Evaluation of Alternative Cohort-Component Models for Local Area Population Forecasts

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    It is generally accepted by demographers that cohort-component projection models which incorporate directional migration are conceptually preferable to those using net migration. Yet net migration cohort-component models, and other simplified variations, remain in common use by both academics and practitioners because of their simplicity and low data requirements. While many arguments have been presented in favour of using one or other type of model, surprisingly little analysis has been undertaken to assess which tend to give the most accurate forecasts. This paper evaluates five cohort-component models which differ in the way they handle migration, four of which are well known, with one—a composite net migration model—being proposed here for the first time. The paper evaluates the performance of these five models in their unconstrained form, and then in a constrained form in which age–sex-specific forecasts are constrained to independent total populations from an extrapolative model shown to produce accurate forecasts in earlier research. Retrospective forecasts for 67 local government areas of New South Wales were produced for the period 1991–2011 and then compared to population estimates. Assessments of both total and age-specific population forecasts were made. The results demonstrate the superior performance of the forecasts constrained to total populations from the extrapolative model, with the constrained bi-regional model giving the lowest errors. The findings should be of use to practitioners in selecting appropriate models for local area population forecasts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)241-261
    Number of pages21
    JournalPopulation Research and Policy Review
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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