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Population and Development


Many people know that development shapes population trends—for example, rising incomes usually lead to falling birthrates. But the reverse is also true: population trends can impede or hasten development. CGD's work on population focuses on this often neglected interaction.

Traditional population research seeks to understand the macro- and micro-level connections between demographic trends, poverty, and economic growth. However, precise links between population and poverty remain unclear: economic growth alone does not pull individuals out of poverty and reduced fertility rates do not necessarily yield higher economic growth. The Center is conducting innovative research to better understand and positively influence these complex relationships.

The Population & Poverty Research Network

In 2005, the CGD first convened the Population and Development Working Group. The Working Group identified three main substantive areas under which lines of empirical research would be useful for the medium-term policy agenda. For each, investment in data collection and use of appropriate research strategies promise to lead to more definitive and generalize-able findings than has been possible in the past.  This work was solidified in the CGD working group on Population and Development report, The Population Dynamics and Economic Development Research Agenda, which focused on the linkages between reproductive health and economic outcomes, at the individual, community, and regional levels.

These research priorities reflected the multidisciplinary study of population and development by incorporating experts from the fields of public health, epidemiology, demography, economics, and public policy, among others—and are now being reflected in the work of researchers, funders, and interested policymakers, who are able to communicate their findings through the PopPov Research Network, an online tool that promotes the sharing of new knowledge about the links between population growth and economic outcomes.

PopPov is currently maintained by partnerships between the Population Reference Bureau, the Hewlett Foundation, and the CGD. PopPov research can be accessed here.

The CGD is evaluating PopPov sponsored research and selecting a small number of studies to be selected as working papers. Further, the CGD is reconvening members of the original working group to assess (i) whether the right policy questions where identified, (ii) whether research conducted responded adequately to questions, and (iii) to define further gaps in knowledge to be addressed. This work is expected to be completed by fall 2012.

Past Initiatives:

Demographics and development in the 21st Century