Population Aging: How Should It Be Measured?

Jeroen J. A. Spijker, University of Edinburgh
John MacInnes, University of Edinburgh

Public concern about the rising number of older dependent citizens does not take proper account of rising life expectancy or changes in the labor force. The standard indicator of population ageing is the old-age dependency ratio (OADR) that takes the population who have reached the state pension age and divides it by those of ‘working age’ (16-64 years) to measure the dependent elderly population relative to those who are supposed to pay for them. However, the OADR counts neither the dependent elderly nor those who sustain them. Building on research by others, we therefore propose several alternative and more objective measures of ageing that consider improvements in old-age survival, time to death and the changing employed population. Results for the US show that society is aging far less than previously thought.

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Presented in Session 223: Measurement and Projections of Population Aging