Make a career in population studies

By Ranjan K Baruah

We must know that it took hundreds of thousands of years for the world population to grow to 1 billion – then in just another 200 years or so, it grew sevenfold. In 2011, the global population reached the 7 billion mark, and today, it stands at about 7.7 billion, and it’s expected to grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050, and 10.9 billion in 2100.
This dramatic growth has been driven largely by increasing numbers of people surviving to reproductive age, and has been accompanied by major changes in fertility rates, increasing urbanization and accelerating migration. These trends will have far-reaching implications for generations to come. The recent past has seen enormous changes in fertility rates and life expectancy. In the early 1970s, women had on average 4.5 children each; by 2015, total fertility for the world had fallen to below 2.5 children per woman. Meanwhile, average global life spans have risen, from 64.6 years in the early 1990s to 72.6 years in 2019.
In addition, the world is seeing high levels of urbanization and accelerating migration. 2007 was the first year in which more people lived in urban areas than in rural areas, and by 2050 about 66 per cent of the world population will be living in cities. All these bring more challenges ahead of us. We are aware that 11th July is observed as World Population Day to generate awareness and raise issues related to population worldwide.
Let us explore career avenues related to population and what aspirants may choose as their area of study if they want to work related to population matters. Well, demography is the statistical study of populations, especially human beings. As a very general science, it can analyze any kind of dynamic living population, i.e., one that changes over time or space. Demography encompasses the study of the size, structure, and distribution of these populations, and spatial or temporal changes in them in response to birth, migration, aging, and death.
Courses are popularly known as population sciences or studies. Population Science is a research discipline that looks for having a transitional brunt on public health and clinical practice through the reduction in disease risk, incidence, and death as well as improved excellence of life for all individuals. Population Science looks across the entire spectrum of factors that can impact health outcomes. These health factors include the realms of health care, individual health behaviours, environmental factors, social and economic factors, policies, and genetic determinants of health. Researchers in the field of Population Science come from various disciplines, such as Public Health, Medicine, Pharmacy, Economics, Demography, and Urban Planning.
Students’ after completing their graduation may specialise in population studies which are available as M Sc or M A courses in different universities. Courses includes M.A./M.Sc Programme in Population Studies, Master of Science in Biostatistics and Demography, Master of Population Studies (MPS), Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.) in Population Studies, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Population Studies, Master of Population Studies (MPS) (Distance Learning), Post Doctoral Fellowship (P.D.F.), Diploma in Health Promotion Education (DHPE), etc.
Apart from full time courses there are some short term courses like diplomas or certificates programme apart from short term training programme. One of the best institutes to study these courses is Indian Institute of Population Sciences (IIPS). There are scopes in India as we have many activities carried out for the population of India. From surveys to activities these subjects bring scopes for young people to work related to population. Aspirants may get jobs in government departments, research institutes or developmental organisations after finishing their courses related to population studies and United Nations agencies like the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Apart from the academic qualifications one must possess employability skills to be successful when it comes to career with population.
(The author is a career mentor and skill trainer and can be reached at 8473943734 or [email protected])

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