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Aileen Daney

aileen.daney@rutgers.edu
484.753.1703

MEMORANDUM
March 26 , 2014
th

TO:

Lyna Wiggins and Michael Smart

FROM:

Aileen Daney

RE:

Methods II - Problem Set 2: Estimating Needs

INTRODUCTION

This assignment used seven unique models to develop a population projection for Delaware
County, PA in 2010. Given that it is 2014 and we have an observed population total for 2010, the
models, particularly when plotted, allow us to see the discrepancies between their outputs and
the actual county population in 2010. Delaware County, Pennsylvania, the selected county of
study for this analysis, got its name from the Delaware River. The county is located in southeast
Pennsylvania, situated between the Delaware state line and Philadelphia County. The Delaware
River serves as a natural boundary for the southeast corner of the county and New Jersey. The
county encompasses a range of varied neighborhoods – from the economically depressed and
crime-ridden city of Chester to the wealthy, posh Main Line suburbs.
Of the seven models, the polynomial method proved to have the best prediction capabilities.
The different model’s predictive power was calibrated using two measures of model fit – the
Mean Absolute Percentage Error (MAPE) and the R2 value – with the exception of the moving
average model as an R2 value cannot be derived from this model. The polynomial method had
the highest R2 value and lowest Mean Absolute Percentage Error. The model with the least
successful predictive power for the county was the modified exponential model. Conversely, in
this model the R2 value was lowest and the Mean Absolute Percentage Error was highest.
POPULATION TOTALS AND CALCULATING MIGRATION

In looking at the population totals for Delaware County, Pennsylvania from 1990 to 2000 we can
see that the county reached its peak population total in 1970. From 1940 to 1970 the population
nearly doubled. This was the era of pre-economic downturn in the urban core, when industry
was booming. For the following two decades after 1970 the population was on a steady decline,
most likely due to the decreased employment opportunities in manufacturing, specifically in
the county’s shipyard and automobile industries. Only in 2000 did the county start to
experience a slight uptick in population. The county again experienced growth in 2010, though
not nearly at the levels observed in early nineteenth-century decades. This growth could
potentially be explained by recent efforts to attract and establish athletic and entertainment
facilities like the Philadelphia Union’s soccer stadium or Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and
Racetrack. Given the county’s blend of urban and town setting and proximity to a major city, it

could also be attracting Millennials who are dissatisfied with suburban, auto-centric places and
who are looking instead to settle in a more well-connected area. This represents only a small
portion of the population increase, though it is a significant national trend.
Table 1 delineates the 2010 projected population with migration by gender and by age cohort.
The 2010 projected county population was calculated by using the population total from 2000
plus births from 2000-2009, minus deaths, and plus a net migration total. The migration residual
for 1990-2000 was calculated by subtracting the 2000 projected population from the 2000
observed population. The 2010 projected population with migration was determined by then
subtracting this residual from the 2010 projected population. This projection with migration was
then used to create another age-sex pyramid.
Table 1.
Projected 2010 Population with Migration
Age
Male
Female
0-4
19,806
11,663
5-9
21,591
14,331
10-14
18,641
20,104
15-19
18,452
18,531
20-24
20,891
14,517
25-29
21,923
12,783
30-34
15,436
14,734
35-39
15,816
18,529
40-44
18,347
21,536
45-49
21,088
22,185
50-54
21,369
19,292
55-59
19,040
15,389
60-64
15,573
11,554
65-69
11,862
8,436
70-74
8,628
8,142
75-79
7,612
7,137
80-84
5,937
5,497
85+
6,506
16,382
Total
288,520
260,744

The projection model with migration calculated a county population of 549,264. The observed
county population, according to the decennial census, was 558,979. This is a difference of 9,715,
or roughly 1.7% of the actual 2010 population. This small under-estimate of the model is likely
due to an under-prediction of females in the county, despite the fact that females historically
outnumber males in the county. This difference could also be due to an under-estimate of both
male and female migration. It is only recent that the county’s population has increased again,
therefore, relying on past data where the population was still decreasing could present a
projection problem.

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AGE-SEX PYRAMID CONCLUSIONS

In terms of gender differences, for 1990 there are a greater number of males in each cohort from
ages 0-19 and then females dominated every cohort from age 20 on. This is not the case for 2000
where males outnumber females in the younger cohorts of ages 0-4 and 15-19. Males, however,
are outnumbered in every other age cohort for 2000. The most startling difference in gender
totals is in 2000 when looking at both sexes, ages 85 and over. There are five times as many
women than men. That is an incredible difference that can possibly be explained simply by the
fact that women, on average, live longer than men. The higher proportion of females in this
cohort may also stem from the economic downturn that occurred in the 1970s whereby the
working-age man of the household needed to relocate from the county and obtain employment
elsewhere, leaving behind women who may have been less affected by the industrial labor
shortcomings.
Figure 1.

