Research Programme


Developing a dynamic population model for the UK

James RaymerPeter W F SmithJonathan J ForsterJakub BijakGuy Abel, Arkadiusz WiƛniowskiHan lin Shang


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.

Output highlights

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, Office for National Statistics.

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 time’, Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A, vol 173 (4), 733-753.

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 17:73-88.