Burden of ageing populations may not be so heavy, study

Jun 13, 2005

Many analysts have argued that the ageing populations of developing nations represent an economic time bomb for future generations who will have to work to support them. But these fears may not necessarily be justified, according to a study in last week's Nature.

Current estimates of a population's age are based on the average number of years that people have been alive. But more important is the number of years they have left to live, point out Warren Sanderson and Sergei Scherbov. So they have redefined the average age by taking into account how life expectancy will change. The system uses 2000 as a reference year, so if the remaining life expectancy of a 30-year-old in 2000 is 50 years, say, and that of a 40-year-old in 2050 is also 50 years, then the future 40-year-old will have a 'standardized' age of 30.

Using this method throws up some interesting predictions, as populations can effectively become 'younger' through increases in life expectancy, as well as through increased birth rates. Sanderson and Scherbov estimate how the proportion of elderly dependents in a society will change over the twenty-first century for Japan, Germany and the United States - three countries thought to be most at risk from ageing. In fact, the researchers argue, the economic burden of elderly people should begin to decline by the end of the century.

More details: "Average remaining lifetimes can increase as human populations age" Nature 435, 811-813 (9 June 2005)

Explore further: Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Aging research goes to the dogs

Apr 15, 2014

From ancient alchemical quests to modern biological research, efforts to understand and combat human aging have borne few fruits. Now Cornell scientists aim to bridge the gap between lab research and aging's ...

Debating the future of infrastructure

Apr 15, 2014

Cities face much of the burden of preparing for global changes—whether climate shocks, rapid population growth, or population decline, when industries relocate. Beneath every skyline, a city's leaders and ...

Guns aren't the only things killing cops

Apr 11, 2014

The public does not realize—in fact, police themselves may not realize—that the dangers police officers are exposed to on a daily basis are far worse than anything on "Law and Order."

The science of anatomy is undergoing a revival

Apr 10, 2014

Only two decades ago, when I was starting my PhD studies at the University of California in Berkeley, there was talk about the death of anatomy as a research subject. That hasn't happened. Instead the science ...

Recommended for you

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

4 hours ago

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.