The Department of Demography and Social Statistics is a child of transitional changes borne out of imperative necessity to meet up with the challenges of Population Studies. The Department was not originally designed as an academic department for training of undergraduates but as a research centre devoted to scholarly research in population and related fields. At the time, it was known as the Demographic Research and Training Unit. The creation of the Unit was made possible by a grant from the Population Council of New York to the then University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University). Through the grant, the first national survey research on fertility, family size and family planning was conducted. From the grant also, a separate “Population Studies Centre” was to be built.

However the grant was used to supplement the cost of building the present Faculty of Social Sciences. The Demographic Research and Training Unit was later converted into a full Institute of Population and Manpower Studies (IPMS) and a separate Department of Sociology and Demography was set up in 1972/73 session in what was Faculty of Economics and Social Studies. This latter Department was finally changed to the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. The IPMS was able to expand the scope of research through the recruitment of additional staff in the areas of Manpower Economics and Economic Demography to complement the Demographers and Social Statisticians. During this period, a full postgraduate programme at M.Sc. level was developed and approved for the Institute of Population and Manpower Studies.

During 1975/1976 session, there was a change in the Vice-Chancellor of the University. The new Vice Chancellor, through administrative fiat, changed almost all the Institutes in the University to either a Faculty or a Department. That was the time the Institute of Administration became Faculty of Administration and the Institute of Population and Manpower Studies became Department of Demography and Social Statistics. The first intake of students for the undergraduate programme started by 1976/77 academic session.

In terms of academic and research standard, the Department is recognised for excellence by various International and National Agencies, Universities in Europe, America and other continents. Although population issues are fragmentally studied by other related disciplines like Sociology, Economics, Geography and Public Health, this Department was for almost 30 years (until 2005), the only department that is entirely devoted to demographic studies in Nigeria. Currently (2017/2018 academic session), the Department has about 500 undergraduate and 80 postgraduate students. The Departmental curriculum is periodically reviewed to meet up with emerging and current challenges.