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J Am Stat Assoc. 1994 Dec;89(428):1,175-89.

Stochastic population forecasts for the United States: beyond high, medium, and low.


"This article presents and implements a new method for making stochastic population forecasts that provide consistent probability intervals. We blend mathematical demography and statistical time series methods to estimate stochastic models of fertility and mortality based on U.S. data back to 1900 and then use the theory of random-matrix products to forecast various demographic measures and their associated probability intervals to the year 2065. Our expected total population sizes agree quite closely with the Census medium projections, and our 95 percent probability intervals are close to the Census high and low scenarios. But Census intervals in 2065 for ages 65+ are nearly three times as broad as ours, and for 85+ are nearly twice as broad. In contrast, our intervals for the total dependency and youth dependency ratios are more than twice as broad as theirs, and our ratio for the elderly dependency ratio is 12 times as great as theirs. These items have major implications for policy, and these contrasting indications of uncertainty clearly show the limitations of the conventional scenario-based methods."

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