Burden of ageing populations may not be so heavy, study

June 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: NSQIP geriatric surgery pilot study may help improve outcomes for older surgical patients

Related Stories

High blood pressure linked to common heart valve disorder

October 17, 2017

For the first time, a strong link has been established between high blood pressure and the most common heart valve disorder in high-income countries, by new research from The George Institute for Global Health at the University ...

Recommended for you

Live fast die young: Updating signal detection theory

October 18, 2017

Signal Detection Theory is a popular and well-established idea that has influenced behavioral science for around 50 years. Essentially, the theory holds that in a predator-prey relationship, prey animals will show more wariness ...

Spider-web 'labyrinths' may help reduce noise pollution

October 17, 2017

(Phys.org)—Researchers have demonstrated that the geometry of a natural spider web can be used to design new structures that address one of the biggest challenges in sound control: reducing low-frequency noise, which is ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.