The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Population Ageing

  • David N. Weil
Reference work entry


Population ageing is primarily the result of past declines in fertility, which produced a decades-long period in which the ratio of dependents to working-age adults was reduced. Rising old-age dependency in many countries represents the inevitable passing of this ‘demographic dividend’. Societies use three methods to transfer resources to people in dependent age groups: government, family, and personal saving. In developed countries, families are predominant in supporting children, while government is the main source of support for the elderly. The most important means by which ageing will affect aggregate output is the distortion from taxes to fund public pensions.


Bequests Capital accumulation Capital–labour ratio Demographic dividend Demography Dependency Family transfers Fertility in developed countries Fertility in developing countries Generational crowding India International capital flows Japan Labour supply Mortality Old-age pensions Optimal saving Payroll taxes Population ageing Retirement Saving Social Security in the United States 

JEL Classifications

J11 J10 H55 
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I am grateful to Jagadeesh Gokhale for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David N. Weil
    • 1
  1. 1.