In much demographic analysis, it is important to know how occurrence-exposure rates or transition probabilities vary continuously by age or by time. Often we have coarse or fluctuating data so there can be a need for estimation and smoothing. Since the distributions of rates or counts across age or another variable are often curved, a nonlinear model is likely to be appropriate. The main focus of this paper is on the estimation of detailed information from grouped data such as age and income bands; however, the methods we outline could also be applied to other settings such as smoothing rates where the original data are ragged. The ability to carry out curve fitting is a very useful skill for population geographers and demographers. Curve fitting is not well covered in statistics textbooks, and whilst there is a large literature in journals thoroughly discussing the detail of functions which define curves, these texts are likely to be inaccessible to researchers who are not specialists in mathematics. We aim here to make nonlinear modelling as accessible as possible. We demonstrate how to carry out nonlinear regression using SPSS, giving stepped-through hypothetical and research examples. We note other software in which nonlinear regression can be carried out, and outline alternative methods of curve fitting.
|Journal||Journal of Population Research|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jun 2012|
- Sociodemographic data estimation
- Curve fitting
- Nonlinear models
- Census and social survey data