Ellen M Gee
Ageing misconceptions and misapprehensions about
Dimensions of “population ageing as crisis” thinking (two examples of earlier
demographic alarmism )
1. Eugenics movement that focused on reproductive onctrol as a way to
preserve and improve the White race.
--in Canada, attempts were made to lower the fertility of non-Whites and
less socially desirable Whites
--oriental exclusion act in the 1920s
--fertility and migration were being used in an attempt to preserve an earlier
version of society
2. formulation of the “population bomb” in the decades following WW2.
--birth control movement: while it is the south that grew rapidlyin population,
it is the
north that defined this as a “bomb”
--the birth control movement failed.
The two examples show that demography can be and has been used to reconstruct
and redefine social problems in ways taht fit a political agenda, or at least calibrate
with current and popular ideological positions,
The uncertianty of demographic projections
Future fertility levels are especially hard to predict, since fertility is subject to a
complex interaction of forces. it’s assumed in the west the fertility will stay farily
close to its current levels. However, things like truely family-friendly policy can
Given fertility is the major determinant of age structure, any substantial increase
would delay population ageing, since net migration does not play a large role in
dteriming national age structures, changes in assumptions aobut it ahve a lesser
impact. (however, large refugees can influence a lot)
Reliance on dependency ratios
--Dependency ratios measure the ratio of people in so-called dependent ages (arbitraraily defined as 0-15 or 0-18 or 0-20 and age 65 over) to people in the
-- can be separated to construct a youth dependency ratio and an aged dependency
--it is important to look at youth and total dependency ratios and not fixate on the
aged dependency ratio only.
--the youth and total dependency ratios have counterbalancing effets on the total
--Canada as an example: the basically unchanged situation is caused by a large
increase in the aged dependency ratio and a large decrease in the youth dependency
Dependency ratios themselves are problematic:
1. It makes the arbitrary assumption that people below and above a certain age
2. Dependency ratios do not count unwaged labors. Old women do a
significant amoung of cargiving for their spouses
3. It ignores the inter-dependence and reciprocity that make up the fabric of
Homogenization of the elderly population
The aged are often viewed as sick and frail non-contributors to society—useers of
social programs who give nothing in return. Old people as “greedy geezers” who
are financially well-off and healthy people with leisure time taking advantage of
soical services they can afford to pay for themselves.
The baby boomers are expected to be bettter condition than today’s old
The population ageing itself will account for only a small part of future health care
costs and will reuqire little, if any, increase in public expenditures for health care.
The ageing population isnt the reason for increased health costs. It is the rising
costs for pharmaceutical industry, supply of physicians, etc.
Population ageing in Canada and US
Population ageing is not a new phenomenon in either Canada or US. Both
countries have been growing older from teh time the nations were established as
independent states. Population ageing in Canada and US is also not transient 暂时
Projection says that Canada and US population will grow older over the next fifty
years, although the pace of aging will slow toward the end of the period.
This demographic shift has gone hand in hand with their development from fledgling nations with agrarian economies to major powers with post-industrial
economies and largely urban populations.
What makes Canada and US different from other ageing countries?
An intitial abundance of land, long traditions of inter