Volume 42 - Article 6 | Pages 149–164 Author has provided data and code for replicating results

Exploring the demographic history of populations with enhanced Lexis surfaces

By Jorge Cimentada, Sebastian Kluesener, Tim Riffe

Print this page  Facebook  Twitter


Date received:27 Feb 2019
Date published:22 Jan 2020
Word count:2864
Keywords:data visualization, historical demography, Lexis surface, mortality
Additional files:readme.42-6 (text file, 6 kB)
 demographic-research.42-6 (zip file, 1 MB)
Weblink:You will find all publications in this Special Collection on Data Visualization here.


Background: Lexis surfaces are widely used to analyze demographic trends across periods, ages, and birth cohorts. When used to visualize rates or trends, these plots usually do not convey information about population size. The failure to communicate population size in Lexis surfaces can lead to misinterpretations of mortality or other conditions that populations face. For example, high mortality rates at very high ages have historically been experienced by only a small proportion of a population or cohort.

Objective: We propose enhanced Lexis surfaces that include a visual representation of population size. The examples we present demonstrate how such plots can give readers a more intuitive understanding of the demographic development of a population over time.

Methods: Visualizations are implemented using an R-Shiny application, building upon perception theories.

Results: We present example plots for enhanced Lexis surfaces that show trends in cohort mortality and first-order differences in cohort mortality developments. These plots illustrate how adding the cohort size dimension allows us to extend the analytical potential of standard Lexis surfaces.

Contribution: Our enhanced Lexis surfaces improve conventional depictions of period, age, and cohort trends in demographic developments of populations. An online interactive visualization tool based on Human Mortality Database data allows users to generate and export enhanced Lexis surfaces for their research. The R code to generate the application (and a link to the deployed application) can be accessed at https://github.com/cimentadaj/lexis_plot.

Author's Affiliation

Jorge Cimentada - Max-Planck-Institut für Demografische Forschung, Germany [Email]
Sebastian Kluesener - Bundesinstitut für Bevölkerungsforschung (BiB), Germany [Email]
Tim Riffe - Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea (University of the Basque Country), Spain [Email]

Other articles by the same author/authors in Demographic Research

» Editorial to the Special Issue on Demographic Data Visualization: Getting the point across – Reaching the potential of demographic data visualization
Volume 44 - Article 36

» Lexis fields
Volume 42 - Article 24

» Estimating male fertility in eastern and western Germany since 1991: A new lowest low?
Volume 35 - Article 53

» Symmetries between life lived and left in finite stationary populations
Volume 35 - Article 14

» The Contextual Database of the Generations and Gender Programme: Concept, content, and research examples
Volume 35 - Article 9

» The force of mortality by life lived is the force of increment by life left in stationary populations
Volume 32 - Article 29

» Spatial inequalities in infant survival at an early stage of the longevity revolution: A pan-European view across 5000+ regions and localities in 1910
Volume 30 - Article 68

Most recent similar articles in Demographic Research

» Visualizing compositional data on the Lexis surface
Volume 36 - Article 21    | Keywords: data visualization, Lexis surface, mortality

» Divergent trends in lifespan variation during mortality crises
Volume 46 - Article 11    | Keywords: historical demography, mortality

» The growing number of given names as a clue to the beginning of the demographic transition in Europe
Volume 45 - Article 6    | Keywords: historical demography, mortality

» Lexis fields
Volume 42 - Article 24    | Keywords: data visualization, mortality

» Visualizing fertility trends for 45 countries using composite lattice plots
Volume 42 - Article 23    | Keywords: data visualization, Lexis surface