Handbooks of Research on Public Policy series
Chapter 5: Migration and ageing societies
Europe, as all countries in the Developed Regions of the world, has gone through considerable population ageing over the past century. This age-structural transition from predominantly young to predominantly older populations emerges at the end of the classic demographic transition (Bloom et al., 2003; Pool, 2005). Taking an age-structural change perspective allows us to view population change in terms of a shift between providers and dependants – the dependency ratio – and how this will typically move from a large percentage of young to large percentage of old dependants during the demographic transition. These ratios comprise Elderly Dependency Ratios (EDR), the number of persons of working age (aged 15 to 64) per person aged 65 or over; Youth Dependency Ratios (YDR), the number of persons of working age (aged 15 to 64) per person aged 15 or under; and Total Dependency Ratios, number of those 15–64 with those outside this age range. It must of course be noted that these accepted broad age categories are in practice a mere proxy for productivity/non-productivity. A population with a large percentage of young productive adults has the potential to produce a ‘demographic dividend’. This usually occurs late in the demographic transition when a series of large birth cohorts is followed by a set of far smaller ones as total fertility rates fall, resulting in a decrease in young dependants, and thus a fall in the YDR.
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