Skip to main content

Bayesian Reconstruction of Two-Sex Populations by Age: Estimating Sex Ratios at Birth and Sex Ratios of Mortality

Mark C Wheldon and Adrian Elmes Raftery

December 2013 CSSS Working Paper #138



The original version of Bayesian reconstruction (Wheldon et al.,2013b ), a method for estimating age-specific fertility, mortality, migration and population counts of the recent past with uncertainty, produced estimates for female-only populations. Here we show how two-sex populations can be similarly reconstructed and probabilistic estimates of various sex ratio quantities obtained. We demonstrate the method by reconstructing the populations of India from 1971 to 2001, Thailand from 1960 to 2000, and Laos from 1985 to 2005. We found evidence that in India, sex ratio at birth (SRB) exceeded its conventional upper limit of 1.06, and, further, increased over the period of study, with posterior probability above 0.9. In addition, almost uniquely, we found evidence that life expectancy at birth (e0) was lower for females than for males in India (posterior probability for 1971-1976 0.79), although there was strong evidence for a narrowing of the gap through to 2001. In both Thailand and Laos, we found strong evidence for the more usual result that e0 was greater for females and, in Thailand, that the difference increased over the period of study.

Keywords: Bayesian hierarchical model, Two-sex model, Population projection, Vital Rates, Sex ratio at birth, Sex ratio of mortality