Demographic Applications of Event History Analysis

Demographic Applications of Event History Analysis

Demographic Applications of Event History Analysis

Demographic Applications of Event History Analysis


This study illustrates the use of new techniques for the analysis of individual life histories that contain dates of relevant demographic events such as births, marriages, marital dissolutions, and migrations. The book focuses on major methodological approaches and their differences.


James Trussell

This book emanates from a seminar on Event History Analysis, which was sponsored jointly by the Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED) and the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP), held in Paris from 14 to 17 March 1988. a selection of the papers presented at that seminar, some of which have been extensively revised to reflect the discussion there, forms this volume.

During the past few years, advances have been made in the study of individual life histories (e.g. family or occupational histories) for two reasons. First, the number of surveys undertaken throughout the world to collect detailed information on the timing of events in individual lives (including fertility surveys, surveys on the family, and occupation and migration histories) is increasing. Such detailed information cannot easily be analysed with conventional statistical methods such as ordinary linear regression, so that the increase in data has not necessarily led to commensurate advances in knowledge. Simultaneously, however, there has been great progress in developing methods to analyse such data. Hazard models (or multivariate life tables) permit the investigator to disentangle the effects of several explanatory variables on the risk that an event will occur; they also provide an attractive alternative to conventional simultaneous-equations techniques for analysing concurrent processes such as female labour force participation and fertility.

Although recent work has greatly advanced the analytical power of the tools available to demographers, two challenges remain. First, there are unresolved technical and practical issues apparent in the literature, particularly revolving around the problems of unmeasured heterogeneity and assessing goodness of fit. Second, most demographers and other social scientists have only limited experience with the new techniques and have not applied them in their own work. Therefore, the iussp working group on event history analysis thought that the time was ripe for the SYSTEMation of a volume that illustrates the use of the new techniques, and that contains work on the current frontiers of methodological understanding. Nevertheless, this volume is not intended to be a textbook on the analysis of event history data; instead, those interested are referred to any of several excellent standard references (Kalbfleisch and Prentice 1980; Allison 1984; Cox and Oakes 1984; Tuma and Hannan 1984; Namboodiri and Suchindran 1987; Courgeau and Lelièvre 1989).

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