Volume 13 - Article 14 | Pages 335-362

Official population statistics and the Human Mortality Database estimates of populations aged 80+ in Germany and nine other European countries

By Dmitri A. Jdanov, Rembrandt D. Scholz, Vladimir Shkolnikov, M.

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Date received:19 Nov 2004
Date published:17 Nov 2005
Word count:6814
Keywords:age/aging, elderly, population estimates, quality of statistics, statistics


A systematic comparison of the Human Mortality Database and official estimates of populations aged 80+ is presented. We consider statistical series for East and West Germany and also for Denmark, England and Wales, France, Finland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, and Switzerland. The Human Mortality Database (HMD, www.mortality.org) methodology relies on the methods of extinct and almost extinct generations. HMD estimates are precise if the quality of death data is high and the migration among the elderly is negligible.
The comparisons between the HMD and the official populations are not fully appropriate for the 1990s since the HMD calculations are related to official population estimates. A significant overestimation of the male population aged 80+ and especially 90+ between the censuses of 1970 and 1987 was found in West Germany. The relative surplus of men aged 90+ increased from 5 to 20 percent, which expressed in absolute numbers indicates an increase from 2 to 10 thousand. In 1971-1987 the official death rates have fallen dramatically to implausibly low values.
In 1987-88 death rates based on the official populations suddenly jumped to the HMD death rates due to the census re-estimation. In the 1990s an accelerated decrease in male death rates has resumed. Among other countries, the relative and absolute deviations from the HMD estimates were especially high in Russia, Hungary, and England and Wales. Regression analysis reveals common factors of the relative deviation from the HMD populations. The deviation tends to decrease with time, increase with age, be higher during inter-census periods than in census years, and to decrease after the introduction of population registers.

Author's Affiliation

Dmitri A. Jdanov - Max-Planck-Institut für Demografische Forschung, Germany [Email]
Rembrandt D. Scholz - Rostocker Zentrum zur Erforschung des Demografischen Wandels, Germany [Email]
Vladimir Shkolnikov, M. - Max-Planck-Institut für Demografische Forschung, Germany [Email]

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