MPIDR Working Paper

Understanding the shape of the mixture failure rate (with engineering and demographic applications)

Finkelstein, M. S.
MPIDR Working Paper WP-2009-031, 24 pages.
Rostock, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (November 2009)
Open Access


Mixtures of distributions are usually effectively used for modeling heterogeneity. It is well known that mixtures of DFR distributions are always DFR. On the other hand, mixtures of IFR distributions can decrease, at least in some intervals of time. As IFR distributions often model lifetimes governed by ageing processes, the operation of mixing can dramatically change the pattern of ageing. Therefore, the study of the shape of the observed (mixture) failure rate in a heterogeneous setting is important in many applications. We study discrete and continuous mixtures, obtain conditions for the mixture failure rate to tend to the failure rate of the strongest populations and describe asymptotic behavior as t tends to infty. Some demographic and engineering examples are considered. The corresponding inverse problem is discussed.
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.