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Centre for Actuarial Research (CARe) A Research Unit of the University of Cape Town. The Centre for Actuarial Research and Demographic teaching and research in South Africa. Outline. Background and overview of CARe History Focus areas Research outputs Demographic teaching and research

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the centre for actuarial research and demographic teaching and research in south africa

Centre for Actuarial Research


A Research Unit of the University of Cape Town

The Centre for Actuarial ResearchandDemographic teaching and research in South Africa

  • Background and overview of CARe
    • History
    • Focus areas
    • Research outputs
  • Demographic teaching and research
    • UCT
    • Other universities in South Africa (briefly)
history of care
History of CARe
  • Started in 2001
  • Three directors and one RA
  • Four strands (Health care financing, Social security, Demography, HIV/AIDS modelling)
  • Evolved into current structure:
    • Director
    • Three Senior Lecturers
    • Two Senior Researchers
    • Two Research Assistants and post doctoral fellowships
history of care1
History of CARe
  • Focus now on AIDS modelling and demography
  • Unique, in that we have a teaching programme embedded in a research unit
    • reflects the awkwardness of locating technical demography as a discipline
      • “demography is an interdiscipline” Stycos (1989)
    • but also the importance we attach to the symbiosis between research and teaching
    • it works well
focus demographic research
Focus : Demographic research
  • Demographic research and teaching
    • Director, Senior Lecturers and post-doctoral fellows are the ‘demographers’
    • Although we each have interests in the focus areas of others, we each have specialist interests: fertility (TM) and mortality and population projections (RD)
    • Much research involves estimation and interpretation of results, but we have particular interests in interrogating and improving the methods of estimation and in devising methods for interrogating data quality
    • We are all responsible for teaching and supervision
demographic research
Demographic research
  • Overarching themes
    • Improvement of old, and derivation of new, methods of estimating demographic parameters from limited and defective data
    • Derivation of population estimates
    • Production of fertility and mortality rates for SA
  • Mortality
    • Reconciliation of mortality data from Southern and Eastern Africa with estimates from the UN
    • Establishing impact of HIV/AIDS on mortality and interventions on that
  • Fertility
    • Patterns of childbearing in Southern and Eastern Africa
    • Methods and motives for contraceptive use
  • Migration
    • Internal and international migration in SA
  • HIV/AIDS modelling
    • Leigh Johnson and RD are involved in developing and using the HIV/AIDS models
    • HIV/AIDS research has been contentious in South Africa (possibly none more so than the production of estimates of the numbers of infected, sick and dying)
    • The model we work on derives from and is released under the auspices of the Actuarial Society of South Africa (ASSA)
    • More on this in another session
  • Other activities
    • Research consulting
      • Recent: NACA/UNDP Botswana, Gauteng government
      • Past: BER, Stats SA, PGWC, Cape Metro, SAAVI, various small contracts
    • Research seminar series
      • Around 12-15 a year, 4-6 international visitors p.a.
      • This year so far: Wolfgang Lutz (IIASA, AAS), Gigi Santow, Ian Timaeus (LSHTM) and Michael Bracher
      • Others: e.g. Simon Gregson (Imperial, Zim MRC), Bob McCaa (U Minnesota), Tim Dyson (LSE), Sam Clark (U Washington), David Lam (U Michigan), Simon Sreter (Oxford), Cedeplar
    • Publication of monographs, occasional papers, etc
    • SAJD
research highlights
Research highlights
  • Significant contributions (with MRC) to the definitive work on burden of disease and cause of death in South Africa
  • Publications in highly rated international journals: Population Studies; Demographic Research; Journal of Southern African Studies; Sexually Transmitted Infections; AIDS
  • Significant monographs written for Stats SA (2) and the Medical Research Council (2), one of which has been downloaded more than 20 000 times (by the time counting stopped!)
  • Four main sources:
    • Significant research contracts
    • Other research contracts to undertake small projects
    • Short courses (although primary concern is to cross-subsidise participation)
    • Funding from Mellon and Hewlett Foundations to support the development of (particularly teaching of)technical demography – posts and scholarships
  • Africa Centre (DSS in northern KwaZulu-Natal)
    • Memorandum of Understanding
    • projects: modelling, validation
    • Graduate student from UCT working there as demographer
  • Dikgale (DSS in Limpopo province, SA)
  • LSHTM – Ian Timæus
  • University of Washington – Sam Clark & Adrian Raftery
  • Cedeplar
  • Others
    • Wolfgang Lutz (IIASA)
    • UN Population Division
    • UNAIDS Reference Group on Estimates, Modelling and Projections
  • South Africa
    • MRC, HSRC, Stats SA, SAAVI
    • DoH, DoSD, National Treasury
    • TAC, C A S E, Children’s Institute, DataFirst, Saldru, BER
    • ASSA
    • Other Mellon-funded University programmes (Wits, UKZN)
  • Other
    • INDEPTH, Other Hewlett-funded institutions in Africa (Wits, University of Nairobi, Gold Coast)
demography at uct
Demography at UCT
  • Demography in South Africa was highly politicised during the apartheid era
    • Seen to be politically compromised
    • No teaching or training (and very little research) into demography at English-speaking universities in South Africa until after 1994
    • Then UNFPA funding of several institutions – not UCT - followed by grants from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation to three institutions in South Africa (KZN, Wits, UCT)
    • Regarded as a ‘scarce skill’ in South Africa
demography at uct1
Demography at UCT
  • At UCT, some research had been done on demography in the late 1980s and 1990s
    • historical demography, using mission station church records to reconstruct mortality trends at the end of the 19th century
    • derivation of national life tables
    • leadership role in the development of the ASSA Aids and demographic model from the mid-1990s on
    • collaborative work with the MRC.
    • … but no structured teaching, training or research programme
demography at uct2
Demography at UCT
  • The Mellon grants changed this
    • 1st grant (1998-2001) largely used to run a detailed demographic, economic and anthropometric study in the Southern Cape
      • First trained demographer employed in 2000, a joint appointment between the School of Economics
    • 2nd grant (2001-4) split, broadly, between CARe (teaching) and Saldru (research)
      • MPhil in demography launched in 2003
      • First doctoral students enrolled
    • 3rd Mellon grant, 2004-7 continues in same vein
      • Mellon funding ends in 2007
demography at uct3
Demography at UCT
  • Hewlett Foundation grants
    • Further support for demographic teaching, training and research
rationale for care s approach
Rationale for CARe’s approach
  • An audit of demographic training in Southern and Eastern Africa, conducted in 2004-5
    • Focus is unique in the region
      • The only institution engaged in teaching, training and research in technical demography
    • Skills in technical demography are being lost, due in part to the post-Cairo consensus which prioritises reproductive health over demography
      • But there is still a strong need for these skills to estimate demographic parameters, and to assist with planning; but data are not getting any better
rationale for care s approach1
Rationale for CARe’s approach
  • Strong need for a (small) cadre of technically-sound demographers, trained to
    • Carefully assess and analyse local census and survey data, to maximise the utility of this information in informing public policy
    • Estimate demographic parameters and project populations
    • Train future generations in these skills
programmes offered
Programmes offered
  • PhD in demography
    • UK model – 3 year independent research
    • Coursework to ensure foundational knowledge
    • Increasingly moving to a 1+3 model
  • MPhil in demography
    • 18+ months, coursework and dissertation
    • Emphasis on technical skills
  • MCom in economics and demography
    • Resuscitated and relaunched in 2005
  • BSc in statistics and demography
    • Designed as a long-term feeder for the MPhil
mphil in demography
1st semester

