Elderly population by region

In all OECD countries, populations aged 65 years and over have dramatically increased over the last decades, both in size and as a percentage of total population. Elderly people, it turns out, tend to be concentrated in few areas within each country, which means that a small number of regions will have to face a number of specific social and economic challenges raised by ageing population.

Definition

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 elderly dependency rate is defined as the ratio between the elderly population and the working age (15-64 years) population.

Comparability

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, both within and among countries. In order to better show the rural/urban divide, elderly dependency rates are presented for rural and urban regions, but not for intermediary regions, which explains that for some countries, the country average can be outside the rural/urban range.

All the regional data shown here refer to small regions with the exception of Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa.

Overview

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 almost 16% of the OECD population in 2014, up from just over 13% 14 years earlier. The proportion of elderly population is remarkably lower in the emerging economies (South Africa, Brazil and China) and Mexico, Turkey, Chile and Israel.

The elderly population in OECD countries has increased more than three times faster than the total population between 2000 and 2014. The rate of ageing between different parts of 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 retired and the economically active population. In 2014 this ratio was 24% in OECD countries, with substantial differences between countries (42% in Japan versus 11% in Turkey). Differences among regions within the same countries are 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 about the financial self-sufficiency of these regions to generate taxes to pay for the services for the elderly.

Sources

Further information

Analytical publications

Statistical publication

Online databases

Websites

Elderly population
As a percentage of total population, 2000 and 2014
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933334816

Regional elderly population
Average annual growth in percentage, 2000-14
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933335744

Elderly dependency rate in urban and rural regions
Percentage, 2014
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933335890