Population Geography



The dependent elderly population has been generally accepted as those 65 years and above. It is presumed again, like youth dependent population that this subset of population has no independent and active income and they remain dependent for their livelihood on working population. The elderly dependency ratio is defined as the ratio of the number of people aged 65 years and older to the number aged 15 to 64 years. Therefore the total dependency ratio is obtained as the sum of the youth dependency ratio and the elderly dependency ratio. All three dependency ratios are usually expressed as percentages. With the assumption that the potential labor force comprises of the population subset aged 15 to 64 years, the reciprocal of the total dependency ratio is well interpreted to mean the number of potential workers available per dependent person (young or elderly). For instance, if the total dependency ratio is 40 percent or 0.5 (it was about 50 percent in the United States in 2000), the reciprocal 1/0.4 – 2.5 means that the population has two and a half (rounded to three) potential workers for each dependent individual. The reciprocals of the youth dependency ratio and the elderly dependency ratio would have about the same interpretations with the added advantage that they could be used in finer analysis. It is apparent that the higher the dependency ratios, the lower the numbers of potential workers available to support the dependents. The global total dependency ratio rose steadily from 1950 to 1965-70.It has been on a decline ever since. According to the medium projection of UN (1998), the total dependency ratio will reach a plateau near about the year 2015 and then it would gradually move up, as the elderly population subset will increase faster than the youthful population subset will decrease. This would happen due to declining fertility rates in the present which is, in turn, caused by economic development and increased understanding and actual availability of various measures to plan families. The lower fertility in the present would tend to suppress the present day birth rates and improved medical facilities would raise the general life expectancy thus making way for an elderly composition of the population around the predicted year. The conceptual clarity in measuring and projecting dependency ratios critically rests on the assumptions that individuals aged 15 to 64 years represent the potential workers of a population, and that the other individuals represent dependents. These assumptions have been questioned variously (Treas, 2000. Seike, 2001). For instance in many less developed and some more developed countries, children commence employment of some sort, with or without a minimum wage, even before the age of 15 years. In India, Bangladesh, Srilanka, Nepal and Pakistan, for instance, child labor has been a vexing issue and governments in some of these countries have legislated extensively to control the abusive and exploitative use of child labor. However only little to moderate success has been achieved in most jurisdictions. Again in employment markets there has been a distinct trend to prefer retired experience and employees in the age group of 65 years and above are finding

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