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The collection, analysis and transmission of population policy data at the United Nations Secretariat.
In: International transmission of population policy experience. Proceedings of the Expert Group Meeting on the International Transmission of Population Policy Experience, New York City, 27-30 June 1988, [compiled by] United Nations. Department of International Economic and Social Affairs. Population Division. New York, New York, United Nations, 1990. 21-39. (ST/ESA/SER.R/108)In order to illuminate the complex process of population policy research, this article describes how the UN Secretariat collects, analyzes, and transmits population policy data. The role of conducting population policy research falls under the UN's Population Commission and its substantiative secretariat, the Population Division of the Department of International Economic and Social Affairs. Providing a historical background, the article explains the gradual development of consensus as to the proper role of the UN with regards to population policy. While in 1948 the UN mandated the Population Commission to "arrange for studies and advise" on "policies designed to influence the size and structure of populations and changes therein," it was not until the late 1960s when population policy became a pressing issue. The paper goes on to detail the process of population policy research. Data collection depends on a combination of 2 factors: the number of countries or units of analysis and the specific issues under consideration. The paper explains that the Population Commission collects its data from 4 general sources: 1)government documents, intergovernmental documents, nongovernmental documents, and UN inquiries. Over the past 40 years, the Commission has developed 4 implicit principles concerning the analysis of data. The analysis should be neutral, comprehensive, global, and effective. In order to transmit population policy research, the Commission employs 3 major avenues: 1)UN published reports, documents, studies, etc.; 2: conferences, meetings, seminars, etc.; and 3)computer files. Following the description of the search process, the paper discusses key issues and concerns over this process. Examples of such concerns include the validity of results, issues of consistency and reliability, problems of definition, and the classification of government.