Hybrid Seminar Talk

When do Parents Bury a Child? Uncertainty of Offspring Loss Across the Demographic Transition

Diego Alburez-Gutierrez
Laboratory of Digital and Computational Demography, October 19, 2021

Diego Alburez-Gutierrez from the Laboratory of Digital and Computational Demography at MPIDR evaluated whether the demographic changes that characterize the demographic transition do indeed make offspring loss more predictable for parents.


The Demographic Transition (DT) is often portrayed as the harbinger of a progressively ‘ordered’ world in which deaths become more predictable. In this narrative, parents adjust their fertility because they are increasingly certain that their offspring will survive childhood. Here, we evaluate whether the demographic changes that characterise the DT (longer lifespans and lower fertility) do indeed make offspring loss more predictable for parents. For this, we document the development of the Maternal Age at Offspring Loss around the world in terms of its central value and variability. We find that the changes implied by the DT may lead to the timing of offspring loss becoming more unpredictable for parents in the short term. Our findings have implications for population theory and for policy, especially in light of the radical demographic changes projected for countries in the Global South.


Diego is a Research Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, where he specialises in inter-generational demography. His work has used mathematical modelling, micro-simulation techniques, and empirical analysis to explore changes in the experience of life events such as kin availability, kin loss, and caring responsibilities.

The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.