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Population Estimates and the 2020 Census Round: Challenges and Lessons Learned in Times of Pandemic

International Workshop

November 21 –24, 2023
Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística (IBGE)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Download the announcement (in English, Spanish and Portuguese)


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Latin American populations. There has been an unprecedented increase in mortality rates in several countries in the region. The pandemic has also affected fertility, generally accelerating the downward trend that was already being observed, as well as migration levels and patterns. In this regard, the pandemic has highlighted the great need for robust and timely systems for data collection and dissemination on fertility, mortality, and population, disaggregated geographically and broken down by age, sex, and, for mortality data, by causes of death. Additionally, the pandemic has further exacerbated the challenges in producing demographic data, including censuses, surveys, and birth and death registration records. Given the importance of this data for population estimates and projections in recent years, it is necessary to propose solutions to these challenges.

Regarding population censuses, the pandemic resulted in many countries having to postpone their planned surveys for 2020. Some countries were able to conduct them in 2022, while others have planned them for 2023 or later. This was due to the health restrictions that made it impossible or uncertain to carry out the data collection. Due to the pandemic's situations and difficulties, population and housing censuses in Latin America and the Caribbean are undergoing transformations both in terms of methodologies and increased pressure on work schedules. This often sacrifices the thoroughness of pilot tests, experimental censuses, or post-enumeration survey surveys, increasing the risk of significantly affecting the quality, coverage, and evaluation of census results.

Furthermore, the 2020 round of censuses faces new challenges related to the development of management control systems for mixed methods (online, telephone, or in-person census); increased investment in technological infrastructure and information security; the development of mixed training systems, combining in-person and virtual methods; as well as partially redoing cartographic updates made in the late 2010s for the originally planned censuses in 2020. Strengthening communication strategies is also necessary due to the growing importance of social media; any failure during the census can become 'viral' and harm its results. The new challenges of the pandemic have added to existing challenges in the region, such as difficulties in enumerating areas with higher violence, informal settlements, subnormal clusters, or high-income strata.

Regarding birth and death registration records, countries with less computerized data systems and no contingency plans to ensure the maintenance of the operational system were more affected. In addition to pre-existing difficulties in each country, the pandemic has presented challenges related to the collection of death and birth records due to the closure of registry offices in several countries during critical months (further compounded by the region's digital divide and the inability of a portion of the population to register online). In a context of overloaded health systems, registration in healthcare facilities can also be affected. Additionally, there may be an increase in the underregistration of life events by the population due to the risk of contracting the virus.

Considering these and other challenges in data production and the subsequent estimation of the current population in countries of the region, the Network of Projections and Demographic Data Production (ProDatos) of the Latin American Population Association (ALAP) proposes a workshop to discuss the challenges and lessons learned for population estimates in recent times. The workshop will also teach some techniques using the R software for the evaluation and analysis of population data, as well as techniques for subnational estimations in contexts of incomplete data.

Total number of participants: 45 people
Organizers: IBGE, ALAP-ProDatos, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, CEPAL, INE-Chile, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba-Argentina.
Sponsors: IBGE, University of Southern Denmark
Date: November 21th to 24th, from 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM.

Call for papers

The IBGE, the Interdisciplinary Centre on Population Dynamics at the University of Southern Denmark, in collaboration with the ProDatos Network of ALAP, CELADE, LSHTM, INE-Chile and UNC-Argentina, are organizing the international workshop "Population Estimates and the 2020 Census Round: Challenges and Lessons Learned in Times of Pandemic." Academics of all ranks, including master's and doctoral students, as well as postdoctoral fellows, are invited to participate and present research on demographic components in Latin America, the challenges of estimating them, and the challenges and lessons learned in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. The four-day international workshop will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with local organization led by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).

The event will focus on topics related to population censuses in Latin America; population estimates, mortality, fertility, and migration trends in the region; modeling and forecasting inequality in mortality, and methodological innovation in population estimation research. The workshop is interdisciplinary, and presentations from various disciplines and fields of research will be considered. One day of the event will be dedicated to a practical workshop on data visualization for demographic research using R. The languages of the workshop are Spanish, Portuguese, and English.

Brief description of the practical workshop

The aim is to train participants in the flexibility provided by the R+tidyverse framework for data visualization. The course covers some aspects of data visualization theory and provides examples of best and worst practices, but it is mainly focused on practical application and the use of demographic data examples. The sessions will combine moments of code production/generation with short lectures/presentations.

Instructions for the presentation

  1. All submissions must be in MS Word or PDF format.
  2. The workshop languages are Portuguese, Spanish, and English.
  3. The first page should only contain author information, title, and abstract. The abstract should not exceed 350 words. Contributors should provide their name, affiliation, and contact information.
  4. Working papers and extended abstracts are accepted. Extended abstracts should not exceed 1000 words (~3 pages of A4 size, double-spaced, including references).
  5. Send your proposals via email to  


There is no registration fee. Workshop participants are expected to cover their own accommodation and travel expenses. There is a limited number of scholarships available to partially cover travel or accommodation costs for applicants from Latin America. Please indicate in your application if you require this financial assistance. A light breakfast, coffee, and lunch will be provided throughout the workshop by the sponsors ’organizers.

Important dates

  • Deadline for submission of extended abstracts: October 8, 2023.
  • Notification of accepted papers: October 17.
  • Registration deadline: November 3.
  • International Workshop: November 21 to 24.

For further details, please contact the organizing committee at the email address

Organizing Committee

  • Gabriel Mendes Borges (IBGE)
  • José Manuel Aburto (University of Southern Denmark, LSHTM, University of Oxford)
  • Helena Cruz Castanheira (CELADE/CEPAL)
  • Estefanía Inés Gherra Castellano (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, CONICET-Argentina)
  • Miguel Ojeda (INE-Chile)


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