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Beat Fux (2007)

Population Projections Revisited: A Knowledge-Sociological Analysis of Swiss Population Projections, or Why Demographers Need Population Science*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 32, 3-4/2007, p. 597-620, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, ISSN: 0340-2398

This article aims to carry out an ex-post evaluation of roughly one dozen population projections developed in Switzerland, both at the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) and in university research. It is possible to show, firstly, that since the inter-war period almost all model calculations have underestimated the effective population developments, and in some cases to a considerable degree. Secondly, it is possible to illustrate that particularly in demographic transition phases (such as the late thirties and the seventies) the trend to stir up fears of a shrinking population increases. By means of a comparison between more theory-orientated and formal-demographic model calculations, it is possible to make it clear that the estimation errors of the former tend to be smaller. Furthermore, it is indicated in the scenarios presented here that the quality of the results can only be slightly increased using elaborated estimation procedures. Against this background, we are calling for an intensification of the dialogue between formal demography and social science demographic research. Increased allowance for socio-structural, cultural and family-sociological factors in the model presumptions could certainly increase the benefit gained from population forecasts.

* Original title: Population Projections Revisited: Eine wissenssoziologische Analyse schweizerischer Bevölkerungsprognosen oder weshalb die Demographie der Bevölkerungswissenschaft bedarf (full text in German only)

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