Production activities and economic dependency by age and gender in Europe: A cross-country comparison

Bernhard Hammer, Alexia Prskawetz, Inga Freund

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


We compare selected European countries using an economic dependency ratio which emphasizes the
role of age-specific levels of production and consumption. Our analysis reveals large differences in the
age- and gender-specific level and type of production activities across selected European countries and
identifies possible strategies to adjust age-specific economic behaviour to an ageing population. The
cross-country differences in economic dependency of children and elderly persons are largely determined
by the age at which people enter, respectively exit, the labour market. The ability of the working age population
to support children and elderly persons in turn is strongly influenced by the participation of
women in paid work. We also provide a measure for the age-specific production and consumption in
form of unpaid household work. The inclusion of unpaid household work leads to a decrease of the gender
differences in production activities and indicates that the working age population supports children
and elderly persons not only through monetary transfers but also through services produced by unpaid
work (e.g. childcare, cooking, cleaning. . .). Given the available data, we cannot distinguish the age profile
of consumption by gender and have to assume - in case of unpaid work - that each member of the household
consumes the same. Hence, our results have to be regarded as a first approximation only. Our paper
aims to argue that a reform of the welfare system needs to take into account not only public transfers but
also private transfers, in particular the transfers in form of goods and services produced through unpaid
household work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-97
JournalThe Journal of the Economics of Ageing
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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