A Cointegration Analysis of Population Aging

Gustavo De Santis , University of Florence
Giambattista Salinari, Università degli Studi di Sassari

While “classical” demography imputes population ageing to low fertility, a recent “revisionist” line of thinking signals the emergence of an ageing “from the top” (i.e., due to low mortality), starting slightly after World War II. We join this debate with two contributions. On the one hand, we try to assess and put in perspective the way counterfactual analysis has generally been used in this domain. On the other, we show that, in the long run, mortality impacts on the population age structure, and on ageing, more than it is customarily believed. With data taken from the Human Mortality Database (HMD) on 13 populations located in Europe, North America and Oceania, we show that a cointegration relationship exists between the actual age structure in year t and what we call the reference age structure, that is the age structure of the stationary population associated with the period life table of year t. This means that most of the change observed in the proportion of young, adult and old people in these countries can be derived solely from the change in survival, ignoring fertility and migration, and this for a very long time interval, dating back to as much as the data allows, up to two centuries.

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 Presented in Session 27. Data and Methods