Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

When Forecasting Aging Policy-Makers Need to Adjust for Increases in Longevity and Health

13.09.2010
Indicators of aging based only on chronological age are misleading and need to be adjusted to take into account advances in health and life expectancy, a Stony Brook professor and colleague from the Austrian Academy of Sciences report in the September 10, 2010 issue of Science1, 2.

The article, entitled "Remeasuring Aging," by Professor Warren Sanderson of Stony Brook’s Department of Economics and Sergei Scherbov of the Vienna Institute of Demography (Austrian Academy of Sciences), both affiliated with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, calls for the adoption of the adult disability dependency ratio, which measures aging based on the ratio of those who need care to those who can give care.

According to the study, the policy dialog on aging has been based on misleading information.

“Most of our information about aging comes from indicators published by the United Nations and statistical agencies,” said Sanderson. “ These indicators, which are used worldwide to determine health care and retirement costs, are based on chronological age and in many instances consider people as being old when they reach age 65 or even earlier.”

“With advances in health and life expectancy, measuring population aging presents a problem to demographers because the meaning of the number of years lived has changed,” the authors write. “In Western Europe in 1800, for example, less than 25 percent of males would survive to age 60, while today more than 90 percent of them do. A 60-year old man in Western Europe today has around the same remaining life expectancy as a 43-year-old man in 1800. Today, a person who is 60 is considered middle-aged; in 1800, that 60-year-old was elderly. “

Traditionally the old-age dependency ratio, OADR, (the number of people above age 65+ to people in working ages) was used to assess the burden to the society of supporting elderly people. The increase of old age-dependency ratio was considered to reflect the growing burden on pension systems because of aging. “But this measure is now out of date, because people live longer and someone at age 65 is not an old person anymore,” the authors write. “In the U.S., the normal pension age is now 66, is scheduled to rise to 67, and is likely to be increased further as a means to keep the Social Security system solvent. Current legislation has normal pension ages rising in Germany, England, and other countries. As normal pension ages rise, the old-age dependency ratio provides a more and more biased indicator of the burden of aging on pension systems. “

The same sort of bias occurs if policy-makers were to use the old-age dependency ratio as an indicator of the burden of aging on health care costs. Most health care costs occur in the last few years of life and these years happen at ever later ages as life expectancies increase.

The authors write that one area in which this rethinking is crucial is in measuring the burden of disability. “The traditional measure of old age dependency counts everyone 65+ years old as being a dependent on those in the working ages. However, many people over the age of 65 are not disabled and in the need of the care of others, but, on the contrary, are capable of providing care to others. On the other hand, some people below the age of 65 are disabled and in the need of care.”

In the Science article, the authors provide a new dependency measure they developed called the adult disability dependency ratio (ADDR), based on disabilities that reflect the relationship between those who need care and those who are capable of giving it. Their study shows that when aging is measured based on this ratio, the speed of aging is reduced by four-fifths compared to the conventional old-age dependency ratio.

The article is the latest in a series on aging by the authors that began with a 2005 Nature article that provided new measures of aging that take life expectancy change into account. “The first step is we redefined the concept of age because most people, when you ask how old they are, they’ll tell you how many birthdays they had,” Sanderson said. “We thought a better way to think of this is how many birthdays you have in your future. That’s what your life expectancy is. It’s like adjusting economic data for inflation.”

The authors then used that concept to create new aging measures for all countries of the world from 1955 and onward to 2045 based on the U.N. population forecasts. With the Science article, due to be published Sept. 10, 2010, they go one step further and also take disability into account with the ADDR.

“It makes a big difference. There’s a lot of panic about aging,” Sanderson said of the ADDR. “They say ‘It’s going happen so fast and cause troubles and difficulties.’ I think when you say there are many ways to look at aging, many of these things don’t look as bad. We’re hoping this will start a new dialog based on better science.”

One reason why policy-makers have kept on using out of date measures that do not take life expectancy changes into account is that there used to be no simple alternative to the UN measures. The reasons why policy-makers have not used measures of aging like the ADDR that are adjusted for changes in disability rates are the lack of comparable data and the lack of an appropriate methodology. In the Science paper Sanderson and Scherbov use internationally harmonized data and develop a computer model that provides disability-based forecasts for high income OECD countries.

“Policy-makers now have a wider variety of aging measures available to them,” the authors write. “When health and longevity are taken into account, measures of aging increase much less rapidly than they do when the implicit assumption is made that all improvements in health and longevity will suddenly come to a halt.

“Population aging will certainly be the source of many challenges in coming decades. But there is no reason to exaggerate those challenges through mismeasurement. We will be able to address those problems better with a larger array of measures of aging, using those that are appropriate to the task at hand.”

Part of the State University of New York system, Stony Brook University encompasses 200 buildings on 1,450 acres. In the 50+ years since its founding, the University has grown tremendously, now with nearly 24,700 students and 2,200 faculty and is recognized as one of the nation’s important centers of learning and scholarship. It is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, and ranks among the top 100 national universities in America and among the top 50 public national universities in the country according to the 2010 U.S. News & World Report survey. Considered one of the “flagship” campuses in the SUNY system, Stony Brook University co-manages Brookhaven National Laboratory, joining an elite group of universities, including Berkeley, University of Chicago, Cornell, MIT, and Princeton that run federal research and development laboratories. SBU is a driving force of the Long Island economy, with an annual economic impact of $4.65 billion, generating nearly 60,000 jobs, and accounts for nearly 4% of all economic activity in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and roughly 7.5 percent of total jobs in Suffolk County.

All requests for copies of the paper should be submitted to the Office of Public Programs at AAAS/Science (scipak@aaas.org, or 202-326-6440); journalists will be supplied with a copy of the paper within 15 minutes of their request during normal business hours.

Darren Johnson | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.stonybrook.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution
09.12.2016 | Veterans Affairs Research Communications

nachricht Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>