Life tables in palaeodemography: A methodological note

Jeff T. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Several errors in the early literature discussing life‐table analysis of skeletal populations are potentially misleading to the researcher unacquainted with the mathematical methods of palaeodemography. Additional errors document the hazards of borrowing life‐table methods and equations from other applications without fully realizing their context, interpretation, and the potential restrictions on their use. A simple generalization of the life‐table equations explicitly to reveal their dependence on the entry age and width of the age intervals used will facilitate the correct computation of life tables and readily accommodate the use of unconventional or otherwise non‐standard cohorts. A general procedure for computing a life table for a skeletal population is presented, and a numerical example is included to illustrate the method.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-138
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Osteoarchaeology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • biostatistics
  • Life table
  • mortality
  • palaeodemography
  • population structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology


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