or “fast,” nature of global social phenomena such as conflict-related displacements, environmental disasters, migration streams, pandemics, and evolving population policies. We conclude by discussing the relevance of careful demographic analyses for policy making, stressing three main points: (i) the need to make demography more visible and understandable to the public eye; (ii) the importance of engaging and co-creating with local communities to “break” the academic bubble; and (iii) the urge to counteract the spread of misinformation—a phenomenon that has become even more visible in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak.
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© 2023, The Author(s).
- Data and methods
- Public policy