Basic demography

Biostatistics for demographers

Social research methods

Topics in population studies

Topics in Southern African demography

2nd semester

Techniques of demographic estimation

Population projections

3rd semester


MPhil in Demography
selected course contents
(Selected) course contents
  • Basic Demography
    • Based on Preston, Heuveline and Guillot
    • Foundational material
    • Taught in 11 2-hour lectures
    • 11 2-hour tutorials
    • Examined via open-book, computer-based examination
selected course contents1
(Selected) course contents
  • Demographic Estimation
    • Indirect techniques – starts with Manual X, but goes on to include Relational Gompertz models and projected parity progression ratios (Brass-Juarez); variable-r techniques, including Synthetic Extinct Generation methods.
    • Emphasis on understanding assumptions and application of methods
    • Student-derived spreadsheets … no PASex!
    • 24 2-hour lectures and 24 2-hour tutorials covered in 12 weeks.
selected course contents2
(Selected) course contents
  • Population Projections
    • Theory and methods of population projection
    • Allowing for HIV/AIDS
    • Use of different models
      • Spectrum/EPP/AIM
      • ASSA
    • 12 2-hour lectures and 12 2-hour tutorials
current student research projects
Current student research projects
  • Doctoral Topics
    • Child mortality in South Africa
    • Ethnic variations in fertility in Zambia
  • Masters Thesis Topics
    • Fertility and birth intervals in Malawi
    • Impact of HIV/AIDS on the ‘orphanhood method’ of estimating adult mortality
    • Household socio-economic determinants of mortality
    • Fitting the ASSA model to Zimbabwe
    • AIDS and demographic modeling of a DSS in rural South Africa
current student research projects1
Current student research projects
  • Master’s projects (continued)
    • Analysis of deaths registered by health district in the Cape Town metropole
    • Child mortality and birth spacing in Mozambique
    • A new fertility schedule for use in demographic estimation models in developing countries
    • Methods of child mortality estimation applied to Zambia and Malawi
    • Fertility decline in Lesotho since the 1970s
other training data access and collaborative opportunities at care
Other training, data access and collaborative opportunities at CARe
  • Short course on demographic modelling using the ASSA model
    • Week-long course run every June-July
  • Data First
    • Resource centre dedicated to archiving census and survey data
    • Holds most African DHS data, as well as large amounts of census data
  • Visiting demographers
    • CARe has resources to host visiting demographers for short-term visits (<3 months) to assist in data analysis and/or interpretation
demographic teaching and research elsewhere in south africa
Demographic teaching and research elsewhere in South Africa
  • Mellon-funded institutions (-2007)
    • U. KwaZulu-Natal: focus on population-poverty links
    • U. Witwatersrand: focus on public health and migration. Also funded by Hewlett (2005-)
  • Other institutions
    • University of the North-West
    • University of the Western Cape
    • Most of these institutions are relatively weak in the area of formal or technical demography