Can Theory Improve Population Forecasts?

Keyfitz, N. (1982). Can Theory Improve Population Forecasts? IIASA Working Paper. IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria: WP-82-039

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Scholarly work on population includes many mechanisms accounting for changes in the components of population: births, deaths, and migration. Very little of this is used by forecasters, or even referred to in the forecasting texts. The present review of the more promising theory and empirical reports in demographic journals has as its object their incorporation in forecasting techniques.

Some of the theory relates population to variables pertaining to the economy, to technology, or to social change; to use such models would require forecasts of the independent variables of the models. We know much about how fertility depends on income, but until we can forecast income (say 20 years ahead) that relation tells nothing about future population. Some theory relates population to variables difficult to measure, like the utility of children. Other parts again, like the demographic transition, are of uncertain timing. Much of mathematical demography constitutes comparative statics, which are conditional, whereas the user of forecasts requires unconditional statements.

The perspective of usefulness for forecasting provides an illuminating, if severe, review of contemporary population research.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: Human Settlements and Services Area (HSS)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 01:51
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:10

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