Forecasting and Ageing


The focus of the research group is on population dynamics, demographic analysis and forecasting. Main themes of the research are: population projections (issues related to projections, such as deriving scenarios on fertility, mortality and migration), methodological issues of projecting mortality and migration, and population ageing.

Population Projections

1)      Assessing Models of Mortality. The projection of mortality is an important component of any population projection. We showed that a selection of models that translate life expectancy into age-specific mortality rates may be of great importance for projecting the age composition of future populations and especially the speed of ageing.

2)      European Demographic Data Sheet (EDDS). This is a joint work with two other research groups (Fertility and Family, and Human Capital Data Lab). With the biennial series starting in 2006, the most recent EDDS was produced in 2016.

3)      Russian Demographic Data Sheet 2016. This work was conducted in collaboration with the Statistical Office of Russia and the Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration.


The work on ageing is conducted in the framework of the ERC Advanced Grant “Reassessing Ageing from a Population Perspective” (Re-Ageing).

1)      The Characteristics Approach to the measurement of population ageing. We developed a new paradigm in conceptualizing population ageing: the Characteristics Approach to the measurement of population ageing.

2)      Measures of Ageing Based on Biomarkers, Cognitive Abilities, and Subjective Survival Rates. Based on SOEP and ELSA (English Longitudinal Study of Ageing) surveys we showed that more recent cohorts of elderly are doing better in terms of cognitive performance than the elderly of previous cohorts, and it was shown that the speed of cognitive ageing of elderly is slowing down due to changes in the educational composition of populations and most recently due to the use of modern technology by the elderly population.

3)      Developing indexes of ageing. It is always a challenge how to combine different biomarkers and different subjective or objective characteristics related to ageing. We demonstrated that using the Characteristics Approach it is easy to convert characteristics relevant to the study of ageing to the alpha-ages and that developing an aggregate index becomes a much simpler task, since each characteristic is converted to the same metric.

4)      Forecasting ageing based on new measures. Based on UN projections for a number of regions and our own population projections for the European countries we compared ageing measured by the conventional approach and using newly developed measures.

5)      Reassessing Legal Pension Age. We were able to construct a simple demographically indexed normal public pension system, which was intergenerational equitable. We also showed that, in most European countries, a difference in policies that results in an increase in average labour force participation rates by an additional one to two percentage points by 2050 can substitute for a one-year increase in the normal pension age.


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. In assessing the effects of these forces on long-term human well-being, we combine scientific excellence in a multidisciplinary context with relevance to a global audience. It is a collaboration among the Austrian Academy of Sciences (ÖAW), the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and the University of Vienna.