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Study finds the effects of population aging have been exaggerated
Date:9/9/2010

Laxenburg, Austria 9th September 2010. Due to increasing life-spans and improved health many populations are 'aging' more slowly than conventional measures indicate.

In a new study, to be published in Science, (10 September) scientists from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria, Stony Brook University, US, (SBU), and the Vienna Institute of Demography (VID) have developed new measures of aging that take changes in disability status and longevity into account.

The results give policymakers faced with growing numbers of elderly new tools to more accurately determine the cost of an aging population and to determine more appropriate retirement ages. Currently, assessments are frequently based on United Nations aging forecasts that include the proportion of the population that is 65 years and older, and the "old age dependency ratio" (OADR), which considers the number of people dependent on others when they reach age 65.

"Those measures are based on fixed chronological ages, and this can generate misleading results," says Dr Warren Sanderson, from IIASA and SBU. "When using indicators that assume fixed chronological ages, it's assumed that there will be no progress in factors such as remaining life expectancies and in disability rates. But many age-specific characteristics have not remained fixed and are not expected to remain constant in the future."

However, 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 de
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Contact: Leane Regan
regan@iiasa.ac.at
43-664-443-0368
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
Source:Eurekalert

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