Uncertain population forecasting

Juha M. Alho, Bruce D. Spencer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

70 Scopus citations


Errors in population forecasts arise from errors in the jump-off population and errors in the predictions of future vital rates. The propagation of these errors through the linear (“Leslie”) growth model is studied, and prediction intervals for future population are developed. For U.S. national forecasts, the prediction intervals are compared with the U.S. Census Bureau’s high—low intervals. To assess the accuracy of the predictions of future vital rates, we derive the predictions from a parametric statistical model and estimate the extent of model misspecification and errors in parameter estimates. Subjective, “expert” opinion, so important in real forecasting, is incorporated with the technique of mixed estimation. A robust regression model is used to assess the effects of model misspecification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-314
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Statistical Association
Issue number390
StatePublished - Jun 1985


  • Census bureau
  • Leslie model
  • Mixed estimation
  • Population forecasting
  • Population projections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty

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