Age Cohort

Age-Sex Pyramid for Delaware County, PA 2010
85+
80-84
75-79
70-74
65-69
60-64
55-59
50-54
45-49
40-44
35-39
30-34
25-29
20-24
15-19
10-14
5-9
0-4
30,000

Male
Female

20,000

10,000

0

10,000

20,000

30,000

Population
Source: US Census

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Figure 2.

Age Cohort

Age-Sex Pyramid for Delaware County, PA Projected 2010
85+
80-84
75-79
70-74
65-69
60-64
55-59
50-54
45-49
40-44
35-39
30-34
25-29
20-24
15-19
10-14
5-9
0-4
30,000

Male
Female

20,000

10,000

0

10,000

20,000

30,000

Population

As we can see in Figures 1 and 2, the age-sex pyramid based on the 2010 projected county
population appears to have some startling differences when compared to the 2010 observed
county population. One chief observable difference is that of women 85 and older in the
projected and observed pyramids. The model heartily over-predicted this age cohort. The
model also over-predicted for young males, ages 5-9 and 25-29. All in all, when looking at the
shape of the projected pyramid versus the observed pyramid, it appears generally as if males
are over-predicted and females are slightly under-predicted (except, of course, for the
aforementioned 85+ female cohort).
Overall, in looking at the actual county population figures, we can see that the county is an
aging one, with a greater number of people in cohorts from 75 and up and fewer infants from
ages 0-4, particularly male. The bulk of the population resides around the central age cohorts
and appears to be “moving up” the pyramid with each decade, with little regeneration or
migration in younger cohorts.

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MODEL CONCLUSIONS

Table 2 presents a comprehensive comparison between the seven models’ predictive power. In
summary, the linear, exponential, logarithmic, and power models have roughly the same
moderate model fit. The moving average model can be included among this group as well when
comparing MAPE’s. However, the polynomial model is clearly a superior predictor as nearly
95% of variation in the dependent variable (population total) can be explained by this model.
The modified exponential model appeared to be the worst at doing just that as approximately
only 40% of the variation can be explained by this model.
The moving average model period that gives the best prediction occurs in 2000. As can be
observed by examining the spreadsheet, in this period the predicted value and the observed
value are almost completely aligned. The order of the polynomial model that gives the best fit
is the third order. If the model were to assume the second order instead, the R2 value would
decrease to about 92% rather than about 95%.
Overall, there are particular strengths and weaknesses associated with each of the models. For
instance, a weakness of the linear model is its unforgiving shape and constant direction. What is
meant by this, and how it applies to the Delaware County model, is that because the rigid trend
line of a linear model is locked in to one direction (positive or negative slope), despite the fact
that the county has experienced both an increase and decrease in population, it does not
accurately mimic or predict those fluctuations and nuances. This model’s application would be
best for a county that is historically experiencing a constant and prolonged growth or shrinking
in population. Similarly, the exponential model is probably best suited for a county
experiencing an exponential trend in growth otherwise the predictive power tends to weaken,
as it did for Delaware County’s projection. The logarithmic and power models were both
moderately successful predictors and might be an accepted method depending on the modelers
selected significance value. However, after completing the polynomial model we know that
these two models have room to improve. The polynomial model appeared to fit best with data
from the most recent few decades and appeared to more off-target in the older decades, such as
1950 and 1970.

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Table 2.

Comparing parameter estimates
Delaware County, PA
Model

Equation

R2

Linear

y=ax+b

0.545201

Exponential

y=a*ebx

0.556392

Logarithmic

y=a+b*ln(x)

0.549177

Polynomial

y=ax2+bx+c

0.948778

y=a*xb

0.560415

Power
Moving average

yt=avg(yt-1,yt-2,yt-3,…)

MAPE

Actual
Predicted 2010
2010
2010
APE
11.9% 558,979
15.7%
646,945
12.2% 558,979
22.6%
629,445
11.8% 558,979
15.6%
610,224
4.0% 558,979
1.6%
525,270
12.2% 558,979
684,253
22.4%
12.9%

558,979

1.6%
549,813

Modified
exponential

y=c-a*(b^x)

0.402511

71.2%

558,979

90.2%
594,953

(This addresses Step 2, Step 3, and Step 4 of the Problem Set 2 instructions.)

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MORE TO THE STORY: MAPS OF THE COMMUNITY & PERTINENT COUNTY CHARACTERSTICS

The following satellite image of Delaware County is pertinent to understanding the physical
nature of the community. The image delineates the county’s proximity to Philadelphia’s city
center, as well as its proximity to the city of Wilmington and the more suburban/rural Chester
County. The aerial view also demonstrates how the county’s southern boundary is dictated by
the path of the Delaware River, separating it from New Jersey. Additionally, from the photo we
can see that the eastern portion of the county is more densely developed than the west. These
are the macro-scale features of the county for which this kind of imagery is useful.
Figure 3.

