Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.13, No.3, 1997. pp. 227243

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The Effect of Uncertainty of Migration on National Population Forecasts: The Case of the Netherlands

Although in the Netherlands natural population growth (the excess of births over deaths) is larger than net migration, international migration has become the main source of uncertainty of forecasts of population growth, at least in the short and medium run. This calls for two types of response. First, obviously, one should try to reduce uncertainty by improving migration forecasts. Secondly, forecasters should provide an accurate indication of the degree of uncertainty of future migration and its implications on the uncertainty of forecasts of population size and age structure. On the basis of Dutch data, this article shows how the effect of the uncertainty of migration can be assessed both by analyzing historical forecast errors and by modelling forecast errors. With the help of Monte-Carlo simulations the effect of uncertainty of migration can be compared with that of fertility and mortality.

Population projections; forecast errors; international migration; time-series models; simulations.

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