NIC examines impact of population change on future infrastructure demand

The National Infrastructure Commission has just published the second paper in a series which explores factors affecting infrastructure supply and demand, to inform the National Infrastructure Assessment. The paper, The impact of population change and demography on future infrastructure demand, can be downloaded here

The National Infrastructure Commission has been tasked with putting together a National Infrastructure Assessment once a parliament. This discussion paper, focused on population and demography, forms part of a series looking at the drivers of future infrastructure supply and demand in the UK. Its conclusions are designed to aid the Commission in putting together plausible scenarios out to 2050.

The National Infrastructure Assessment will analyse the UK’s long-term economic infrastructure needs, outline a strategic vision over a 30-year time horizon and set out recommendations for how identified needs should begin to be met. It will cover transport, digital, energy, water and wastewater, flood risk and solid waste, assessing the infrastructure system as a whole. It will look across sectors, identifying and exploring the most important interdependencies.

This raises significant forecasting challenges. The Assessment will consider a range of scenarios to help understand how the UK’s infrastructure requirements could change in response to different assumptions about the future. The scenarios will be based on available empirical evidence about past trends and quantitative and qualitative forecasts of changes in four key drivers of infrastructure services: the economy, population and demography, climate and environment, and technology.

An important objective for the NIC’s analysis of population and demographic change is to inform the inputs to be used in its forecasting scenarios in respect of population growth and associated factors such as household size. The starting point for the population and demography inputs into these scenarios are Office for National Statistics UK population projections.

The Commission would welcome comments on this discussion paper. In particular, references to further sources of evidence on these issues would be helpful. Any comments should be sent to by 10 February 2017.

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