Population, Projections, And Policy: A Cautionary Perspective
Population projections depend on censuses, vital statistics, and sample surveys, all of which have deficiencies that are most marked in developing countries. Long-range projections by international agencies have recently undergone major revisions, and forecasts of the United States (U.S.) population have changed drastically over the past four years. The United Nations (UN) typically prepares high, medium, and low projections. Even the high projection contains optimistic assumptions about fertility decline, while assumptions of constant or increasing fertility receive no serious attention. This paper suggests that high and constant fertility projections should receive more attention from policymakers. They should treat medium estimates as targets achievable only through considerable programmatic effort. At the same time, they should plan economic and environmental efforts to deal with the population sizes implied by the high projections.
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