Implications of aged and youth dependency

Most MEDCs are experiencing slow rates of population growth and some are experiencing population decline.

Most MEDCs are in stage 4 of the demographic transition model - the population is high, but not growing.

Some countries have a declining population and could be said to be entering stage 5.

This means that the birth rate in their country has fallen below the death rate. Most MEDCs have a very low rate of natural increase.

The average life expectancy in MEDCs is rising. This is due to:

  • improvements in health care and medicine;
  • increased leisure and recreation time;
  • improved knowledge about the importance of a balanced diet and regular exercise;
  • improved living standards and quality of life.

Birth rates in MEDCs are falling as people choose to have smaller families later in life. Contraception is easily available and well understood.

An aging population

Photograph of elderly people

  • As people live longer, the structure of a population changes.
  • Many MEDCs are now experiencing a significant increase in the number of elderly people as a proportion of the population.
  • As birth rates fall and people have smaller families, the number of young dependants is falling and the number of elderly dependants is rising.
  • In the near future this will mean that there are fewer economically active people to support the elderly population.
  • To try to balance out an ageing population, some countries adopt a pro-natalist policy - that is, they encourage people to have more children by offering them benefits, such as access to childcare and maternity leave.

Implications of an aged dependency population

Social implications Economic implications
1. Care for the aged: This will include medical services and expensive residential accommodation.1. Benefits: Each pensioner will receive a pension in an MEDC for 20 or more years. Additional benefits such as free bus passes, TV licences and winter fuel payments will be a large cost to the taxpayer.
2. Family life: Hard decisions have to be taken about the best care for an elderly person. 65 year old children will end up caring for their 90 year old parents.2. Healthcare: Cost of residential care and healthcare can be expensive. Prescriptions, dental care, home help and hospital care can all cost a lot of money
3. Medical advances: People live longer. However, many older people now struggle with late onset and degenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.3. Residential care: More money needs to be set aside to help look after the older people. Accommodation might need to be modified or special pensioner bungalows built that have been adapted for pensioner-use.
4. Loneliness: Often women live longer than their male partners.