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Population ageing in Europe and Asia: beyond traditional perspectives

PhD ceremony:Mr A. (Arun) Balachandran
When:October 22, 2020
Supervisors:prof. dr. F. (Fanny) Janssen, prof. dr. K.S. James, prof. dr. L.J.G. (Leo) van Wissen
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Spatial Sciences
Population ageing in Europe and Asia: beyond traditional

Population ageing is the central demographic concern in Europe and Asia. Traditional perspectives on population ageing are based on fixed old-age thresholds, such as age 65, which are not ideal for cross-country comparisons, as they do not consider the multiple dimensions of population ageing. Moreover, previous population ageing studies often ignored the diversity of the ageing processes across countries, men and women, and socio-economic groups.

This thesis compared current and future population ageing in Europe and Asia using new comparative ageing indicators that consider differentials in life expectancy, health, and human capital across European and Asian populations.

This new perspective shows that the differences in the current and the projected population ageing trends in Europe and in Asia are smaller than were previously estimated. However, it appears that this diversity in population ageing trends is more pronounced across regions, men and women, and educational groups than was previously estimated. The share of elderly in the population has been found to be higher in populations with lagging life expectancy, health, and human capital attainments: i.e., in most Asian countries, among women in the developing countries of Asia and in Eastern Europe, and among the lower educated in both continents. In the future, levels of population ageing are expected to increase further, particularly in Asia, where the responsiveness of population ageing to increases in education is likely to be high. 

Our results suggest that investments in health and human capital, especially among vulnerable groups, such as the less educated and women in Asia, are needed to delay the onset of ‘old age’ for these groups, and to reduce population ageing and its negative societal consequences.