IDEM 115

Demographic Applications of Bayesian Models

Start: 27 June 2016
End: 6 July 2016
Location: Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR), Rostock, Germany

Prof. Dr. Carl Schmertmann, Florida State University

Course Description
Bayesian statistical models are extremely promising solutions to many of the practical problems that demographers face. They provide coherent, mathematically rigorous methods for merging data from multiple sources, for combining expert knowledge with sample data, for smoothing data across space and time, and for making probabilistic forecasts and projections. This course will introduce the fundamental statistical ideas behind Bayesian models, and illustrate with specific demographic examples.  Students will get hands-on practice with real data using the R software system.

Eight course days:
- Mon-Fri, 27 June- 1 July
- Mon-Wed, 4-6 July

Each course day will consist of
- a lecture session from 9:00-12:00
- a lab session from 14:00-17:00

This is mainly an introductory course, intended for demographers with an intermediate-level statistical background. Students should already have basic familiarity with

  • multivariate statistics (density functions, maximum likelihood, conditional probability, linear and nonlinear regression models)
  • demographic concepts and measures
  • R software

Active class participation and completion of lab exercises.

General Readings

  • S Jackman, 2009. Bayesian analysis for the social sciences.Wiley.
  • SM Lynch, 2007. Introduction to applied Bayesian statistics and estimation for social scientists.Springer.

Further readings with demographic examples and applications will also be provided.

Financial support
There is no tuition fee for this course.  Students are expected to pay their own transportation and living costs.  However, a limited number of scholarships are available on a competitive basis for outstanding candidates and for those applicants who might otherwise not be able to come.

Recruitment of students
Applicants should either be enrolled in a PhD program (those well on their way to completion will be favored) or have received their PhD.
A maximum of 20 students will be admitted.
The selection will be made by the MPIDR based on the applicants’ scientific qualifications.

How to apply
Applications should be sent by email to the MPIDR (address below).  Please begin your email message with a statement saying that you apply for course IDEM 115 – Demographic Applications of Bayesian Models. You also need to attach the following items integrated in *a single pdf file*: (1) A two-page curriculum vitae, including a list of your scholarly publications.  (2) A one-page letter from your supervisor at your home institution supporting your application.  (3) A one-page statement of your research and how it relates to the course.  At the very end of your research statement, in a separate paragraph, please indicate (a) whether you would like to be considered for financial support and (b) if you would be able to come without financial aid from our side.

Send your email to Heiner Maier (

Application deadline is 22 April 2016.

Applicants will be informed of their acceptance by 15 May 2016.

Das Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung (MPIDR) in Rostock ist eines der international führenden Zentren für Bevölkerungswissenschaft. Es gehört zur Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, einer der weltweit renommiertesten Forschungsgemeinschaften.