Flexible transition timing in discrete-time multistate life tables using Markov chains with rewards

Population Studies, 1–15 (2023)
Open Access


Discrete-time multistate life tables are attractive because they are easier to understand and apply in comparison with their continuous-time counterparts. While such models are based on a discrete time grid, it is often useful to calculate derived magnitudes (e.g. state occupation times), under assumptions which posit that transitions take place at other times, such as mid-period. Unfortunately, currently available models allow very few choices about transition timing. We propose the use of Markov chains with rewards as a general way of incorporating information on the timing of transitions into the model. We illustrate the usefulness of rewards-based multistate life tables by estimating working life expectancies using different retirement transition timings. We also demonstrate that for the single-state case, the rewards approach matches traditional life-table methods exactly. Finally, we provide code to replicate all results from the paper plus R and Stata packages for general use of the method proposed.

Schlagwörter: expectation of working life, life tables, Markov chains
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.