For decades, statistical agencies such as the United Nations, the U.S. Census Bureau and Eurostat have provided data and analyses of population aging, assuming that the only characteristic that was relevant to the study of population aging was chronological age. But this is not the case.
Sixty-five-year-olds today have longer remaining life expectancies and score higher on tests of cognitive functioning than 65-year-olds in the past. Data on population aging that ignore the changing characteristics of people produce a distorted picture of the extent of population aging in the future.
Warren Sanderson, a professor in the Department of Economics at Stony Brook University, and Sergei Scherbov, from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, have produced new measures of population aging that take the changing characteristics of people into account.
Some of their measures appeared in the Highlights to the UN’s Report, World Population Ageing, 2017. For the first time, people now have a choice between two types of population aging measures from the United Nations — measures that take the changing characteristics of people into account and those that do not.
This is the first time that research from a Stony Brook professor has been tabulated in an official UN demographic report.