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Demographic projection software becomes industry standard

Population projection software has become an increasingly essential tool in planning and policy formulation within the UK, and our software POPGROUP has become the industry standard for local planning.

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POPGROUP is used by local authorities for strategic planning and to meet demand for services.

Our researchers developed a novel software package called POPGROUP that generates local population projections to support local authority and public agency strategic planning (eg house building, National Park visitor numbers).

POPGROUP is used by local authorities for strategic planning and to meet demand for services. The commercial sector is increasingly using this powerful software too.

The number of organisations using the software has increased from 40 in 2008, to 111 in July 2013. POPGROUP users include local and national governments, health agencies, commercial planning companies and universities.

The software is tailored to each user’s context, forecasting population, households and the labour force for different areas and social groups.

Key achievements and benefits

  • Adopted by the Local Government Association in 2010.
  • Used in 81 local authorities in the UK.
  • Addresses the UK Government’s ‘National Planning Policy Framework’ (2012) that requires every local authority to make a ‘Strategic Housing Market Assessment’, supported by robust demographic projections.
  • Used by national statistical agencies for their sub-national demographic forecasts.
  • Purchased by six commercial companies who provide advice on UK housing development.
  • Used by 18 participants in POPGROUP training during 2013.
  • Included in a review of three demographic software packages by the Latin American Population Association.
  • Used by the United States Census Bureau, and by individuals and groups in Finland, Singapore and Malaysia.

Our research

POPGROUP was developed out of collaborative research, undertaken in the late 1990s, by The University of Manchester and Bradford City Council.

Our demographic projection methods improved the use of cohort component models (which use information on fertility, migration and mortality trends within age-sex cohorts) for strategic planning, through better integration of population estimates within demographic projections.

POPGROUP’s innovative methodologies include the incorporation of the mathematical equivalence of social groups and geographical areas; this technique satisfies the long standing need for local area forecasting and the growing interest in the social dimensions of population dynamics (especially the links between population dynamics and ethnic diversity and mobility). The translation of migrants into households is a key algorithm within the tool.

In 2010 POPGROUP released a generalised derived forecast model, that accommodates forecasts of any population characteristic related to age and sex, including households and labour force.
The tool is based on the popular Excel spreadsheet; it offers robust statistical calculations, yet does not require any specialist software training.

Key people