European Journal of Population

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 351–380 | Cite as

Quantifying Economic Dependency

  • Elke LoichingerEmail author
  • Bernhard Hammer
  • Alexia Prskawetz
  • Michael Freiberger
  • Joze Sambt


In this paper we compare several types of economic dependency ratios for a selection of European countries. These dependency ratios take into account not only the demographic structure of the population, but also the differences in age-specific economic behaviour such as labour market activity, income and consumption as well as age-specific public transfers. In selected simulations where we combine patterns of age-specific economic behaviour and transfers with population projections, we show that in all countries population ageing would lead to a pronounced increase in dependency ratios if present age-specific patterns were not to change. Our analysis of cross-country differences in economic dependency demonstrates that these differences are driven by both differences in age-specific economic behaviour and in the age composition of the populations. The choice of which dependency ratio to use in a specific policy context is determined by the nature of the question to be answered. The comparison of our various dependency ratios across countries gives insights into which strategies might be effective in mitigating the expected increase in economic dependency due to demographic change.


Population ageing National Transfer Accounts (NTA) Economic dependency ratio Age-specific consumption Age-specific labour income 

JEL Classification

J11 J18 



The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007–2013 under grant agreement No. 290647. It has also been supported by funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement No. 613247. This paper uses data from the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC; cross-sectional EU-SILC UDB—version from August 01, 2013). We herewith acknowledge data provision for EU-SILC by EUROSTAT and the European Commission, respectively. Presented results and drawn conclusions are those of the authors and not those of EUROSTAT, the European Commission or any of the national authorities whose data have been used.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Population StudiesChulalongkorn UniversityBangkokThailand
  2. 2.Institute of Statistics and Mathematical Methods in EconomicsVienna University of TechnologyViennaAustria
  3. 3.Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital, (IIASA, VID/OeAW, WU)ViennaAustria
  4. 4.Faculty of EconomicsUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia
  5. 5.Vienna Institute of DemographyViennaAustria

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