Research Group

Mathematical and Actuarial Demography

At a Glance Projects Publications Team

Detailed Description

© oneinchpunch/

Mortality is declining and life expectancy rising in most countries. A consequence is population aging. The research group “Mathematical and Actuarial Demography” wants to find out the factors responsible for mortality change.

"There are certain laws in demography: every person gets one year older every year. It is precisely these natural constants that allow us to draw up models that are not possible in other social sciences," says Roland Rau, head of the Research Group Mathematical and Actuarial Demography. Rau finds precisely this connection between sociological questions and mathematical approaches particularly exciting.

Within demography, Rau is especially interested in mortality. He explains this as follows: "Everyone wants to live healthily for as long as possible. My research should make a contribution to making this possible." From a statistical-methodological point of view, the natural constant: "everyone dies only once" makes things easier enormously, Rau adds.

The research group is currently focusing on these questions:

  1. How can life expectancy be estimated at the county level in Germany? Small population numbers are methodically challenging, as only 30,000 people live in some counties. In this project, the research group is investigating how precise and accurate estimates can be despite such small sample sizes.
  2. Is the mortality rate in the highest age groups actually decelerating? Rau and his team are investigating this question together with colleagues from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. They use Swedish register data, one of the most reliable data sources for mortality estimations.
  3. How can demography use artificial intelligence methods? In demography, the use of machine learning methods is not yet widespread. Using data from the National Health Interview Survey, the group examines whether the newly developed methods allow better predictions of the remaining lifetime than classical approaches.
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.