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Uncertainty quantification in demography: Challenges and possible solutions

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UNQW01 - Key UQ methodologies and motivating applications

Demography, with its over 350 years of history, is renowned for its empiricism, firm links with statistics, and the lack of a strong theoretical background. The uncertainty of demographic processes is well acknowledged, and over the past three decades, methods have been designed for quantifying the uncertainty in population estimates and forecasts. In parallel, developments in model-based demographic simulation methods, such as agent-based modelling, have recently offered a promise of shedding some light on the complexity of population processes. However, the existing approaches are still far from fulfilling this promise, and are themselves fraught with epistemological pitfalls. Crucially, complex problems are not analytically tractable with the use of traditional methods. In this talk, I will discuss the potential of uncertainty quantification in bringing together the empirical data, statistical inference and computer simulations, with insights into behavioural and social theory and knowledge of social mechanisms. The discussion will be illustrated by an example of a new research programme on model-based migration studies.

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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