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  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2022

Towards Bayesian Model-Based Demography

Agency, Complexity and Uncertainty in Migration Studies


  • Presents a ground-breaking agent-based simulation model of migration

  • Connects behavioural and social theory with modelling and statistics

  • This book is available open access and free to read online

  • Discusses the building of a simulation model of migration

Part of the book series: Methodos Series (METH, volume 17)

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Table of contents (11 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xxv
  2. Preliminaries

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 1-1
    2. Introduction

      • Jakub Bijak
      Pages 3-11
  3. Elements of the Modelling Process

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 31-31
    2. Building a Knowledge Base for the Model

      • Sarah Nurse, Jakub Bijak
      Pages 51-70
    3. The Boundaries of Cognition and Decision Making

      • Toby Prike, Philip A. Higham, Jakub Bijak
      Pages 93-112
    4. Agent-Based Modelling and Simulation with Domain-Specific Languages

      • Oliver Reinhardt, Tom Warnke, Adelinde M. Uhrmacher
      Pages 113-134
  4. Model Results, Applications, and Reflections

    1. Front Matter

      Pages 135-135
    2. Towards More Realistic Models

      • Martin Hinsch, Jakub Bijak, Jason Hilton
      Pages 137-154
    3. Bayesian Model-Based Approach: Impact on Science and Policy

      • Jakub Bijak, Martin Hinsch, Sarah Nurse, Toby Prike, Oliver Reinhardt
      Pages 155-174
    4. Conclusions: Towards a Bayesian Modelling Process

      • Jakub Bijak, Peter W. F. Smith
      Pages 185-192
  5. Back Matter

    Pages 193-263

About this book

This open access book presents a ground-breaking approach to developing micro-foundations for demography and migration studies. It offers a unique and novel methodology for creating empirically grounded agent-based models of international migration – one of the most uncertain population processes and a top-priority policy area. The book discusses in detail the process of building a simulation model of migration, based on a population of intelligent, cognitive agents, their networks and institutions, all interacting with one another. The proposed model-based approach integrates behavioural and social theory with formal modelling, by embedding the interdisciplinary modelling process within a wider inductive framework based on the Bayesian statistical reasoning. Principles of uncertainty quantification are used to devise innovative computer-based simulations, and to learn about modelling the simulated individuals and the way they make decisions. The identified knowledge gaps are subsequently filled with information from dedicated laboratory experiments on cognitive aspects of human decision-making under uncertainty. In this way, the models are built iteratively, from the bottom up, filling an important epistemological gap in migration studies, and social sciences more broadly.


  • Open access
  • Agent-based modelling
  • Bayesian demography
  • Migration modelling
  • Model-based approaches
  • Uncertainty quantification
  • Forced migration
  • Computational experiments
  • Model calibration and sensitivity
  • Free access

Authors and Affiliations

  • Social Statistics & Demography, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

    Jakub Bijak

About the author

Jakub Bijak is Professor of Statistical Demography at the University of Southampton. He has background in economics (PhD 2008, Warsaw School of Economics) and over 20 years’ work experience in academia and international civil service. His research focuses on demographic uncertainty, population and migration models and forecasts, and the demography of armed conflict. He has been awarded the Allianz European Demographer Award (2015) and the Jerzy Z Holzer Medal (2007) for work on migration modelling. Leader of a European Research Council project “Bayesian agent-based population studies” (, and a Horizon 2020 project “QuantMig: Quantifying Migration Scenarios for Better Policy” (

Bibliographic Information

Buying options

Softcover Book USD 49.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)