Professor Philip Rees

Professor Philip Rees


I worked full-time at the University of Leeds from 1970 to 2009 as a teacher and researcher. Between 1970 and 1980, I was a lecturer; from 1980 to 1990 I was promoted to a Reader. In 1990 I was awarded a personal chair and worked as Professor of Population Geography, until October 2009. From November 2009 to October 2017, I worked part-time, supported by research awards as a Research Professor. From November 2017, I have been a visiting Professor Emeritus, still active in research and writing.

During the latter part of my career, my achievements in research and scholarship were recognised through the following awards. In 1995 I was a Hofstee Visiting Fellowship at the Netherlands Inter-disciplinary Demographic Institute and in 1996 a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at University of Adelaide. I have received two awards from the Royal Geographical Society, the Gill Memorial Award in 1996, and the Victoria Medal in 2009. In 1998 I was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy, followed in 2013 by election as Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. In 2004 the Queen awarded me the honour of Commander of the British Empire, mainly for work in creating the system of academic access to census data in the UK, which is world-leading and which has subsequently been opened up to the world.

I continue to contribute to scholarship in the Social Sciences. For example, I am a busy reviewer for more than a dozen journals. Between 2010 and 2016, I served on the Scientific Advisory Panel of the Vienna Institute of Demography. In 2014 I was a member of the UK REF 2014 Sub-Panel that included Geography. In 2013 and again in 2018, I provided a course of lectures on Census Methodology for visiting delegations from the National Statistical Bureau of China. I edit an International Population Studies book series for Routledge. I am currently serving as Convenor of the Social Sciences Panel of the Hong Kong RAE2020. From November 2018 to December 2019, I am working part-time as Editorial Manager for Comparative Population Studies, a journal published by the Bundesinstitut für Bevölkerungsforschung.

Research interests

My recent research has focused on the future of the UK’s populations by ethnicity at national and local scales. This work has involved collaborations with Pia Wohland (Queensland), Paul Norman, Nik Lomax, Stephen Clark, Gordon Mitchell and Adrian McDonald (all Leeds), Rizwan Nawaz (Sheffield). I also collaborate on internal migration research with international colleagues including Martin Bell (Queensland) and Marek Kupiszewski (Polish Academy of Sciences).

A 2007-2010 ESRC award helped us project UK local area populations using baseline data linked to the 2001 census. A Follow-On project enabled us to write journal articles on the methods and results. In 2015-2016, again funded by ESRC, we updated and improved the projections using 2011 Census data. Estimates and future assumptions by ethnicity were made for fertility, mortality, internal migration and international migration. We published on outcomes in book chapters and journals. The results showed that ethnic minority populations will likely grow between two and four times between 2011 and 2061. We explored the implications of ethnic change for health, the labour force and households of Northern England. The results were used to develop estimates of healthy life expectancy by ethnicity. The impacts of component assumptions on ethnic group populations were assessed. Ethnic population projections were used to forecast future water demand to 2101 in the London and Thames Valley region as input to Thames Water's 2019 Water Resource Management Plan. The results of this research are being written up for journals.

In 2008-2010 I participated in the European project (DEMIFER) on migration and population change in Europe. In 2013-2014, I contributed to the international migration forecasts used in the Wittgenstein Centre’s World Population and Human Capital in the Twenty-First Century. In 2016, I collaborated in an international project, IMAGE, comparing countries covering 80% of the world’s population, as lead author of a paper on the impact of internal migration on population redistribution [3]. In 2017-2018 I was part of the ONS Consultative Group on new household projections.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, Chicago 1973, Residential Patterns in American Cities: 1960
  • MA, Chicago 1968, The Factorial Ecology of Metropolitan Chicago, 1960
  • MA, Cambridge 1968
  • BA, Cambridge 1966

Professional memberships

  • Fellow, Academy of Social Sciences
  • Fellow, Academy of Social Sciences
  • Fellow, Royal Geographical Society
  • Member, British Society for Population Studies
  • Member, European Association for Population Studies

Student education

I no longer teach classes or supervise masters or doctoral students. However, I am still happy to provide advice and ideas in my fields of expertise to current research postgraduates, masters or bachelor students writing dissertations or post-doctoral research fellows.

Research groups and institutes

  • Institute for Spatial Data Science