Bayesian Reconstruction of Past Populations and Vital Rates by Age for Developing and Developed Countries

Mark C. Wheldon, University of Washington
Adrian Raftery, University of Washington
Samuel J. Clark, University of Washington

We extend Bayesian population reconstruction, a recent method for estimating past populations by age with fully probabilistic statements of uncertainty. It simultaneously estimates age-specific population counts, vital rates and net migration from fragmentary data while formally accounting for measurement error. As inputs, it takes initial bias-reduced estimates of age-specific population counts, vital rates and net migration. We extend the method to apply to countries without censuses at regular intervals. We also develop a method for using it to assess the consistency between model life tables and available census data, and hence to compare different model life table systems. We show that the method works well in countries with widely varying levels of data quality by applying it to three very different countries, namely Laos, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

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Presented in Session 24: Innovative Theory and Methods for Demographic Research