Health-Based Population Forecasting: Effects of Smoking on Mortality and Fertility
A microsimulation model, allowing one to forecast short- and long-term population changes conditional on the prevalence of a risk factor in a population, is presented. In this model, population changes result from the aggregation of changes in individual event histories, which, in turn, result from mortality and infertility rates recalculated in accordance with their known relative risks in population groups exposed to a risk factor. Smoking, being the most widespread and influential preventable public health risk factor, is chosen to demonstrate the abilities of the model to forecast the population effects of different hypothetical smoking prevalences. The demographic and population health effects on 20-, 50-, and 100-year projections with the current, hypothetically doubled, and hypothetically halved the current smoking prevalence are analyzed in detail. The model predicts an increase in life expectancy (0.99 year for males and 0.64 years for females), and an increase in population size (2.2–7.5% dependent on the age group) if smoking prevalence is reduced by half. Sensitivity analyses of all findings are performed. The generalization of the model to account for multiple risk factors (e.g., the simultaneous effects of alcohol consumption, obesity, and smoking) and effects on medical expenditures are discussed.