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September 09, 2010

Effects of population aging have been exaggerated

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Dependency ratios. Authors’ calculation. OADR and POADR are based on UN, World Population Prospects: The 2008 revision (WPP). ADDR are based on both UN WPP and European Health Expectancy Monitoring Unit Survey Data (see references in article). The lower age boundary in all denominations is 20.

Due to increasing life-spans and improved health many populations are ‘aging’ more slowly than conventional measures indicate.

Many people over 65 are not in need of the care of others, and, on the contrary, may be caregivers themselves. The authors provide a new dependency measure based on disabilities that reflect the relationship between those who need care and those who are capable of providing care, it is called the adult disability dependency ratio (ADDR). The paper shows that when aging is measured based on the ratio of those who need care to those who can give care, the speed of aging is reduced by four-fifths compared to the conventional old-age dependency ratio.

This also highlights the importance of using technology to counteract the level of frailty in the elderly.

Muscle boosting in the elderly is important for maintaining health and independence.


The new work looks at “disability-free life expectancies,” which describe how many years of life are spent in good health. It also explores the traditional measure of old age dependency, and another measure that looks specifically at the ratio of disabilities in adults over the age of 20 in a population. Their calculations show that in the United Kingdom, for example, while the old age dependency ratio is increasing, the disability ratio is remaining constant. What that means, according to the authors, is that, “although the British population is getting older, it is also likely to be getting healthier, and these two effects offset one another.”


Remeasuring age


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