With changing and evolving time, human demographics such as age, gender, population density, mortality rates and even birth rates have changed. Some of these changes have been for the benefit on the society, while some can prove to be extremely harmful. The fluctuation in itself can become an issue. The one issue that has been seen in the recent past is of the aging population; the effects of this issue have been increasing drastically and are proving to be an impact of the negative kind for the society and a country as a whole.
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As the name suggests, aging population or demographic aging is the movement of the age structure and distribution of world populations towards the older ages causing the majority of the world population to be elderly. This has been the direct impact and result of the continuous global fertility transition, which is basically the decline in the fertility rates of men and women. Additionally, another major reason is the mortality decline – normally, mortality decline is a sign of rising standards of living of a country; but this reduction of mortality rates is only at a higher older age which causes the older people to live longer leading to the general shift of the population towards older ages.
Population aging is becoming increasingly common in the industrialized nation beginning from the 21st century and is now continuing to cause harm to the population. Countries and rural areas that had started experiencing the reduction in fertility rates are now clearly becoming aged. Population aging might not seem like such a big problem, but if this condition is analyzed from a socio-economic perspective, one will evidently realize that there is an increasing dependency ratio in the country. Along with the increasing dependency ratio, the health of the general population declines, causing them to become even more dependent on others. Increase in dependency ratio means that people increasingly less independent and have to rely on others to get their work done (Gavrilov & Heuveline, 2003). For example, an old man cannot be the bread winner of the family; he is generally to weak or sick to be able to perform an everyday proper job and to be able to feed himself, let alone his entire family. Such an individual is either dependent on his children or his other relatives for sustenance. However, with increasing progression in the world, the nature of the people becomes more and more detached from others with a sense of individualism instead of family life. Therefore, without family support, these aged and dependent people end up getting admitted to an old age home. This leads to the bankruptcy of Medicare Programs and social insurance and welfare programs because it is difficult for them to handle so many individuals at the same time. Also, this leads to a dwindling labor force causing the entire productivity or the organization to go below par leading the total output of the nation to fall – this has a direct affect on the Gross Domestic Product of a country and eventually its living standards and ranking in the world (Weil, 1997).
Measures of Aging Population
There are a few ways to determine or measure the amount of aging individuals and compare it with the general statistics of the world to see and analyze the situation of a certain country as opposed to the other countries and the general level of aging population in the world.
One of the measures is the one mentioned above, the elderly dependency ratio (EDR), which is the measurement and comparison of the number of people in their retirement age as against those in working ages. Another measure is the aging index, which is another way of measuring the same result, just captured in a different style. This is defined as “the number of people aged 65 and over per 100 youths under age 15” (Demeny, 2003). If the aging index is higher than 100, then it means that the population is aging and elderly; but if the aging index is lower than 100, it means that the population is young.
An indicator of aging population is head-count ratios, another of which is the measures of location using the mode, mean, median. The percentile and the graphs of aging population can be represented using a population pyramid.
Currently, only a few countries are facing issues of an aging population; some of which are Italy, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Japan and Greece. But it is said according to a report that in a few years time, around a decade or so later, almost all developed countries will face this issue (UNDP, 2005). A report was written in 2002 by the Population Divison, for which the research was extended from the figures of 1950-2050; the report concluded that aging population is unprecedented, pervasive, enduring and has found profound impacts on a society in many respects.
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Gavrilov, L. and Heuveline, P., Aging of Population, This is a manuscript of our article in The Encyclopedia of Population. New York, Macmillan Reference USA, (2003).
United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2005: International Cooperation at a Crossroads-Aid, Trade and Security in an Unequal World, (2005).
Weil, David N., “The Economics of Population Aging” in Mark R. Rosenzweig and Oded Stark, eds., Handbook of Population and Family Economics, New York: Elsevier, (1997).