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The goal of the BayesPop working group is to develop a statistical framework for probabilistic population projections and for assessing uncertainty in linked demographic-disease models.

The most common approach to communicating uncertainty in population projections is the scenario, or High-Medium-Low, approach, which has no probabilistic basis and leads to inconsistencies. We propose Bayesian melding as an alternative that can take account of all the available evidence and uncertainties about inputs and outputs from population projection models, to yield a predictive distribution of any quantity of policy interest.

Uncertainty is even more important for linked demographic-disease models, when the goal is to forecast future population and disease prevalence in the presence of an epidemic. The United Nations Population Division has decided to assess Bayesian melding as a method for assessing uncertainty in its population projections. UNAIDS has decided to use Bayesian melding as the basis for assessing uncertainty in their demographic and prevalence projections.

The specific aims of the research will be: (1) Methodological development of Bayesian melding to assess probabilistic forecasts, to deal with measurement and systematic errors, to provide a framework for model improvement, model selection and model uncertainty, and to develop more computationally efficient methods. (2) Develop Bayesian melding methods for probabilistic population projections, including fertility, mortality and migration. (3) Develop Bayesian melding methods for linked demographic-disease models, including the incorporation of multiple data sources, and the assessment of behavior change. (4) Produce and distribute software implementing the new methods produced by our research.