In all OECD countries, populations aged 65 years
and over have dramatically increased over the last 30 years, both in size and as a
percentage of total population. As elderly people tend to be concentrated in few areas
within each country, a small number of regions will have to face a number of specific
social and economic challenges and opportunities raised by ageing population.
The elderly population is the number of
inhabitants of a given region aged 65 or older. The population can be either the
average annual population or the population at a specific date during the year
considered. The average population during a calendar year is generally calculated as
the arithmetic mean of the population on 1 January of two consecutive years.
The elderly dependency rate is defined as the
ratio between the elderly population and the working age (15-64 years) population.
As for the other regional statistics, the
comparability of elderly population data is affected by differences in the definition
of the regions and the different geography of rural and urban communities (see
Population by region), both within and among countries.
All the regional data shown here refer to small
regions with the exception of Brazil, China, India, the Russian Federation and
In most OECD countries the population is
ageing. Due to higher life expectancy and low fertility rates, the elderly
population (those aged 65 years and over), accounts for 14% of OECD population in
2008. The proportion of elderly population is remarkably lower in the emerging
economies (Brazil, China, India, and South Africa) and Mexico and Turkey.
The elderly population in OECD countries has
increased more than 1.5 times faster than the total population between 1995 and
2008. The rate of ageing within a country can be quite different, as an increase
in the geographic concentration of the elderly may arise from inward migration of
the elderly or by ageing “in place” because the younger generations have moved out
of the regions.
The ratio of the elderly to the working age
population, the elderly dependency rate, is steadily growing in OECD countries.
The elderly dependency rate gives an indication of the balance between the
economically active and the retired population. In 2008 this ratio was around 22%
in OECD countries, with substantial differences between countries (34% in Japan
versus 9% in Mexico). Differences among regions within the same countries were
also large. The higher the regional elderly dependency rate, the higher the
challenges faced by regions in generating wealth and sufficient resources to
provide for the needs of the population. Concerns may arise on the financial
self-sufficiency of these regions to generate taxes to pay for these services.