07 April 2017 - 11 April 2017
Shanghai, China

Modelling and projecting sub-national population trends

IIASA, the Asian Demographic Research Institute, and the Wittgenstein Center (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU) are organizing a series of workshops on modelling and projections.

Wittgenstein Summer School 2016 © Heike Barakat

Wittgenstein Summer School 2016 © Heike Barakat

This IIASA/Asian Demographic Research Institute (ADRI) training workshop focuses on the analysis of recent trends in sub-national (provincial) populations stratified by age, sex, education and urban/rural place of residence, and develop alternative scenarios for the future following the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP) narratives and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) scenarios. This workshop will be the first in a series and focus initially on the following 8 countries: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Nepal, Philippines and Thailand. Starting with the analysis of census and relevant survey data, the scenarios will be developed jointly with national experts, and calculated and published in peer reviewed outlets.

Lead by IIASA researchers Samir KC, Markus Wurzer and Markus Speringer, the workshop will be held at ADRI, Shanghai University between 7-11 April, 2017 and will be divided in two parts. The first part will be dedicated to a discussion of data reliability, completeness, consistency etc. Participants from each country will present their case and will prepare a list of country-specific data issues and possible solution. The second part will include an introduction to the methods of multi-dimensional demographic analysis using the R-codes developed at IIASA/ADRI. While we will use India as a case study for demonstration, depending on data readiness participants are welcome and encouraged to use their own data. By the end of the workshop, we expect that the participants can independently implement the R-codes and more importantly develop a strong network with other participants.

The results are expected to be of high policy relevance for national and sub-national planning in the countries concerned. After the workshop participants will be able to perform such projections independently in the future. On a long term, we will continue to work with the country teams in developing the national, SSP and SDG narratives. Participants are encouraged to visit our team at the ADRI at IIASA and vice-versa if needed. This collaboration will help identify and solve issues related to data and methods, and will be the basis to reconvene in a Second Workshop to present and discuss first results within the next one year. 


Understanding population dynamics and heterogeneity within a country provides important insights for explaining social and environmental changes and helps identify vulnerable sections of the population that are affected most by these changes. Population projections assist policy makers and other stakeholders in visualizing an alternative future, to assess what-if scenarios, or to simulate sensitivity tests of single or multiple variables. 

The basis for population analysis and setting targets is the maintenance of data collected through censuses, surveys and other data sources, such as tables and/or microdata, that are available from the National Statistical Offices. The quality and frequency of the data collection varies largely between countries making it difficult to conduct cross-country comparisons and predict the future population development. In addition, non-governmental international organizations and institutions maintain and project national level and cross-country population dynamics data, for e.g. the estimates and projections by age and sex of the United Nations, and by age, sex, and educational attainment of the Wittgenstein Center for Demography and Global human Capital (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU). These institutes have their own methods that are largely consistent between countries and often the best option available. The downside of such extensive cross-country projections is that they employ a top-down approach that largely ignores what is happening in the country (local knowledge and expertise) and lack local ownership making them less popular among local users either for national level studies or at sub-national levels. 

The incomparability of data produced by national statistical agencies due to quality issues and differing methods and the moderate use of data produced by international agencies that apply a supra-national approach motivated researchers at Wittgenstein Center (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU), and the Asian Demographic Research Institute (ADRI) to develop a consistent multi-dimensional/multi-state models for studying population dynamics across and within countries by collaborating with local partner institutions. 


In recent years, a team at IIASA's World Population Program and the Wittgenstein Center (IIASA, VID/ÖAW, WU) have produced global level population projections by age, sex, and educational attainment, and projections for the SSPs for climate change research. the created data set that is freely available in Lutz, Butz, and KC 2014; KC and Lutz 2014, and the Wittgenstein Center Data Explorer. At the sub-national level, IIASA researchers have completed the projections by age, sex, and educational attainment for the rural/urban population in 35 Indian States and are currently completing the SSP narratives, which serve as a pilot project for other countries. The methods and findings were presented at international demographic conferences and are currently documented in working papers and international peer-reviewed journals. In addition, packages of the models developed in R will be shared  with a broad audience.  

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Last edited: 07 March 2017


Samir K.C.

Project Leader

World Population

T +43(0) 2236 807 424

Research at the World Population Program

IIASA Human Capital Projections

Wittgenstein Centre Data Explorer

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313