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Bayesian Agent-Based Population Studies


International migration is one of the most uncertain components of population change and a top-priority area for policy. The aim of the project is to develop a ground-breaking simulation model of international migration, based on a population of intelligent, cognitive agents, their social networks and institutions, all interacting with one another. We want to change the way in which migration can be understood, predicted, and managed by effectively integrating behavioural and social theory with modelling.


To develop micro-foundations for migration studies, model design will follow cutting-edge developments in demography, statistics, cognitive psychology and computer science. BAPS will also offer a pioneering environment for applying the findings in practice through a bespoke modelling language. Bayesian statistical principles will be used to design innovative computer experiments and learn about modelling the simulated individuals, as well as the way they make decisions.


In the project, we will collate available information for migration models; build and test the simulations by applying experimental design principles to enhance our knowledge of migration processes; collect information on the underpinning decision-making mechanisms through psychological experiments; and design software for implementing Bayesian agent-based models in practice. The project will use various information sources to build models bottom-up, filling an important epistemological gap in demography.


BAPS is led by Prof. Jakub Bijak, the Allianz European Demographer 2015, recognised as a leader in the field for methodological innovation, directing an interdisciplinary team with expertise in demography, agent-based models, statistical analysis of uncertainty, meta-cognition, and computer simulations.

The project will consist of five work packages:

WP1. Inventory: Case study, data, methods and their assessments (June 2017 - January 2022)

WP2. Design: Experimental design for agent-based models (June 2018 - May 2022)

WP3. Experiments: Cognitive agents and decision making (June 2018 - May 2022)

WP4. Formalisms: Towards a domain-specific modelling language (August 2018 - May 2022)

WP5. Dissemination: academic and policy audiences and the general public (throughout the project)