Age-period-cohort analysis: An extension of Cox's lifetable regression with time-dependent covariates

Cheng-Hsiang Lin, The University of Texas School of Public Health


It is well known that an identification problem exists in the analysis of age-period-cohort data because of the relationship among the three factors (date of birth + age at death = date of death). There are numerous suggestions about how to analyze the data. No one solution has been satisfactory. The purpose of this study is to provide another analytic method by extending the Cox's lifetable regression model with time-dependent covariates. The new approach contains the following features: (1) It is based on the conditional maximum likelihood procedure using a proportional hazard function described by Cox (1972), treating the age factor as the underlying hazard to estimate the parameters for the cohort and period factors. (2) The model is flexible so that both the cohort and period factors can be treated as dummy or continuous variables, and the parameter estimations can be obtained for numerous combinations of variables as in a regression analysis. (3) The model is applicable even when the time period is unequally spaced. Two specific models are considered to illustrate the new approach and applied to the U.S. prostate cancer data. We find that there are significant differences between all cohorts and there is a significant period effect for both whites and nonwhites. The underlying hazard increases exponentially with age indicating that old people have much higher risk than young people. A log transformation of relative risk shows that the prostate cancer risk declined in recent cohorts for both models. However, prostate cancer risk declined 5 cohorts (25 years) earlier for whites than for nonwhites under the period factor model (0 0 0 1 1 1 1). These latter results are similar to the previous study by Holford (1983). The new approach offers a general method to analyze the age-period-cohort data without using any arbitrary constraint in the model.

Subject Area

Biostatistics|Public health

Recommended Citation

Lin, Cheng-Hsiang, "Age-period-cohort analysis: An extension of Cox's lifetable regression with time-dependent covariates" (1988). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9020180.