International Union for the Scientific Study of Population
Names John Bongaarts 2013 Laureate
NEW YORK, NY (21 August 2013) — The International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) has named John Bongaarts 2013 Laureate, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the advancement of population sciences and distinguished service rendered to the IUSSP. Bongaarts is Vice President and Distinguished Scholar at the Population Council. The Laureate Ceremony will take place at the XXVII IUSSP Conference in Busan, South Korea, on Thursday, 29 August 2013, following the General Assembly, which begins at 19:00 in the Grand Ballroom, 3rd floor of the BEXCO Convention Hall.
Among Bongaarts's best-known contributions are the development of the proximate determinants framework to analyze the level and pattern of fertility (http://www.jstor.org/stable/1972149). The proximate determinants framework provided a simple, but comprehensive model for describing the relationships between factors that directly influence fertility—such as frequency of intercourse, use of contraception, and rate of miscarriage—and the level of fertility. Previous attempts to explore these relationships were highly complex and difficult to apply. This influential framework is now taught to students in demography around the world and is a mainstay for demographic investigations.
In 1994, Bongaarts published a ground-breaking analysis, "Population policy options in the developing world," in the journal Science. The article examined three causes of population growth—unwanted fertility, high desired family size, and population momentum—and advocated a significantly expanded approach to addressing them. Previous efforts to slow population growth had focused largely on implementing family planning programs. Bongaarts argued for improving the quality of these services, and highlighted a previously neglected opportunity: reducing population momentum.
Momentum refers to the population growth that would occur even if levels of childbearing immediately reached replacement level. When a population has a large cohort of young people, they will produce more than enough births to maintain population growth over decades even if levels of childbearing decline. To reduce population momentum, Bongaarts recommended taking steps to increase the age at which a young woman has her first child, particularly by investing in education for adolescent girls. "The longer girls stay in school, the later they marry and the greater the delay in childbearing," he wrote.
Bongaarts's insights allow specialists to make better decisions about how to invest effectively in programs and policies to slow population growth. His subsequent meetings with world leaders contributed to a significant global refocusing of resources on improving the lives of girls and women. This refocusing was solidified the same year when policymakers from around the world gathered for the landmark International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, where delegates reached a consensus that the equality and empowerment of women is a global priority.
The textbook Demography: Measuring and Modeling Population Processes by Samuel Preston, Patrick Heuveline, and Michel Guillot (2001) states that, "Because it clarified the future sources of growth at a time when population policies were being reconsidered on a global scale, Bongaarts's article is one of the most influential ever written in demography." In his letter nominating Dr. Bongaarts for this honor, former IUSSP Laureate Preston wrote, "In my view, John analyzes demographic phenomena better than anyone in his generation.""I am delighted that the IUSSP is honoring John Bongaarts for his decades of incisive research," said Peter Donaldson, Population Council president. "John has changed the way the world thinks about fertility, aging, population growth, the prevalence of HIV, and the central role of girls and women in global health and development."
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