Probabilistic Regional Population Forecasts: The Example of Queensland, Australia

Tom Wilson, Martin Bell

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate


    The variability of demographic trends at the subnational scale, particularly internal and international migration, renders subnational population forecasting more difficult than at the national scale. Illustrating the uncertainty of the demographic future for subnational regions is therefore a crucial element of any set of subnational population forecasts. However, subnational forecasts are currently prepared using deterministic models, which fail to properly address the issue of demographic uncertainty. The traditional high, medium, and low variants approach employed by many national statistical offices poses a number of problems. Probabilistic population forecasting models have the potential to overcome many of these problems, but these models have so far been limited to national-level forecasts. This article reports a first attempt to implement a probabilistic approach to subnational population forecasting using a biregional projection framework. The article sets out the forecasting framework, outlines the approach adopted to formulate each of the assumptions, and presents probabilistic forecasts for 2002-2051 for Queensland and the rest of Australia. The forecasts show a two-thirds probability that Queensland's population in 2051 will be between 5.4 and 7.7 million while the same range for the rest of the country is 18.6 and 22.7 million. The forecasts quantify to what extent greater uncertainty exists about the demographic future at the subnational compared with the national scale.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-25
    Number of pages25
    JournalGeographical Analysis
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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