The Population Studies Unit, known earlier as Demography Research Unit is one of the oldest units in ISI. Population research activities were initiated at the Institute since the thirties with grants from the Government of undivided Bengal and from the Ministry of Home affairs, Government of India. The unit in charge of such activities became an integral part of the National Sample Survey (NSS) in 1951 and it was named Demography Research Unit outside the purview of the NSS in 1952. The objectives of the Demography Research Unit was to promote theoretical and applied research in Demography and to impart training in Demography to B. Stat, M. Stat, Diploma and other students. The Unit was renamed as Population Studies Unit in 1987-88 in view of large number of factors that affect various demographic characteristics and its resultant impact on development. The importance of Population Studies has increased over all the years with opening of newer and more challenging areas of population sciences. The topics considered under Population Studies are no longer studies of population structure and spatial cum temporal dynamism involving mortality, fertility and migration, but also various other population characteristics namely, nationality, ethnicity, religion, health, education, economic condition and the surrounding environment. 

The research activities of the Unit include statistical trend analyses, multivariate statistical analyses, statistical surveys, categorical data analyses, parametric and non-parametric statistical inference, time-series analyses, mathematical and statistical modeling, epidemiological analyses, spatial analyses, micro-level demographic research on fertility, studies on mortality and migration characteristics, studies on actuarial statistics and health insurance, analyses of population dynamism and ageing. It has also worked on population projection, application of survival analysis in health care perspective, measuring economic efficiency using input-output models in different health care institutions, use of inequality models to judge the performance of various population parameters, indirect estimation of illegal migrants in border and hill areas, epidemiological studies on COVID-19 Pandemic, etc.

Besides these, the Unit has organized several international and national workshops, seminars and conferences, and engaged in teaching Master degree, Bachelor degree and Post-Graduate Diploma students in I.S.I. The subjects taught in internal courses are Bio-statistics, Statistical Methods in Public Health, Research Methods, and Quantitative Techniques, Special topics in Operations Research, Demography, Life Contingencies and Actuarial Methods. The Unit has also engaged in teaching international students of the International Statistical Education Centre (ISEC), covering Probability, Bio-statistics, Demography and Techniques of Evaluation of Health Programmes.

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