Centre for Population Change shortlisted for ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize

People crossing street
Researcy by the CPC explores what demographic change means for society and people living in it.

Professor Jane Falkingham and her colleagues from the Centre for Population Change (CPC) have been shortlisted for this year’s 2020 ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize for Outstanding Public Policy Impact.

CPC researchers have improved estimates of the current and future population of the UK, providing national and local policymakers, planners and business with better evidence on which to build policy and plan public services, as well as develop products such as pensions.

“We are delighted that we’ve earned recognition by being shortlisted for this ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize for the many innovations the Centre for Population Change has developed and successfully introduced,” said CPC Director, Professor Jane Falkingham who is also Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Southampton. “Understanding our population – how many people there are, their ages, where they live, who they live with and how they are likely to behave – is critical to government and to business.

“Over the last decade, the CPC team has improved the measurement of demographic change, resulting in more accurate population projections and statistics to support policy, planning and business decisions in the UK.

“Our research also explores what demographic change means for society and people living in it,” she continued. “For example, CPC researchers have looked at the impacts of policy on some of the country’s most vulnerable groups; forecasting, for example, that the number of unpaid carers in the UK will rise from 7 million to over 10 million by 2050. Highlighting the growing importance of unpaid carers and their role in supporting older people to remain living independently in the community draws attention to the need for appropriate employer and policymaker response.”

From its outset, CPC researchers have worked closely with the ONS to ensure their work addresses the most relevant policy topics. As a result, recent research has focused quickly on the complex problems posed by COVID-19, offering timely evidence on issues as wide-ranging as the virus’s impact on existing socio-economic inequalities to the positive benefits of lockdown for parent-child relationships.

The CPC team have also led in the development of more effective estimates of excess mortality due to COVID-19. Their estimates take account of changing population structures and long-term trends in mortality. More accurate estimation is crucial in determining the effect of the present pandemic and its differing impacts within the population, and CPC is working closely with ONS to ensure the methods are applied.

Centre researchers have worked with the ONS to develop better measures of the three drivers of population change – fertility, mortality and migration – with CPC’s population projections and estimates related to these areas being used to:

  • Improve fertility estimation for local authorities, creating a better means to predict demand for key services such as school places, including nursery and early years learning, as well as maternity services;
  • Develop new methodology for estimating life expectancy at older ages which has informed the way pension, life and health insurance products are priced as well as helping people better plan their pension and care needs;
  • Reintroduce post-study work visas for international students following a CPC, ONS and Universities UK collaboration that helped to revise inaccurate figures on international student out-migration, improve understanding of student mobility and allay concerns about non-compliance with student visas;

To date, CPC has informed population-relevant discussions at more than 90 events with civil servants and policy-makers in government and local authorities, delivered 77 policy briefings, and produced 59 reports with, and for, intergovernmental organisations including the United Nations, government and European departments, local councils and charities.

The Centre for Population Change is funded by the ESRC and a is partnership between the Universities of Southampton, St. Andrews, and Stirling, in collaboration with the Office for National Statistics and the National Records of Scotland.

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