A General Procedure for Constructing Mortality Models

Andrew Hunt and David Blake

Recently, a large number of new mortality models have been proposed to analyse historic mortality rates and project them into the future. Many of these suffer from being over-parametrised or have terms added in an ad hoc manner which cannot be justified in terms of demographic significance. In addition, poor specification of a model can lead to period effects in the data being wrongly attributed to cohort effects which results in the model making implausible projections. We present a general procedure for constructing mortality models using a combination of a toolkit of functions and expert judgement. By following the general procedure, it is possible to identify sequentially every significant demographic feature in the data and give it a parametric structural form. We demonstrate using UK mortality data that the general procedure produces a relatively parsimonious model that nevertheless has a good fit to the data.

Keywords: Mortality modelling, age-period-cohort models, age period effects, cohort effects

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