European Demographic Forecasts Have Not Become More Accurate Over the Past 25 Years



Nowadays, demographers, population statisticians, and population forecasters have richer data, more refined theories of demographic behavior, and more sophisticated methods of analysis than they had two or three decades ago. This scientific progress should have made it easier to predict demographic behavior. But analyses of the errors in older forecasts show that demographic forecasts published by statistical agencies in 14 European countries have not become more accurate over the past 25 years. The findings demonstrate that scientific progress in population studies during the previous two to three decades has not kept up with the trend toward less predictable demographic behavior of populations in European countries. There is no reason to be more optimistic about US Census Bureau forecasts. Population forecasts are intrinsically uncertain, hence should be couched in probabilistic terms.