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Mapping the future: The ONS reviews its publication timetable
The ONS have just published its response to a consultation on the future timescale and methodology for national population projections (NPPs) and subnational population projections (SNPPs). The last projections were based on 2018 data and were published in October 2019. It will be recalled that these were of importance in the world of complex injury in that they served to depress life-time losses due to a flattening of the previously-projected increase in life expectancy. These new projections served to reduce life-time multipliers and whilst limited, provided some counterbalance to the reduction in the discount rate.
The ONS have wrestled with how to deal with the next projections (not just life expectancy) due at the end of this year for 2020, given the impact of Covid-19 and the aftermath that needs to “unwind” over time. There is also the need to reflect the outcome of the 2021 census that has just been completed. This was the trigger for the consultation.
The report has decided upon the following structure:
- A principal national population projection will be published for each UK constituent country and for the UK as a whole, with no variant projections .These will be published in December 2021 and be titled ‘2020-based interim national population projections’ using an updated set of demographic assumptions.
- After the 2020-based interim NPPs, they propose the next round of NPPs will be published in the period winter 2022 to 2023, using 2021 Census data and to include projection variants. (This is not a definitive policy and there are no exact timings. Provisional first results from the Scottish Census are due to be made available in spring 2023 and will be incorporated in a subsequent round of the NPPs.
- Decisions on future timescales for the subnational population projections (SNPPs) and household projections will be taken separately by the ONS, NRS, NISRA and the WG. These will be informed by user feedback to this engagement exercise as well as local user engagements, which may have taken place in each country.
What does this mean?
- On the original structure we would have expected conventional projections for 2020 to be published in October 2021 to update those from 2018. However the publication will not fully reflect the impact of the pandemic.
- The major publication that will build in the pandemic will then come at an unspecified date from the end of 2022 to 2023, and this will reflect both the census and projection variants.
It will be a matter for the actuaries to decide whether to “bake in” the interim 2021 publication or to wait for what could be around a year and half to be able to reflect with more accuracy the seismic effect of the pandemic on not only life expectancy but also other relevant statistical indices.
It remains speculative (from everything we read in the press) as to what degree life expectancy looks set to be depressed long-term, even with a vaccination programme. Given the global nature of the problem and the risks from new variants, the impact on the economy both nationally and regionally looks grim, but the harder numbers might not appear until 2023.
The report can be found here.
For more information, please contact, Ken Young, Head of Complex and CAT PI.