Rich and extensive data are the lifeblood of demography. But data will only show their full explanatory potential when diligently analyzed by adequate techniques. This is even more true if data are complex, incomplete, or sparse. Demographic research thus rests on well-conceived statistical methodology. The members of the Laboratory develop innovative statistical methods to address novel research questions. They advise fellow scientists in their analysis of data and provide software to facilitate the application of innovative techniques.
Research questions in demography revolve around the life course of individuals and how these individual trajectories shape and change populations. Many studies thus investigate changes over time, such as the individual pathways through education and family formation, the changes of health and behavior with age, and the migration-related mobility of humans over their working career.
Common to all of these examples is that they require longitudinal data, but they come with particular complications. These include the selective dropout of individuals from a study, incomplete observations due to censoring and truncation, or the dependence between different processes, which consequently need to be analyzed jointly.
The members of the Laboratory of Statistical Demography develop and apply new approaches and techniques to address problems such as the ones outlined above. Research topics include multistate models, the joint analysis of dependent longitudinal processes, the simultaneous consideration of several time scales in event-history models, and the correct handling of complex longitudinal observation schemes. Subsequent projections based on longitudinal models is another area of research.
Researchers of the Laboratory also contribute to the educational programs the Institute is involved in (the International Max Planck Research School for Population, Health and Data Science; International Advanced Studies in Demography; and the European Doctoral School for Demography) and thus promote the use of up-to-date statistical methods in demographic research.