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Policy Insights

Start with Science


Demographic policies can be thorny. Fam­ily policy is strongly linked with culture, and so easily and often politicised. Migra­tion quickly gives way to questions of iden­tity and economic uncertainty in a global­ising world. Yet both are complex and can take years to bear fruit. They require a strong foundation in scientific expertise— not ideological preferences for one model of living over another.

To be sure, demographers are not immune from ideological persuasion. But a good demographer, like any good scientist, will have the strength of will and faith in the scientific method to accept results that do not agree with their worldview. Open dis­cussion, peer review, international com­parisons, and work in teams—especially international teams—are essential best practices here that should be fostered at every opportunity.

Policymakers should follow suit. Whether politicians, functionaries or stakehold­ers, they should be ready to accept diffi­cult realities, work cooperatively, debate openly, invite scrutiny, and develop in­novative solutions to today’s demographic challenges. In other words, they should base their work on scientific best practices as well as scientific knowledge. It will make their contribution, and the democratic pro­cess, much more meaningful.

Janina Jóźwiak (+), Warsaw School of Economics, Poland