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Identifiability in Age/Period/Cohort Mortality Models

Andrew Hunt & David Blake

The addition of a set of cohort parameters to a mortality model can generate complex identifiability issues due to the collinearity between the dimensions of age, period and cohort. These issues can lead to robustness problems and difficulties making projections of future mortality rates. Since many modern mortality models incorporate cohort parameters, we believe that a comprehensive analysis of the identifiability issues in age/period/cohort mortality models is needed. In this paper, we discuss the origin of identifiability issues in general models before applying these insights to simple but commonly used mortality models. We then discuss how to project mortality models
so that our forecasts of the future are independent of any arbitrary choices we make when fitting a model to data in order to identify the historical parameters.