In small populations, mortality rates are characterized by a great volatility, the datasets are often available for a few years and suffer from missing data. Therefore, standard mortality models may produce high uncertain and biologically improbable projections. In this paper, we deal with the mortality projections of the Maltese population, a small country with less than 500,000 inhabitants, whose data on exposures and observed deaths suffers from all the typical problems of small populations. We concentrate our analysis on older adult mortality. Starting from some recent suggestions in the literature, we assume that the mortality of a small population can be modeled starting from the mortality of a bigger one (the reference population) adding a spread. The first part of the paper is dedicated to the choice of the reference population, then we test alternative mortality models. Finally, we verify the capacity of the proposed approach to reduce the volatility of the mortality projections. The results obtained show that the model is able to significantly reduce the uncertainty of projected mortality rates and to ensure their coherent and biologically reasonable evolution.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited