Demographic Data

At a Glance Projects Publications Team

Research Area

Mortality and Survival

The development of world-leading data resources is a core activity of the Data Laboratory. Currently, it is responsible for four databases on mortality and longevity: the Human Mortality Database (in collaboration with the Department of Demography at the University of California at Berkeley (UCB)), the Human Life-Table Database (in collaboration with the French Institute for Demographic Studies (INED) and the UCB), the Human Cause of Death Database, and the International Database on Longevity (both in collaboration with INED). There are also two databases that are no longer updated but still available on the web: the Kannisto-Thatcher-Database on Old-Age Mortality and the Rostock Archive of Historical Vital Statistics MicroData.

The population in low- and middle-income countries constitutes the majority of the global population; there are thus growing needs for reliable data-driven mortality estimates for developing countries. In 2018, the Data Laboratory started a project to extend the extrapolation of highly accurate and methodologically advanced HMD approaches based on using all available data in combination with a standardized set of methods on countries that have problematic population statistics. Two priority countries in this project are India and China.

Another project based on the HMD experience is about the reconstruction of mortality trends during crises. It aims at the estimation of human losses due to epidemics, wars, and other disasters. Official registration systems cannot cover all vital events or adequately classify them during such crises. Thus, global pandemics, recent military conflicts, and other new health threats call for new methodological studies. The project started in March 2020.

Special attention is paid to collecting, integrating, and analyzing data on mortality in Germany. These are used for analyses of mortality trends in eastern and western Germany and of regional variation in mortality.

Mortality and health in other industrialized countries is another focus of the Laboratory’s research work. Here, the main emphasis is on the determinants of diverging mortality trends across and within national populations. The Data Laboratory is also involved in several international projects on mortality and health in Eastern Europe.

The Vanguard project involves the collection, processing, and analysis of high-quality data, linking census records with death events over several years after the censuses. These data allow researchers to see not only changes in social inequalities in mortality but also to see the new prospects for longevity, as presented by the advanced population groups. In addition, Laboratory researchers are developing methods for the measurement and decomposition of demographic indicators.

The Laboratory of Demographic Data also continues the biodemographic study on diseases and deaths in Moscow. Originally based on a grant by the National Institutes of Health, the study is devoted to the biological mechanisms linking cumulated stress with disease and death. The analysis is based on a unique survey conducted in Moscow from 2006 to 2009 by an international team led by MPIDR researchers and maintained by the Data Laboratory. The resulting dataset, including the most recent mortality follow-up, is available to all researchers upon request.

Research Keywords:

Aging, Mortality and Longevity, Data and Surveys, Health Care, Public Health, Medicine, and Epidemiology, Statistics and Mathematics

Region keywords:


Projects of this Research Area

Human Mortality Database Project details
Human Life-Table Database Project details
Geographical Mortality Disparities at Subnational Level Project details
Human Cause-of-Death Database Project details
Estimating Mortality and Human Losses during Health Crises Project details
Monitoring Mortality in Developing Countries Project details
Vanguard Project: Mortality and Life Expectancy in Population Groups Project details
Methods of Measurement and Decomposition in Mortality Studies Project details
Mortality and Health in Germany Project details
Mortality and Health in Eastern Europe Project details
Consistency of Cause-Specific Mortality Data (Dissertation) Project details
Biological Mechanisms of Stress-Related Hazard in Moscow Project details
Monitoring Mortality Inequalities Consortium Project details
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.