Uncertainty in population forecasts for the twenty-first century

Nico Keilman

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Published in:

Annual Review of Resource Economics, Volum 12, 2020

DOI: 10.1146/annurev-resource-110319-114841


The aim of this article is to review a number of issues related to uncertain population forecasts, with a focus on world population. Why are these forecasts uncertain? Population forecasters traditionally follow two approaches when dealing with this uncertainty, namely scenarios (forecast variants) and probabilistic forecasts. Early probabilistic population forecast models were based upon a frequentist approach, whereas current ones are of the Bayesian type. I evaluate the scenario approach versus the probabilistic approach and conclude that the latter is preferred. Finally, forecasts of resources need not only population input, but also input on future numbers of households. While methods for computing probabilistic country-specific household forecasts have been known for some time, how to compute such forecasts for the whole world is yet an unexplored issue.

Published Nov. 9, 2020 10:30 AM - Last modified Jan. 20, 2021 2:20 PM