National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

User guidance

User guidance

Support for producing small area projections

NRS have been supporting users interested in producing small area projections to inform planning and service delivery at local level. This has included work in the following areas to both build capacity of users and sustain the provision of small area projections.

  • Guidance on producing sub-council area demographic projections
  • Data management
  • Training
  • Support for the production of a standard set of sub-council area demographic projections

This work is taking place throughout 2019-20 and further updates will be published on this page.

2016 Guidance

Guidance for Sub-Council Area Projections in Scotland using POPGROUP v4.0 software (Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF) 3.09Mb)

This document on how to use POPGROUP V4.0 to produce Sub-Council Area Projections (SCAP) in Scotland has been created as the result of a project funded by the Scottish Government Statistics Development Fund to produce and evaluate a set of projections for 301 small areas in Scotland. The National Records of Scotland (NRS) SCAP project was a one-off investigation running from June 2015 to March 2016. The work was undertaken consulting a sub group of the Population and Migration Statistics (PAMS) Committee, the Projections Sub Group and information about this project was published on the NRS website.

This work built upon a previous project in 2010, which looked at producing small area projections using POPGROUP software for Fife Council area.

Template files for use with guidance above
Template file to calculate age-specific migration rates (Excel 8.82 Mb)
Template file to calculate counts of migrants by 5 year age group (Excel 2.84 Mb)

2010 Research and Guidance

In 2010, NRS carried out research with Professor Ludi Simpson from the Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research (CCSR) at the University of Manchester into the demographic data needed to allow councils and health boards to produce population projections at small area level using data zones as building blocks. This research investigated the effect of including detailed demographic data, such as ‘age of mother’ for fertility rates, on the population projections, and what data could be made available to ensure the most robust results possible at small area level.

The research findings give details of the work carried out and the outcomes of the investigation. The recommended data requirements for the production of small area population projections are also available.

As part of this project NRS and CCSR produced guidance for council and NHS board areas who need to run population projections for small areas, which may still be of use. The guidance was written for users of POPGROUP but can be adapted for other suitable software. Guidance is also available for small area household projections using HOUSEGROUP and Derived Forecasts.

User guidance for small area projections


In order to run population projections it is necessary to have the appropriate software package. NRS, along with a number of local authorities, uses POPGROUP software to produce population and household projections for sub-national areas of Scotland. POPGROUP is an Excel-based system developed by the Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research (CCSR) at the University of Manchester that uses standard demographic methods to generate projections.    

A group has been set up to allow POPGROUP users in Scotland to meet and share knowledge and experiences.

POPGROUP User Group (PUG) (Scotland) Meetings

Enquiries and Suggestions

Please contact our Customer Services if you need any further information.

If you have comments or suggestions that would help us improve our outputs or our standards of service, contact:  

Alan Ferrier,
Senior Statistician, National Records of Scotland,
Room 1/2/12, Ladywell House, Ladywell Road, Edinburgh. EH12 7TF.
Telephone: (0131) 314 4530

All statistical publications