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Wood's Method -- a Method for Fitting Leslie Matrices from Age-Sex Population Data, with some Practical Applications

  • Author(s): Sprague, William Webb
  • Advisor(s): Wachter, Kenneth
  • et al.

This dissertation is dedicated to an exploration of "Wood's Method" -- a novel approach to

fitting demographic transition matrices to age and sex population count data.

Demographic transition matrices, otherwise known as "Leslie matrices," are extensively

used to forecast population by age, sex, and other characteristics. Our implementation of

Wood's Method simplifies the creation of age and sex population forecasts greatly by

reducing the amount of data necessary to create a demographic transition matrix.

Furthermore, the method can be used to infer a demographic component of change (one of

migration, fertility, or mortality) if the other two components are specified.

In Chapter One, we introduce Wood's Method, as well as showing some illustrative

examples. In Chapter Two, we evaluate the accuracy of Wood's Method by crossvalidating

age and sex specific forecasts for 3,120 US counties. In Chapter Three, we

present a simpler, alternative derivation of Wood's Method with an extensive example and

show some extensions to the method made possible by this new formulation. In Chapter

Four, we use the method to examine migration rates at the US County level and show

important results regarding clustering of migration. Each chapters is independent of the

others, but should be read in order.

To our knowledge, this is the first time Wood's Method has been used for forecasting

human populations. We hope to show its viability as a forecasting and analysis method

and sketch directions for further research.

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