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Demographic projections ‘often wide of the mark’

Predictions and projections about demographics should always be treated with caution, the Australian Research Council has warned.

Senior Research Fellow Rafal Chomik, from the council’s Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research, has examined figures and trends from 1945 to this year.

Population growth is one area where projections have differed wildly.

“There is a historical tendency in Australia to underestimate population growth,” he said.

“This was most recently seen in [this year’s] Intergenerational Report, where the total population expected in 2050 was revised upward to 38 million from the 2002 Intergenerational Report projection of 26 million.”

Ageing projections, plus the underlying demographic components of fertility, migration and life expectancy, also stray from reality, he says.

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