Dr. Mercedes B. Concepcion is a recognized pioneer in three social science disciplines— sociology, demography, and statistics. Her body of work as an academic/scholar and as an institution-builder has earned her the title of National Scientist, the highest distinction bestowed to Filipino scientists by the Philippine government. In 2005, the United Nations also conferred on Dr. Concepcion the UN Population Award for her notable contributions to population research and policy.
Dr. Concepcion is the first to undertake research and write on demographic trends, challenges, and policies in the Philippines. Her expertise in the field was duly recognized when in 1964, the Vatican invited her to be a member of the Birth Control Commission which studied problems of population and birth control. She was one of the two Asian members of the special committee whose work consequently resulted in the promulgation of the encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968. Her authoritative work has also led to her appointment in a number of international bodies. She was the first Philippine representative to the UN Population Commission, first woman chair of the UN Population Commission, and first Asian woman elected as President of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population.
Dr. Concepcion is also a key figure in Philippine statistics. She chaired the review of the Philippine statistical system, which resulted in the creation of the National Statistical Coordination Board as well as the reorganization of statistical agencies such as the National Statistics Office, Statistical Research and Training Center, Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, and Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics.
Dr. Concepcion’s primary affiliation was the University of the Philippines where she served as founding director of the University of the Philippines Population Institute. The Population Institute is now recognized as one of the leading research and training centers for population issues. Dr. Concepcion retired from university as Professor Emeritus of the UP College of Social Sciences and Philosophy and was later given the Distinguished Alumna Award by the UP Alumni Association for her professional achievements.
Dr. Concepcion also worked for the advancement of the Philippine social sciences. She is one of the founding members of the Philippine Social Science Council and served as its first Chairperson. She remains an active member of the Philippine Sociological Society, Philippine Statistical Association, and Philippine Population Association.