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Book CoverPopulation Dynamics and Projection Methods: Understanding Population Trends and Processes, Vol. 4

John Stillwell, Martin Clarke

Although the human population growth rate of the world has been  declining since peaking in the early 1960s, the populations of individual countries are changing at different rates.  Population dynamics at national level are partly determined by levels of fertility and mortality, but the impact of international migration is playing an increasingly important role. Moreover, internal migration plays a major part in population change at the sub-national level. This fourth volume in the series “Understanding Population Trends and Processes” is a celebration of the work of Professor Philip Rees. It contains chapters by contributors who have collaborated with Phil Rees on research or consultancy projects or as postgraduate students. Several chapters demonstrate the technical nature of population projection modelling and simulation methods while others illustrate issues relating to data availability and estimation. This book demonstrates the application of theoretical and modelling methods and addresses key issues relating to contemporary demographic patterns and trends.

Good understanding of contemporary demographic structure and population dynamics underpins effective planning and decision making for the future. One of the key contributors to the development of a range of population projection methodologies over the past 40 years is Professor Philip Rees at the University of Leeds. This book contains an eclectic range of methodological and substantive contributions by a number of eminent researchers in the fields of population geography and demography that were presented at a symposium in July 2009 to honour Philip Rees’ retirement. Different macro and micro approaches for estimating and projecting populations are reviewed, trends in the components of change in the UK (births, deaths and migration) are presented, international comparisons of internal migration are drawn, impacts of population ageing are considered and a new perspective on understanding urban evolution is offered. All these themes are interconnected in one way or another but the key dimension of linkage in this particular volume is that, collectively, they represent a compendium of Phil’s research interests and the celebration of a lifetime of commitment to undertaking meticulous analytical research, developing innovative modelling methods and enhancing knowledge in population geography and spatial demography.

Demographers have always been interested in change and have wrestled with the demands of policy makers to inform them about the future of national and sub-national populations and their productive capability or destructive potential. Chapter 1 of the book, by Philip Rees himself, considers the dynamics of global population change by reviewing the projections of world population development over the next 90 years and the regional differences that will become apparent under the assumptions adopted by the major projection agencies.

In the 1970s, Philip Rees pioneered multistate demographic accounts involving tables of flows that are moves/transitions between states. The population covered by an account, the age-time framework, the observation window and the states distinguished define the boundary of an account which provides a framework for the measurement of flows and the estimation of flows when data are incomplete. An account-based model provides a framework for combining flows and stocks in a consistent manner. A major aim in the development of accounts is that the data are valid (i.e. measure what they are supposed to measure), reliable and timely. Chapter 2 by Frans Willekens presents the major principles of multistate demographic accounting developed by Philip Rees and extended by his team and others. It incorporates some aspects of multistate modelling in survival analysis. The account that results includes population flows, population stocks and durations of exposure and is a basis for the estimation of transition rates and probabilities for demographic modelling (life tables and projections).

MULTIPOLES, which simultaneously models population change in countries and regions and takes into account international migration between as well as from the ‘rest of the world’, is explained in Chapter 3 where an application of the model to forecast the elderly population of countries in central and eastern Europe is also presented. Chapter 4 by Tom Wilson describes the model, assumptions and projection outputs from the official New South Wales Government 2008 release population projections. The model, the New South Wales Demographic Simulation System (NEWDSS), incorporates directional migration modelling and produces projections at three geographical scales: (i) New South Wales and the rest of Australia; (ii) major regions of the State; and (iii) Statistical Local Areas. The system utilises movement accounts-based projection models at the State and regional scales and a transition accounts-based model at the local area scale. One of the innovative feature of NEWDSS is the way the local area transition accounts-based model uses migration probabilities based on census data but, to simplify assumption-setting, constrains the projections to net movement assumptions. Projected population accounts at this scale are then presented in the form of movement accounts to ease understanding by non-technical users. The chapter describes the principal aspects of the model, provides an overview of how the projection assumptions were prepared and discusses some of practical issues which arise in preparing local area projections. Key aspects of the demographic future of New South Wales for the period 2006–2036 are presented.