Source: Google Earth

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The following image more finely depicts the county’s shape and composition with the street
network as an overlaid layer. Here we can see that the stretches of city form extend into the
eastern half of Delaware County and down along the waterfront. The heart of the county seems
to revolve around this core oriented on the right side – from Wayne at the top, through Upper
Darby in the middle-right, to Chester at the bottom of the image. This area is not as dense as
Center City, Philadelphia but probably attracts those employed there given the short distance to
downtown. The left side of the county, whose only real hub is historic Chadds Ford, is more like
neighboring Chester County in that there is greater emphasis on the preservation of open land
and less on development. The more sparse road network supports this notion.
Figure 4.

Source: USGenWeb Archives, http://www.usgwarchives.org/maps/pa/county/delawa/usgs/delawalg.jpg

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The story of Delaware County is not an unusual one. Like many other urban counties, Delaware
County experienced a tremendous period of flourishing economic and population growth
spurred by industrial development coupled with its employment opportunities, only to
experience a dramatic decline post-industrial boom. It was during these suburbanizing years
that the county’s population shrunk as the white population in particular moved elsewhere – a
manifestation of the “white flight” trend. This trend, combined with other prejudicial practices
such as red-lining and racial steering, prevented much of the county’s minority population from
experiencing the same freedom of mobility. Even in 2010, the county still ranks as having one of
the highest percentages of black or African American residents, at 19.7%. Figure 5 depicts this
concentration of black or African Americans in urban areas. Philadelphia County is 43.4% black
and New Castle County, Delaware is 23.7% black. The surrounding counties who encircle the
cities of Philadelphia, Chester, and Wilmington have a lower percent of black residents. These
Census maps help to tell a story of the disproportionate amount of African Americans in urban
areas, and Delaware County serves as an exemplar of such.

Figure 5

Source: US Census Bureau, Census Data Mapper, http://tigerweb.geo.census.gov/datamapper/map.html

(This addresses Step 5 and Step 6 of the Problem Set 2 instructions.)
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HOUSING: SUPPLY & DEMAND

Assuming a linear growth based on the county’s population changes from 2000 to 2010, the
projected population for Delaware County in 2020 is 682,387. The expected supply of housing
units is projected to be 228,826. The demolition rates for Delaware County were unavailable so
the national proportion of housing units lost to demolition and disaster were applied to the
county’s data. The units lost to disaster and conversion were also calculated using the assumed
proportion.
There will be an unmet housing demand of 59,873 units for 2011-2020. This number, however, is
a limited snapshot of a construction period and was undoubtedly impacted by the housing
bubble and subsequent recession. We would expect to see a recovery throughout the rest of the
decade rather than a continuation of a slumped building period.
Given that the average household size is increasing, albeit only marginally, we would expect
that perhaps the single-family housing units will slow in their dominance of housing
development. A larger household size could be a reflection of more multi-family units. This
consolidation, however, may be the result of economic hardship brought on by the recession,
and therefore the pooling of financial resources could be only a temporary household trend. In
looking at building permit data the effects of the recession are clearly delineated – there is a
sharp decrease across all unit types, most notably in single-family home development which
was nearly halved.
So, with an increased family size and little to no building permits for multi-family dwelling, it
appears as though there will be a mismatch between available housing type and the housing
demand. This has tremendous implications in housing affordability. The primary concern is
that the limited supply of multi-family dwellings will now be a highly sought after commodity
with a premium price. Perhaps then, many single-family units will be converted to multi-family
units to make up for this gap.
The following figure of percent of vacant units in the county by municipality is included to
illustrate variation within the county. Chester clearly is the most distressed area of the county,
with Darby close behind. These are also the most urbanized areas of the county. This should
perhaps signal a need to reexamine these neglected urbanized areas by policymakers. Perhaps
these vacancies, if addressed and revitalized, could aid in the projected unmet housing demand.

(This addresses Step 7 of the Problem Set 2 instructions.)
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Figure 6

Source: Delaware County GIS Office,
http://www.co.delaware.pa.us/planning/gisinfoservices/census/Map_Vacancy_Rates.pdf

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Using Delaware County’s historical data the seven models, each with varying predictive power,
we were able to create a population projection for the county in 2010. The linear model was then
further applied to a 2020 population projection, as well as a housing projection which paints a
picture of the county’s future. And the future of the county is a positive one. The population
growth will continue, and an unmet housing demand will hopefully turn around once the
lingering effects of the recession dissipate.

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