The end of population aging in high-income countries

Warren C. Sanderson, Sergei Scherbov, Patrick Gerland

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Will the population of today's high-income countries continue to age throughout
the remainder of the century? We answer this question by combining two
methodologies, Bayesian hierarchical probabilistic population forecasting and the
use of prospective ages, which are chronological ages adjusted for changes in life
expectancy. We distinguish two variants of measures of aging: those that depend
on fixed chronological ages and those that use prospective ages. Conventional
measures do not, for example, distinguish between 65-year-olds in 2000 and 65-
year-olds in 2100. In making forecasts of population aging over long periods of time,
ignoring changes in the characteristics of people can lead to misleading results. It is
preferable to use measures based on prospective ages in which expected changes
in life expectancy are taken into account. We present probabilistic forecasts of
population aging that use conventional and prospective measures for high-income
countries as a group. The probabilistic forecasts based on conventional measures
of aging show that the probability that aging will continue throughout the century
is essentially one. In contrast, the probabilistic forecasts based on prospective
measures of population aging show that population aging will almost certainly
come to end well before the end of the century. Using prospective measures of
population aging, we show that aging in high-income countries is likely a transitory
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalVienna Yearbook of Population Research
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

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