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Published on: Apr 9, 2020

The work of applied demographers and population research scientists addressing the COVID1-19 pandemic is the focus a special issue of “Applied Demography,” the official publication of the Population Association of America (PAA).

According to editor Alexis Santos, assistant professor of human development and family studies at Penn State and cofunded faculty member of the Social Science Research Institute, a call was issued to the PAA community to submit the COVID-19 work they had been sharing on social media and other outlets. “Estimates, projections, and forecasts from demographers and population research scientists are becoming increasingly important to the ongoing pandemic.”

“Population scientists are well positioned to advance research on the short-and long-term effects of the pandemic on health and development of children, adolescents and young adults, as well as to advance our understanding of the disparate effect that the disease is having on diverse older populations,” said Eileen Crimmins, PAA president and AARP professor of gerontology at the University of Southern California.

The special issue focuses on a number of pandemic-related topics, including potential family bereavement, authored by Ashton Verdery, assistant professor of sociology, demography and social data analytics at Penn State; and Emily Smith-Greenaway, assistant professor of sociology at the University of South Carolina Dornsife.

“There is still great uncertainty in how the epidemic will play out in the U.S., how many will be infected and how many will die, but it is certain that each death will be felt by many people, including family members and friends,” said Verdery. “This will add additional bereavement burdens to people's mental health and sever important sources of social support at precisely the time people need it the most.”

The special issue also features four articles that discuss healthcare capacity within Latin America, including the countries of Guatemala, Mexico and El Salvador. Three of the articles focus on the aged and aging, including a dashboard to compare age structures during the pandemic. The final article presents an analysis of fertility responses to mortality by looking at past cases around the world.

“The special issue investigates the demography behind COVID-19 and gives researchers a way to share their research on estimates and forecast projections relevant to the ongoing pandemic,” said Santos.