Existence and stability of equilibria in age-structured population dynamics

J. M. Cushing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The existence of positive equilibrium solutions of the McKendrick equations for the dynamics of an age-structured population is studied as a bifurcation phenomenon using the inherent net reproductive rate n as a bifurcation parameter. The local existence and uniqueness of a branch of positive equilibria which bifurcates from the trivial (identically zero) solution at the critical value n=1 are proved by implicit function techniques under very mild smoothness conditions on the death and fertility rates as functional of age and population density. This first requires the development of a suitable linear theory. The lowest order terms in the Liapunov-Schmidt expansions are also calculated. This local analysis supplements earlier global bifurcation results of the author. The stability of both the trivial and the positive branch equilibria is studied by means of the principle of linearized stability. It is shown that in general the trivial solution losses stability as n increases through one while the stability of the branch solution is stable if and only if the bifurcation is supercritical. Thus the McKendrick equations exhibit, in the latter case, a standard exchange of stability with regard to equilibrium states as they depend on the inherent net reproductive rate. The derived lower order terms in the Liapunov-Schmidt expansions yield formulas which explicitly relate the direction of bifurcation to properties of the age-specific death and fertility rates as functionals of population density. Analytical and numerical results for some examples are given which illustrate these results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-276
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of mathematical biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1984


  • Age-structured population dynamics
  • bifurcation
  • equilibria
  • stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Mathematics


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