population projections for China: The problem of uncertainty
is a compilation of selected population projections for China - some of them very recent,
others from a few years ago. Non-demographers may be shocked by the wide range of
population predictions, even for the not too distant future. For instance, for the year
2020 we have a very recent projection of only 1.397 billion from the International
Programs Center of the US Bureau of Statistics. Shen and Spence, however, have projected a
Chinese population of 1.530 billion (scenario A) for the same year.
These discrepancies in population projections for China are mainly due to the huge
current population of China. Even slight differences in fertility or mortality
assumptions can cause discrepancies in projected total
population of up to 200 million or more within a 25-year projection period.
This range of uncertainty is highly relevant to policy-making.
Decision makers must be aware that in the case of China no one can
predict the total population for the year 2025 (or even 2050) within a few million people.
Even a slight change in average reproductive behavior has massive implications for the
total population size. For policymakers it is absolutely essential that
population projections are frequently replicated on a regular basis. Only continuous
monitoring of fertility, mortality, and migration trends - translated into
population projections - can provide a reasonably solid database for estimating China's