In 1956, the United Nations, the Government of India and the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, jointly established the Institute to serve as a regional center for teaching, training and conducting research in the area of population studies in the ESCAP region. Prior to 1970, the IIPS was popularly known as Demographic Training and Research Centre (DTRC). It was declared as a deemed university on August 15, 1985. The Institute is an autonomous institution under the administrative control of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. It also offers academic courses to strengthen the reproductive health, research and training programmes and provides consultancy to government and non-governmental organizations and other academic institutions.
The IIPS has helped in building a nucleus of professionals in the field of population and health in various countries in the ESCAP region. During the past 50 years, students from 42 different countries of Asia and the Pacific region, Africa, and North America have been trained at the Institute. Many, who are trained at the Institute, now occupy key positions in the field of population and health in governments of various countries, universities and research institutes as well as in reputed national and international organizations.