Flexible Modeling of Demographic Transition Processes with a Bayesian Hierarchical Penalized B-splines Model

by   Herbert Susmann, et al.

Several demographic and health indicators, including the total fertility rate (TFR) and modern contraceptive use rate (mCPR), exhibit similar patterns in their evolution over time, characterized by a transition between stable states. Existing statistical methods for estimation or projection are based on using parametric functions to model the transition. We introduce a more flexible model for transition processes based on B-splines called the B-spline Transition Model. We customize the model to estimate mCPR in 174 countries from 1970-2030 using data from the United Nations Population Division and validate performance with a set of out-of-sample model checks. While estimates and projections are comparable between the two approaches, we find the the B-spline approach improves out-of-sample predictions. Illustrative results for a model for TFR are also presented and show larger differences in projections when relaxing parametric assumptions.


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