Journal Article

Probabilistic mortality forecasting with varying age-specific survival improvements

Bohk-Ewald, C., Rau, R.
Genus, 73:1, 1–37 (2017)
Open Access


Many mortality forecasting approaches extrapolate past trends. Their predictions of the future development can be quite precise as long as turning points and/or age-shifts of mortality decline are not present. To account even for such mortality dynamics, we propose a model that combines recently developed ideas in a single framework. It (1) uses rates of mortality improvement to model the aging of mortality decline, and it (2) optionally combines the mortality trends of multiple countries to catch anticipated turning points. We use simulation-based Bayesian inference to estimate and run this model that also provides prediction intervals to quantify forecast uncertainty. Validating mortality forecasts for British and Danish women from 1991 to 2011 suggest that our model can forecast regular and irregular mortality developments and that it can perform at least as well as other widely accepted approaches like, for instance, the Lee-Carter model or the UN Bayesian approach. Moreover, prospective mortality forecasts from 2012 to 2050 suggest gradual increases for British and Danish life expectancy at birth.

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.