Abstract

Migration is the most difficult component of state and local population growth to forecast accurately because it is more volatile than either births or deaths, and subject to much larger fluctuations within a short period of time. In addition, migration rates can be based on several different measures of migration and the base population. The choice of the appropriate base population has received little attention from demographic researchers, but can have a tremendous impact on population projections. In this article, I develop three different models for projecting migration, each using a different denominator for migration rates. Population projections for ten states are made, using identical data and cohort component techniques, except for the different formulations of migration rates. Differences among the three sets of projections are noted, and conclusions are drawn regarding their usefulness as forecasts of population growth.

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