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General growth balance method: A reformulation for populations open to migration

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Methodology Research

This paper proposes a reformulation of the general growth balance method for estimating census and registration completeness so as to make it applicable even to populations that are affected by migration. It also discusses a new procedure of line fitting that could be useful in countries where the input data are severely affected by age misreporting. The method is applicable to countries where data on age distribution of the population are available for two points in time from either censuses or surveys. Following closely the original proposal of Brass, it involves adjusting the ‘partial’ birth rates for age-specific disturbances from growth and migration rates. Beyond correcting the death rates, the method is useful in inferring the relative completeness of the censuses, and in deriving a robust estimate of birth rate under certain conditions. The application of the method is illustrated using the example of the male population of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh for the period 1981 to 1991.


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