Unveiling the Demographic 'Action' in Class-Action Lawsuits

Two Instructional Cases

Published in: Population Research and Policy Review, v. 18, no. 5, Oct. 1999, p. 491-505

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1999

by Peter A. Morrison

Population turnover, cohort survival, and intercohort transmission of effects are concepts widely applicable beyond the customary domains of demographic analysis. One such application involves a cohort of victims referenced in time and place by a common harm for which legal redress is sought through a class-action lawsuit. Two instructional case studies illustrate applications of demographic reasoning and data to certain generic questions such litigation may pose: How many claimants will remain by some future date? How prevalent will they then be in the population? How feasible will it be to redress the harm years later? These cases illustrate the use of familiar demographic concepts and simple demographic reasoning to draw legally relevant conclusions from available data. Specific instructional applications include: accounting for demographic factors that deplete the original class over time and dilute its surviving members among residents at the referenced place; integrating the use of administrative record, census, and vital statistics data; and devising approximate estimates of turnover within local populations. Training is broadly suited to assignments aimed at applying common-sense demographic reasoning to devise nonstandard solutions to measurement problems.

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