Research Programme

Developing a dynamic population model for the UK

James RaymerPeter W. F. SmithJon ForsterJakub BijakGuy Abel, Arek WiƛniowskiHan lin Shang

Project summary

The overall aim of the dynamic population modelling project is to develop a general and flexible platform for modelling and analysing population change over time. The core activity of this strand has been the development of Bayesian methods for the statistical modelling and forecasting of population change. This was started by building simple models for overall population growth rates before moving on to more complex ones that included demographic components, age and multiregional populations. The statistical modelling techniques have focused primarily on time series methods for dealing with correlations both over time and across regions and components.


A key contribution of this work is the assessment of the importance of model specification, expert opinion, model averaging and uncertainty in population models. The modelling team has been very active in engaging with ONS to improve their methods for population and migration estimation and have also collaborated with CPC Scotland to develop environmental migration forecasts for the UK.

Two commissioned reports were written for ONS, and members of the team also worked with them to develop general strategies for measuring uncertainty in the population, internal migration and international migration estimates under the S3RI contract. Furthermore, two commissioned reports were written for the Government Office for Science.

The modelling strand has also developed an overlapping generations computable general equilibrium (OLG CGE) model for Scotland.

Project activities

Date Activity Description
14 November 2013

'Quantifying paradigm change in demography' Chaire Quetelet 2013, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Conference presentation by Jakub Bijak
29 October 2013  'Bayesian functional models for population forecasting', Joint Eurostat/UNECE work session on demographic projections in cooperation with ISTAT, Rome, Italy Conference presentation
25 September 2013 'The decision to emigrate: Agent-based modeling of international migration', workshop organised by the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and the EPSRC Care Life Cycle project, Rostcok, Germany Jakub Bijak and James Raymer presented at this three-day conference
2 September 2013 Royal Statistical Society 2013 annual conference, Newcastle Hanlin Shang presented and diasplayed a poster on 'A functional data analytic approach for forecasting population size: A case study of United Kingdom' and 'Bayesian bandwidth estimation for a nonparametric functional regression model with mixed types of data and unknown error density'
3 August 2013 2013 Joint Statistical Meetings The CPC modelling strand attended to present findings on Bayesian Modeling of Populations
23 June 2013

33rd International Symposium on Forecasting

Hanlin Shang attended to present CPC research
29 May 2013

IGU Conference 2013: Applied GIS and Spatial Modelling, Leeds

Arek Wisniowski attended
30 January 2013 Postgraduate Open Day Research Showcase Work on the CPC modelling strand shown through poster presentaiton by Han Lin Shang
25 May 2011 IMEM Workshop: Overcoming measurement differences and missing data to estimate international migration flows in Europe Three-day workshop organised by the CPC modelling strand
5 July 2010 Population projects and modelling Lecture as part of the ESRC Research Methods Festival





















Raymer, J., Smith, P.W.F. and Giulietti, C. (2011), Combining census and registration data to analyse ethnic migration patterns in England from 1991 to 2007
Population, Space and Place, 17(1), 73-88.

Abel, G.J., Bijak, J. and Raymer, J. (2010), A comparison of official population projections with Bayesian time series forecasts for England and Wales
Population Trends, 141, 95-114.

De Beer, J., Raymer, J., van der Erf, R. and van Wissen, L. (2010), Overcoming the problems of inconsistent international migration data: A new method applied to flows in Europe
European Journal of Population, 26 (4), 459-481.

Smith, P.W.F., Raymer, J. and Giulietti, C. (2010) Combining available migration data in England to study economic activity flows over timeJournal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A, 173 (4), 733-753. 

Media coverage

Population density
BBC Wales Radio, 6 November 2013

Guernsey's lack of census leaves demographic uncertainty
BBC News Guernsey, 5 March 2012

World population growth
Channel 4 News,  26 October 2011

You can also browse population-related articles from CPC members on our! page.