Wednesday, August 22, 2012

[EQ] Bayesian probabilistic population projections for all countries

Bayesian probabilistic population projections for all countries

Adrian E. Rafterya,1, Nan Lib, Hana Ševčíkovác, Patrick Gerlandb, and Gerhard K. Heiligb

aDepartments of Statistics and Sociology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA bPopulation Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2, United Nations, New York,; and cCenter for Statistics and the Social Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

PNAS Early Edition August 20, 2012

Available online at:

Supporting information data also available online .

"……Projections of countries' future populations, broken down by age and sex, are widely used for planning and research. They are mostly done deterministically, but there is a widespread need for probabilistic projections. We propose a Bayesian method for probabilistic population projections for all countries. The total fertility rate and female and male life expectancies at birth are projected probabilistically using Bayesian hierarchical models estimated via Markov chain Monte Carlo using United Nations population data for all countries.

These are then converted to age-specific rates and combined with a cohort component projection model.

This yields probabilistic projections of any population quantity of interest. The method is illustrated for five countries of different demographic stages, continents and sizes. The method is validated by an out of sample experiment in which data from 1950–1990 are used for estimation, and applied to predict 1990–2010.

The method appears reasonably accurate and well calibrated for this period. The results suggest that the current United Nations high and low variants greatly underestimate uncertainty about the number of oldest old from about 2050 and that they underestimate uncertainty for high fertility countries and overstate uncertainty for countries that have completed the demographic transition and whose fertility has started to recover towards replacement level, mostly in Europe….."


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