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Conference on Population Ageing in Industrialised Countries: Challenges and Issues

NuPRI, Tokyo, 19-21 March 2001

Organised by
the IUSSP Committee on Population Age Structure and Public Policy
the Nihon university Population Research Institute (NuPRI)

Call for Papers

The age structural dynamics of a population and Public policy are strongly interrelated. Age structural transitions include declines in mortality and fertility, as well as related changes in family and social arrangements. Policy affected by transitions covers aspects of human needs (e.g., human development, education, labour force, health), economic (e.g., savings and consumption, fiscal, taxes), and institutional aspects (e.g., governance, planning, implementation). Public policies aim to improve the welfare of a population; population welfare in turn is determined and shaped by the needs of present and future population; a population’s needs and its potential are strongly shaped by its demographic composition – i.e., by age-structural transitions. The committee believes that transitions may be analysed in three (not exclusive) groupings: countries in emergent demographic transitions faced with substantial developmental challenges, countries in a later transitional stage facing challenges of economic and institutional change, and post-transitional countries facing challenges relating to ageing, low fertility, and so on.

This conference will focus primarily on the third group, i.e. post-transitional countries. Over the past few decades, there have been rapid changes in the age structures of populations in many developed countries. In Western Europe, North America, Australia and Japan, the proportion of people aged 60 and over is increasing markedly and is raising formidable social and economic challenges related to the financial support of elderly people and to the provision of care for frail elderly. These fast changes in the age structures of populations have been driven by declines in fertility and increases in life expectancy, especially at very old ages.

In addition, the patterns of family formation and dissolution have changed significantly in recent years. In all industrialised countries, people have been marrying later and consensual unions have become increasingly common. Women in all developed countries have been changing the timing of childbearing over their lives. As the decline in fertility followed prolonged baby booms in most countries, the size of cohorts entering labour and marriage markets has also changed enormously. The decline in fertility was also accompanied by continuing falls in mortality, which in some countries, like Japan, have been dramatic, and which may have played a role in altering the interaction among family members during their lives as well as producing a more aged population. All these demographic changes have altered the dependency structure of populations, thus generating a wide range of disruptions at both societal and familial levels.

A major aim of the conference is to explore the economic, social, and demographic consequences of these transformations in the age structures of the population and related developments in family patterns. These consequences include changes in people’s economic behaviour, particularly in the labour market, but also regarding patterns of consumption and intergenerational transfers of money and care, and changes in economic inequality among families, households and individuals. Furthermore, there are consequences for state policies, including education, taxation systems, income support, state pensions and other redistributive policies. For instance, women’s labour supply and human capital accumulation appear particularly likely to be affected by age structural transformations and related developments in family patterns. Their labour force participation over the life cycle, lifetime earnings profiles and pension rights are all likely to be influenced.

But, of course, the changes in age structures of population and in family patterns did not occur in a vacuum. They were influenced by economic developments, like changes in women’s earning opportunities, and by state policies. For instance, equal opportunities policies may have changed the timing of childbearing and family size and patterns of union formation and dissolution.

This conference will bring together experts that will examine the relations between changes in the age structures of populations on one hand, and families, government policies, and markets on the other. Some papers will also be devoted to an analysis of the changing status of elderly people as the processes of age structural shifts advance.

The conference will include both invited and submitted papers. Limited funding is available to help defray the costs of attendees. The organisers invite submissions in the form of detailed abstracts or full-length papers. Submissions should be sent to Shripad Tuljapurkar (tulja@mvr.org), Naohiro Ogawa (ogawa@eco.nihon-u.ac.jp) and Anne Gauthier (gauthier@ucalgary.ca)  Deadline: 15th October, 2000.