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How we make life choices

26 October 2017

Population Studies, a Journal of Demography published a special issue on the Science of Choice guest edited by Frans Willekens (NIDI), Jakub Bijak (University of Southampton), Anna Klabunde (MPIDR) and Alexia Prskawetz (IIASA/VID/WU).

To understand population change, it is not sufficient to know what life choices individuals and families make. We need to understand how choices are made. Critical choices in life, such as the choice to marry, to have a child, to migrate, to retire or to end the life course, are outcomes of cognitive processes. The processes involve substantial risk and uncertainty. They consist of stages and each stage takes time. Life choices have far-reaching consequences. Because of them, people's lives and biographies are diverse, and population change is colourful but complex.

Multi-stage decision processes under uncertainty, embedded in the human life course, are the subject of this special issue (supplement) of Population Studies. To master the complexity of the subject, stochastic process models and microsimulation are used, and Bayesian information processing models that incorporate prior beliefs are suggested.

The publication should appeal to demographers, sociologists, economists, cognitive scientists and anyone interested in understanding how critical life choices are made.

The publication is an outcome of the Scientific Panel on Microsimulation and Agent-Based Modelling convened by the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) and a workshop of the Panel organized in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany.

The entire publication is Open-Access:

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