Skip to main content

Age-Specifi c Mortality and Fertility Rates for Probabilistic Population Projections

Hana Sevcikova and Adrian Elmes Raftery

March 2015 CSSS Working Paper #150



The UN released official probabilistic population projections (PPP) for all countries for the first time in July 2014. These were obtained by projecting the period total fertility rate (TFR) and life expectancy at birth (e0) using Bayesian hierarchical models, yielding a large set of future trajectories of TFR and e0 for all countries and future time periods to 2100, sampled from their joint predictive distribution. Each trajectory was then converted to age-specific mortality and fertility rates, and population was projected using the cohort-component method. This yielded a large set of trajectories of future age- and sex-specific population counts and vital rates for all countries. In this paper we describe the methodology used for deriving the age-specific mortality and fertility rates in the 2014 PPP, we identify limitations of these methods, and we propose several methodological improvements to overcome them. The methods presented in this paper are implemented in the publicly available bayesPop R package.

Keywords: Bayesian hierarchical model, Cohort-component method, Life expectancy at birth, Markov chain Monte Carlo, Total fertility rate, United Nations, World Population Prospects