Differences in Physical Health Across Populations and Their Implications for the Old-Age Dependency Ratios in High-, Middle-, and Low-Income Countries

Fabrice Kampfen , University of Lausanne, Switzerland
Iliana V. Kohler, University of Pennsylvania
Jürgen Maurer, Université de Lausanne

The standard approach to compare the burden of population aging across countries --the old age dependency ratio (OADR)-- does not account for important differences across populations such as differences in physical health, disability and functional capacity, which are factors for dependency and labor force participation. We investigate how OADRs observed across high, middle and low countries change if differences in physical health and functional limitations are accounted for. We propose an adjusted measure of the OADR based on an objective and comparable indicator of physical health and functioning --grip strength (GS)--. GS is predictive for future mobility decline, disability and mortality. We show that this adjustment is particularly important and results in different patterns compared to the ones based on a standard definition of OADR: accounting for differences in physical health and functioning, the OADRs for low and middle income countries increase while they greatly decline for high income countries.

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 Presented in Session 64. Cross-National Comparisons in Aging