Statistical Science

Bayesian Population Projections for the United Nations

Adrian E. Raftery, Leontine Alkema, and Patrick Gerland

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The United Nations regularly publishes projections of the populations of all the world’s countries broken down by age and sex. These projections are the de facto standard and are widely used by international organizations, governments and researchers. Like almost all other population projections, they are produced using the standard deterministic cohort-component projection method and do not yield statements of uncertainty. We describe a Bayesian method for producing probabilistic population projections for most countries which are projections that the United Nations could use. It has at its core Bayesian hierarchical models for the total fertility rate and life expectancy at birth. We illustrate the method and show how it can be extended to address concerns about the UN’s current assumptions about the long-term distribution of fertility. The method is implemented in the R packages bayesTFR, bayesLife, bayesPop and bayesDem.

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Statist. Sci., Volume 29, Number 1 (2014), 58-68.

First available in Project Euclid: 9 May 2014

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Bayesian hierarchical model cohort component projection method double logistic function Leslie matrix life expectancy total fertility rate


Raftery, Adrian E.; Alkema, Leontine; Gerland, Patrick. Bayesian Population Projections for the United Nations. Statist. Sci. 29 (2014), no. 1, 58--68. doi:10.1214/13-STS419.

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