In contrast to the first five chapters of the book which outline alternative approaches to projection and demonstrate projection methods used in different contexts, the next three chapters concentrate on specific components of population change: fertility, mortality and migration. In Chapter 6, Paul Norman focuses on the relationship between fertility and infant mortality in the United Kingdom and the hypothesis that reductions in fertility are a direct result of falls in infant mortality. Whilst William Brass found little evidence at regional and county level in England and Wales of changing geographies of fertility and child mortality between 1876 and 1928, with no detectable ‘direct influence of child mortality on fertility’ (Brass & Kabir, 1979, p. 86), recent studies of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries show distinct geographic variations in both fertility (Boyle, 2003; Boyle et al., 2007; Tromans et al., 2008) and infant mortality (Norman et al., 2008). Brass’ study framework has been adopted in Chapter 6 for analysis using UK-wide data for local authorities for the period 1981–2006. The results suggest that the relationship between trends in infant mortality and fertility remain unclear and that each of these indicators is influenced by different variables.

Migration is the most uncertain component of population change and the one which requires careful monitoring. The problem is that UK migration statistics, be they on internal or international migration flows, are unacceptably poor for use in monitoring and policy making. There has been a significant outcry for improvement and the Government has responded by establishing programmes of actions and activities to meet the requirements for better data. In this context, the aim of Chapter 6 by John Stillwell, Peter Boden and Adam Dennett, is to review the need for migration statistics and the current predicament over reliable data and then to illustrate some examples of migration information systems that have been developed in an academic environment for different type of users so as to support the monitoring of migration trends over time and better analysis of the changing patterns and complexion of migration.

Cross-national comparisons of demographic indices provide valuable insights into the status and trajectory of different societies. However, whilst demographic indicators such as total fertility rate, life expectancy or total immigration rate are relatively easy to calculate from available data for many countries of the world, indicators of internal migration intensity that are comparable between nations prove more difficult to compute. This is the case for a number of reasons, as Martin Bell and Salut Muhidin establish in Chapter 7, including differences in the way internal migration is defined, in the time intervals over which internal migration is measured and, in particular, in the way in which national territories are divided spatially in different countries. In Chapter 8, Les Mayhew addresses some of the major issues around demographic restructuring that are currently confronting policy makers as they try to establish what the implications of an ageing population will be over the next two decades.

The focus of most chapters of the book is on macro-demographic theories, methods and applications with consideration for particular components of population change or specific sets of sub-national populations. However, there is a huge body of work that has evolved over the last 60 or so years that is based on a building micro models of individual (e.g. person or household) behaviour. In Chapter 9, Mark Birkin and Martin Clarke provide a review of these approaches by tracing the development of microsimulation models from their origins in the late 1950s through to the present time, noting how it was only in the 1970s that geographers (including Phil Rees) embraced the approach and began exploring the application of the models in a spatial setting. They examine issues around population reconstruction within spatial microsimulation, outline some of the issues surrounding household dynamics and consider some of the new developments taking place involving the development of agent-based models and attempts to embed behaviour into these models.

In the final chapter of the book, the focus moves to the evolution of cities as nonlinear dynamical systems. It is known that, in general, for such systems, the step from one period to the next is highly dependent on the initial conditions prevailing at the beginning of the period. The evolution of a city is a sequence of such steps and this kind of evolution is said to be path dependent. It is shown that at any one time, the initial conditions for a city can be characterised by an analogue of DNA. The argument can be applied to a system of cities as well as to a particular city. Urban history, therefore, can be seen as giving an account of the evolution of this DNA in either the intra-urban or the inter-urban case. In this chapter, Alan Wilson and Joel Dearden re-interpret the urban retail model as a model of a system of cities but also with an emphasis on the impact of the evolution of transport systems. An appropriate model is articulated and illustrated by the growth of Chicago in the nineteenth century which offers a new perspective for historical geography and can also be seen as a novel way of modelling population dynamics. The symposium in July 2009 to celebrate Phil’s retirement was attended by past and present colleagues from far and wide (Fig. 2). It is fitting to draw this short introduction to an end with a short poem entitled ‘Working with Phil’ that was penned at the time by Nicole van der Gaag from the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Institute, an organisation with which Phil has had close association over many years. This poem expresses many of the sentiments of Phil’s friends and collaborators. Published by Springer 2011.

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