The most recent and complete demographic model documentation is available on Pardee's website. Although the text in this interactive system is, for some IFs models, often significantly out of date, you may still find the basic description useful to you.
The population sub-model of IFs uses the cohort component analysis approach of many population models, including the studies done by the United Nations (United Nations, 1956 and 1977). The structure of the IFs population model drew initially on the World Integrated Model (WIM) or the second generation Mesarovic-Pestel Model (Hughes, 1980), but has changed much over time. In particular, José Solórzano and Randall Kuhn have made many contributions to its development.
The approach relies upon age, fertility, and mortality distributions for each country/region with 22 cohorts: one for infants, 20 of five-year size, and one for all individuals of age 100 or older. A major advantage of five-year cohorts is that data sources generally present demographic data in that form. Ideally, however, the cohort size should correspond to the model time step so as to avoid "numerical diffusion," the propagation of change from a five-year cohort to an adjoining cohort in a single year. To prevent such numerical diffusion, IFs actually runs an age distribution with 100 single-year cohorts and advances that over time, collapsing to 22 cohorts only for the calculations of births and deaths.
Because extensions of life expectancy are occurring steadily and there is at least the possibility of substantial breakthroughs, the IFs project has also created the option of extending the number of cohorts from 22 up to as many as 42 (allowing separate representation of age categories up to 200+). The capability is normally turned off, but instructions for turning on extended aging can be found here.
For more information on this module, please use the links below.