, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 523–528 | Cite as

On the utility of population forecasts

  • Jeff TaymanEmail author
  • David A. Swanson
Population Forecasting


Many customers demand population forecasts, particularly for small areas. Although the forecast evaluation literature is extensive, it is dominated by a focus on accuracy. We go beyond accuracy by examining the concept of forecast utility in an evaluation of a sample of 2,709 counties and census tracts. Wefind that forecasters provide “value-added” knowledge for areas experiencing rapid change or areas with relatively large populations. For other areas, reduced value is more common than added value. Our results suggest that new forecasting strategies and methods such as composite modeling may substantially improve forecast utility.


Census Tract Forecast Error Mean Absolute Percentage Error Average Percentage Error Population Forecast 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.San Diego Association of GovernmentsSan Diego
  2. 2.Center for Population Research and CensusPortland State UniversityUSA

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