Sir Bernard welcomed the group and confirmed those in attendance. Apologies were given for Ana and Carl, unable to attend this panel.
2. Update on Population Statistics Transformation and Gender Identity
Jennet Woolford updated the panel on recent work on both population statistics transformation and gender identity.
A subcommittee of the panel is reviewing progress on this topic.
The panel noted the updates given.
3. Actions Update
Actions – Travel & Tourism will be following up EAP199 with a paper by correspondence, focusing on sampling proposals. The other issues arising such as imputation would come back to MARP at a later stage.
The MARP annual report is in draft stage currently.
4. Options Paper: Estimating the number of expected deaths (baseline) for calculating excess deaths – EAP200
ONS gave a brief overview of the paper and key questions arising from it.
The panel noted that many issues are based on how the ‘baseline’ is defined and what is included. ONS agreed, and said they would clarify further in any published papers.
The panel asked whether excess deaths in earlier periods affect later periods. ONS clarified that they did not adjust for this explicitly, as it is not known when the ‘displaced’ deaths would have taken place, however changes to the population caused by excess deaths in one period would impact on what the ‘baseline’ was for deaths in the next period.
The panel asked about the potential impact of Bank Holidays affecting the number of registrations in a particular period. ONS said that changes in Bank Holidays do not usually have much impact across a year. However, in monthly data, Bank Holidays and – more especially – variations in weekends does make a difference. ONS is currently working on a process to adjust for working-day variations.
There was some discussion about the use of a trend-adjusted five-year average (TAFYA) versus an ARIMA method. The cross-GSS working group had recommended the use of TAFYA, partly due to transparency, and the panel was keen to ensure that methodological best practise was properly considered.
The panel emphasised the need to deliver understandable statistics to non-technical audiences, commenting that whilst the current paper is methodologically justified, and the process for evaluating the options was robust, there were needs for clarity on explaining methodology.
ONS also outlined their plans for future work. This includes further work on the pandemic, working day adjustments, calculating age-standardised mortality rates as a number, and using non-linear and log trend data.
The panel discussed death registration delays and the potential issue, especially for younger people. The panel were concerned that late registrations could be an issue if there is a spike in deaths causing increased lag. The panel were concerned that these lags are an issue for the statistics. ONS does not control how deaths are registered but is investigating the potential impacts of registration delays.
The Panel recommended that ONS uses its best efforts to change the system to improve the statistics. In the meantime, registration delays should be clearly labelled as a caveat.
5. Any other business
Scheduling of the next meeting was suggested to be in autumn, most likely October but with flexibility.
With no other business, the panel closed.
6. Actions summary
The MARP panel recommends that the ONS makes best efforts to encourage movement of the death registration system towards one with more timely registration of deaths.
The secretariat are to review draft of the annual report and progress.