International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy
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International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy

Sarah Harper, Kate Hamblin, Jaco Hoffman, Kenneth Howse and George Leeson

The International Handbook on Ageing and Public Policy explores the challenges arising from the ageing of populations across the globe for government, policy makers, the private sector and civil society. It examines various national state approaches to welfare provisions for older people, and highlights alternatives based around the voluntary and third-party sector, families and private initiatives. The Handbook is highly relevant for academics interested in this critical issue, and offers important messages for policy makers and practitioners.
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Chapter 5: Migration and ageing societies

Sarah Harper


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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