SIPHER Synthetic Population

SIPHER - Synthetic population

Watch our animated video to follow the creation of our synthetic population.

We demonstrate how it will be used to analyse the potential impacts of proposed policy changes on the population.

Our Synthetic Population is a novel and unique dataset that provides a 'digital twin' enriched with a substantial amount of associated information representing each individual in Scotland, England, and Wales - over 55 million people.

The Synthetic Population for Individuals in Great Britain is created by combining policy partner data with publicly available datasets including the UK Household Longitudinal Study (Understanding Society). The desire is that the resulting simulated “artificial” population reflects as many of the key attributes of the real population as possible. 

Access to high-quality data for individuals within a population is crucial for research and policy makers.  It allows the identification of emerging issues and needs, and the assessment of policy impact.

However, detailed information on individuals, including their health or employment status, is often only available via national safe haven settings. These data sets have strict entry requirements and with long lead times for applications do not typically allow for swift access and analysis.  While commissioning survey data can provide an alternative, the sample size is often restricted and limits opportunities to study geographical areas and make direct comparisons.

To overcomes these limitations the SIPHER Synthetic Population was developed by our Data & System Monitoring - WS3. By combining a number of datasets and recreating as an anonymised "digital twin" of the population we offer researchers and policy actors the opportunity to study the interaction of different life domains, such as health, education, employment, or housing.

Related Resources

  • SIPHER Synthetic Population - video  - An animated video describing how we have created our synthetic population and how we will use it to understand how proposed policy changes might affect people in different ways.

  • Product Guide -Synthetic Population - Provides technical details of the characteristics including strengths and limitations for this data set, plus the option to directly compare with other SIPHER products
  • UK Data Service website - To create the Synthetic Population, Understanding Society survey data and small-area census information are required. Understanding Society survey data can be downloaded from the UK Data Service.



  • Welsh Government & Public Health Wales Workshop, Cardiff

In March 2024 we held a successful SIPHER Synthetic Population Workshop for the Welsh Government and Public Health Wales in Cardiff. Participants rated the course highly noting “really interesting session and offered great scope for some future health analysis projects in Wales.” Led by Andreas Hoehn SIPHER Research Associate, the half-day event equipped attendees with the necessary knowledge and skills to independently navigate this innovative dataset. Follow up plans look to support the active policy development process within the Welsh Government. 

  • CECAN Webinar

Nik Lomax SIPHER Co-Investigator and Co-Lead on our Data & System Monitoring and Policy Microsimulation workstrands presented an Introduction to our Synthetic Population Dataset in a Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN) Webinar on 28 February 2024. 

Watch: SIPHER Synthetic Population: An Introduction plus Q&A

  • Introductory Workshop, Glasgow

In December 2023 we held a half-day introductory workshop on the SIPHER Synthetic Population for researchers at Glasgow City Council and the University of Glasgow.  

This successful session allowed everyone to get “hands on” with this unique data set which provides a “digital twin” for the adult population in Scotland, England, and Wales, approximately 55 million individuals.