How we make life choices

24 OCT 2017

The Science of Choice – online open access supplement from Population Studies
Guest Editors : Frans Willekens, Jakub Bijak, Anna Klabunde, Alexia Prskawetz

To understand population change, it is not sufficient to know what life choices individuals and families make. We need to understand how choices are made. Critical choices in life, such as the choice to marry, to have a child, to migrate, to retire or to end the life course, are outcomes of cognitive processes. The processes involve substantial risk and uncertainty. They consist of stages and each stage takes time. Life choices have far-reaching consequences. Because of them, people’s lives and biographies are diverse, and population change is colourful but complex.

Multi-stage decision processes under uncertainty, embedded in the human life course, are the subject of this special issue (supplement) of Population Studies. To master the complexity of the subject, stochastic process models and microsimulation are used, and Bayesian information processing models that incorporate prior beliefs are suggested.

The publication should appeal to demographers, sociologists, economists, cognitive scientists and anyone interested in understanding how critical life choices are made.

The publication is an outcome of the Scientific Panel on Microsimulation and Agent-Based Modelling convened by the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) and a workshop the Panel organized in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany.

The entire publication is Open-Access.

Link to the publication

The Wittgenstein Centre aspires to be a world leader in the advancement of demographic methods and their application to the analysis of human capital and population dynamics. It is a collaboration among the World Population Program of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the Vienna Institute of Demography of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (VID/ÖAW) and the Demography Group and the Research Institute on Human Capital and Development of the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU).

Wittgenstein Centre Partner: WU Wittgenstein Centre Partner: OEAW Wittgenstein Centre Partner: IIASA